Teens sharing podcasts in Zoom premiere

  • Jyn Rankin works on her podcast as part of the Valley Playwright Mentoring program. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 8/4/2022 4:06:58 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — A new podcast series from the Valley Playwright Mentoring program will share teens’ stories ranging from the experience of having a sibling with disabilities to admitting one’s sexuality to a parent.

The podcasts will premiere over Zoom Friday at 7 p.m.

“I’m excited to share our work, and hopefully others will be able to relate to it,” said Emery King, a rising senior at Mohawk Trail Regional School who contributed a podcast.

This marks the third year of a six-month-long program where teens convene over Zoom after school to workshop, write and produce their own podcasts.

“Sometimes the themes repeat, but the stories are all different ways of working through real problems they have,” said Jonathan Mirin, co-founder of Piti Theatre Co., which offers the Valley Playwright Mentoring program.

Participants have used the skills they learned with Valley Playwright Mentoring in other aspects of their community. For example, some participants in the program organized a Mohawk Trail Regional School walkout protesting anti-LGBTQ legislation in early March.

“We are just making art here,” Mirin said, “but they can take skills and apply them to their schools, communities and eventually worldwide.”

King explained the program has allowed him to make new friends from outside his school. He has grown close with these friends throughout the six-month program.

Each meeting starts with a check-in from each participant. They list their rose, thorn and bud (highlight, low point and something they are excited for) from the week. The class then goes into physical and vocal warm-ups. Finally, they play theater games. After three months of improvisation, the teen participants begin writing their podcasts.

“It’s been fun having fantastic internet,” King said. The meetings are held completely over Zoom, and King pointed to the new broadband service that has allowed him to participate. “We used to have ethernet. This has changed life in the woods.”

“There is a notion that a story is only worthwhile if there is foreign travel and earth-shattering drama,” Mirin said. “The move in autobiographical storytelling shows there is quite a bit of drama in stories happening all around us.”

The students collaborated on each podcast, but King focused on his own experience with anxiety returning to school after months of virtual education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the other podcasts were also inspired by stories from the students’ own lives.

The podcasts will be available at ptco.org/training/vpm, but the premiere will include a live introduction of each podcast from the creators. Listeners can register for the premiere using the same link.

Valley Playwright Mentoring is also accepting registrations from new participants for the program’s next round, which starts in November.

Contact Bella Levavi
at blevavi@recorder.com
or 413-930-4579.


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