…and save Teen Theatre.
After 21 years, Planned Parenthood’s Teen Theatre is in jeopardy. National funding issues have meant lost jobs and suspended services, and now the entire education arm is threatened.
I first saw Ophelia Rising, the all-female arm of Teen Theatre, when I was in eighth grade. I was at a math and science conference for middle school girls and I was mostly extremely bored. But once those young women took the stage, I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. I don’t know how to describe how important it was to see strong female role models at that age. It was like finally surfacing after drowning.
I joined the company when I was a sophomore and I can very honestly say it changed my life. It was there that I found my voice, learned the play the guitar, found a second family, fell in love, bounced back from love, survived depression, and became a part of something much bigger than myself.
A little background: Teen Theatre was originally part of Crater Cabaret, which I believe was the first drama program at Crater High School. The company was then briefly affiliated with the health department before finding a new home with Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon. The company is made up both of single-sex groups (Ophelia Rising and All the King’s Men), who perform for audiences from elementary school on up to adults on growing up female and male, respectively, and the larger company, which performs together all over the state.
Since the groundbreaking Celebrating Sexuality show in 2000, the company has tackled amazing topics from coming out to homelessness to pregnancy. Running through every show are themes of healthy decision-making, individuality, unity, and community. Although some content is specifically tailored to fit Planned Parenthood campaigns (like Rights, Respect, and Responsibility), all material is company-developed and changes with each new evolution of the company.
I just really can’t stress enough how important this company has been to me, and how important I feel it is for them to get funding so that they can continue doing such amazing work. Aside from being a wonderful performance and leadership opportunity for the teens in the company, Teen Theatre gives honest and vital information to kids and adults. Information like “You are not alone.” Information like “You are beautiful.” Information like “You are important.”
Please consider donating. The link up there at the beginning leads you directly to the online donation page, where you can contribute anything from $5 up using your handy credit card. (I have a feeling they’d take checks or cash by snail mail, too!) Part of the beauty of Teen Theatre in the past has been that the education department budget has helped bring the company to schools at little or no cost, but that luxury is disappearing.
And if you happen to be in southern Oregon, Teen Theatre will be performing “From the Heart” next Saturday:
Date: Saturday, May 31
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Unitarian Center, Ashland (4th and C)
Appropriate for ages 13 and up
Tickets: available at the door