ARCHIVE - State of the Field: Elena Velasco (8-5-15)


Full Name: 

Elena Velasco

Elena Velasco

Professional Affiliations

AEA/SAG/AFTRA; Work highlighted here is with Imagination Stage

How do you define your role in the field of Theatre for Youth?

I am a theater artist who challenges performance language, and a teaching artist.

Number of Years in the Field


What is inspiring about the field of Theatre for Youth at this moment in time?

I find that todays Theatre for Youth does not shy away from the more difficult situations that have risen in this changing world. Works such as Milagro Theatres Cuéntame Coyote and Lisa Loomers Bocón embrace a culturally specific genre while addressing critical issues such as immigration and reunification.  It is not only an acknowledgement of where we are in history, but the fact that our children possess great depth and have intelligent responses to the many challenges we face today.

óyeme What is the best Theatre for Youth experience youve had in the past 12 months?

One of the most difficult and humbling moments was during a session of óyeme, a program I co-created along with Miriam Gonzales, an eloquent playwright, and Joanne Seeling, a gifted artist. As we guided students through an exercise on environment, one young lady rose and exited the room.  Her environment her home was so painful to revisit.  One by one other participants left the room to join her.  It was not in refusal of the work; it was the journey through the work.  As they returned to the room, one participant noted Es muy difícil de recordar.  Nos duele.  Pero también nos hace mas fuertes. (Its hard to think about.  It hurts us.  But it also makes us stronger.).  I look up to those young ladies who have seen more than I. Theater for them is truly a risk, but they faced it each day we worked together.

Where is field of Theatre for Youth going next?

My hope is that Theatre for Youth will continue to push performance language.  When we transcend the spoken word we touch on visceral understanding.  I believe this helps us reach learners of all abilities, children of all ages, and allows youth to challenge adults to think past the limits of realism.

What are three words that describe of embody the field of Theatre for Youth?

Divergent, Innovative, y Fuerza

What does our field need to do better or differently?

We need to bring the urgency for theater onto the national stage. Theater is an essential part of our growth, not enrichment.  We must advocate for theater education, theater for youth, and theater between the generations.  It is what informs, invites, and unites.

Why do you work in the field of Theatre for Youth?

I believe we have reached a critical period in humanity.  Education has become a commodity and art has been exchanged for sensationalism. Our youth are the revolution for a much needed focus on theater, which I regard as the highest form of free speech.  Through theater children learn empathy, embrace their unique voice, and extend comprehension past the limits of words.

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