"People always assume that teenagers don't have anything really good to contribute to society, but... people should give us a chance to say how we feel."
Nakia Greene, a bubbly and eloquent tenth grade student from Bell Multicultural High School, sees clearly the power of creativity and collaboration. An alumna of YPT's In-School Playwriting Program, Nakia's play Despair is a finalist for the 2014 New Play Festival and will be published in the New Play Festival book later this year. The darkly comic whodunit focuses on a group of students who get locked inside their boarding school after their classmate is murdered. As they band together to solve the crime, their unique characters and complex relationships come to the fore, deeply rendered by the thoughtful playwright.
"I find the whole boarding school type of setting to be really cool," Nakia says, "because lots of bad things can happen, you know, where people are stowed away."
As it turns out, a lot of good things can happen when you put a group of talented young people together as well. Inspired by her work in the In-School Playwriting Program, Nakia joined the Young Playwrights' Workshop, an afterschool program that allows student playwrights to work together to create and perform an original play. "[In the Workshop] I got to meet new people," Nakia says, "people that went to my school but I didn't know...I think it's really cool that we get to collaborate on something."
So far, that collaboration has revealed some profound insights that Nakia is excited to share through her work. "Lots of people don't really listen to teenagers," she notes. "I feel like, since I'm working with other teenagers, that I've gotten to hear how we as a generation are like. People always assume that teenagers don't have anything really good to contribute to society, but after hearing how other teenagers view the world...I really think that we're really heavy thinkers and people should give us a chance to say how we feel."