In creating CARTOGRAPHY, director Kaneza Schaal and writer Christopher Meyer ask, “What part do we play in the lives of young refugees who set out into the unsure waters of their futures?” This question stuck with a group of young New Yorkers and, inspired by this powerful new work, they formed the New 42 Teen Council to bring theater to teens and teens to theater.
We sat down with a founding member and high school junior Oliver Peck to hear his thoughts on creating the New 42 Teen Council. To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What first inspired you to get involved with the New 42 Teen Council?
Thanks to my mom’s involvement in the New 42, I’ve engaged with New Victory my whole life! I’m thrilled to combine my love for the theater with the opportunity to develop leadership and business skills.
How did the council create the idea for “A Night Out at CARTOGRAPHY?”
We wanted to find a way to entice teens to come to our event, so the first step was brainstorming ideas to encourage our peers to come and support the cause. First, we were lucky enough to know that our friends would show up to support our efforts. Second, the refugee crisis is a topic that many young people are passionate about. It’s one of the most pressing issues in the world today, so we were confident our fellow young New Yorkers would come out to learn more.
In a series of meetings, we discussed the structure of the night and concluded that having a pre-show event with Kaneza Schaal and Christopher Meyers—the creators of CARTOGRAPHY—would be an excellent way to set the stage for the show. It was also important for us to have a post-show moment when audience members could ask questions about Kaneza and Christopher’s process and creative decisions.
Why is theater an effective way to explore ideas, themes and current issues?
Ever since my mom brought me to the New Victory when I was a kid, I’ve thought of the theater as a dynamic and creative venue to explore new ideas. The whole experience is exciting—seeing people perform live is unlike anything else. You can feel the energy between performer and audience member, which you don’t get from reading books or watching movies.
What do you feel is your goal with the New 42 Teen Council?
One of the biggest goals for the Teen Council is to bring teens back to the theater. Personally, I hope to learn about fundraising, leadership skills and life at a non-profit. Being part of something that serves both the New Victory and the greater New York community is deeply rewarding for those of us on the New 42 Teen Council. We’re excited to see what the future holds!
Special thanks to the rest of the New 42 Teen Council: Ally August, Tsion Carnielli, Mia Conte, Sofia Egol, Sophia Fodor, Oscar Grubelic, Brett Hammerman, Rowan Henchy, Asher Hurowitz, Lily Kaplan, Honor Knapp, Liam Lindsay, Brielee Lu, Eden Plepler, Ben Rothman, Maxwell Shopkorn, Leo Small, Gabie Waller-Whelan.