Promising Playwright, September 2018
"While working with YPT...I was made to feel like someone who deserved to have this voice and someone who had something to say."
For young playwright Daniel Goldman, the journey to crafting his play began when he was a freshman at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, where YPT Teaching Artist Kathleen Akerley led YPT's In-School Playwriting Program in his drama class last year. In January 2018 Daniel’s play, Tunnel Vision, was nominated for YPT's 2018 New Play Festival, and in June 2018, was chosen to be premiered at a staged reading in the 17th Annual Page-to-Stage New Play Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. While he has written poetry and stories before, this was Daniel's first time writing a play.
"I was a bit unsure about it at first," says Daniel. "But the person working with me during the workshop, Kathleen, was very supportive. She helped us build upon our own expectations for the play helped us find the playwright that we already had within ourselves."
Daniel's play, Tunnel Vision, tackles the very serious and often unaddressed issue of domestic sex trafficking through the story of an LGBTQ+ youth. The play centers on Sebastian, who, after being shunned by his family, is coerced into a life of sex trafficking and abuse. Through this powerful story, Daniel's aim was to spread awareness of sex trafficking happening right here in the United States. "I did research on how [sex trafficking] was happing in America. It at first shocked me because my narrative of America, having lived [abroad] in developing countries, was that it was this perfect place. When I finally came to the US, I learned that the same [sexual abuses] happened here as in other parts of the world. It happens here; it happens everywhere."
Daniel says that the process of developing his play, from working with Kathleen to working directly with YPT Artistic Director Farah Lawal Harris, was empowering. "I was afraid, going in, that I would be viewed as a child stepping into the shoes of someone far bigger than myself," explains Daniel. "While working with YPT, I wasn't made to feel like that at all. I was made to feel like someone who deserved to have this voice and someone who had something to say."
Daniel intends to continue working on Tunnel Vision. He received encouraging and helpful feedback from the actors and audience members at the Page-to-Stage Festival to add to his own interest in expanding specific characters and storylines. Beyond playwriting, Daniel wants to pursue arts activism as a career when he gets older. "I want to do anything where I'm using my voice for something important," says Daniel. "I would love to do art; I would love to be able to do activism through art on a larger scale and see where things take me."
His advice for young writers: "Sit down. Start writing, no matter how absolutely crazy it sounds. You can tone it down later. Just take all your ideas, put them down on paper and work with them."
We are incredibly proud of Daniel and all his hard work and dedication. We'll be following Dan as he continues to develop Tunnel Vision and as he makes the world a better place through his art!