From Director Aaron Todd Douglas: LOCOMOTION

12:17 PM

LOCOMOTION is a deeply optimistic play filled with love, laughter and more than a little bit of pain. At first glance the thought occurs, ‘Is this piece too heavy for young people?’ But that concern quickly dissipates in the face of the myriad challenges our youth face on a daily basis as they navigate coming of age in today’s world. Violence, drugs, abuse of authority, rising rates of suicide, access to healthcare, dissolution of the family unit, poor education, death of loved ones- these are just some of the issues children are forced to come to terms with at an increasingly early age.

This play questions young and old alike in many ways. LOCOMOTION specifically asks:

How can a child, after having lost his parents, move forward into young adulthood with hope?

How does a young man help raise and remain connected to his baby sister when circumstances are actively working to keep them physically separated?

·  What artistic and social tools can young people learn to help them care for themselves and others?

· Can a person be an effective role model while facing their own life challenges?

Over the course of her brilliant career, Jacqueline Woodson has often written stories drawn from childhood and adolescence, because after all, as Woodson says, those years have a complex and profound effect on the rest of our lives.

With LOCOMOTION, Woodson presents us with rich, compelling characters we are able to identify with and invest in. Our young protagonist, Lonnie, finds that his infectious appreciation for poetry can serve as a powerful cathartic means of expressing his own grief. Woodson herself, a self-identified skinny girl who sat in the back of the classroom and got into trouble for telling lies, talking, and not turning in homework, learned through her writing how to sit up straighter and believe in herself. Thus, Lonnie learns through writing poetry he’s able to sit up straighter, believe in himself, and move forward in hope.

LOCOMOTION asks us whether the exploration of art can change lives, and the answer is a resounding, YES!

Show runs Jan. 25 – Feb. 24 at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. 

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