Laguna Playhouse awarded grant for program harnessing young voices

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Laguna Playhouse recently received support from Bank of America for its Our Stories program, which supports Transitional Age Youth (TAY), ranging from in age from 16 to 25.

Our Stories encourages participants to create original dramatic works using their own life experiences. The program focuses on TAY and at-risk young adults who experience isolation and behavioral health challenges, encouraging them to creatively explore and share their life experiences through storytelling, playwriting and a shared performance opportunity.

“The Our Stories program is vital in helping us to strengthen the health and well-being of individuals at-risk, strengthen community connection, and envision a better future for all through theatre and storytelling techniques,” said Dylan Russell, Laguna Playhouse Director of Education and Outreach. “Bank of America’s support of Our Stories is fundamental in reaching underserved communities. We are immensely grateful for their support of this very important program.”

With supporters like Bank of America, Laguna Playhouse was able to quickly transition the Our Stories program from in-person to a virtual platform.

“While the arts are important cultural and economic drivers, we have witnessed how the arts have also helped people connect and relieve stress and anxiety during the pandemic,” Allen Staff, Orange County market president for Bank of America, said in a prepared statement.                                                                        

Our Stories participants are sourced through community agency partnerships. They join eight to 10 workshop sessions led by the Playhouse’s professionally-trained teaching artists. They are given prompts and discussion topics to explore how their life experiences have shaped them into who they are. The creative cohort then works together to tell each of their stories and will ultimately produce a live or video performance to share with the community.

A young adult from the first Our Stories cohort said, “I looked forward to each week of the program and felt I was in a safe place to express myself completely.”

At the completion of the workshop sessions, the participants are offered access to mental and behavioral health professionals.

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