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The True Story storytelling program is now in its fourth year of writer/performers creating new works based on their own true stories. Each month a writing prompt is assigned to all participants and they are asked to write up to 8 minutes of storytelling to be read off the printed page before a live audience. On the first Sunday of each month we host a live event in which, between 6 to 10 writers read their writing for that month. The readings are open to the public in a welcoming environment with refreshments served at our 50-seat home theatre located in the Atwater Village Theatre complex. Our theatre serves the Los Angeles community and, this program in particular, includes artists and audience from Boyle Heights, Atwater Village, Glendale and the greater Los Angeles area.

To date, the core group of writers has grown from 8 to almost 30 writers and include voices of diverse backgrounds, all ages, all genders, and now includes participants from 2 partner organizations; The Q-Youth Foundation (http://www.qyouthfoundation.org/) and the veterans writing group, LiT Squad of Wellness Works Glendale (http://wellnessworksglendale.org/). The writing and performance work has included spoken word poetry, music, and exhibits of accompanying illustration and artwork. The physical artwork has been both hung in our lobby for viewing and also presented as projections on the stage.

The full focus of the program is to create longer bodies of writing work in stages from these stories that can be applied to the best literary or performance format that suits the work. The program has produced stories that have been developed into memoirs for publication, one-act plays, and a full-length solo performance piece, “WET: A DACAmented Journey”. This play received a huge response from audiences as well as support from local congresspeople Adam Schiff, Judy Chu, and Ted Lieu, and was the feature presentation this school year by Human Rights Watch Student Task Force. It is toured on a multi-city tour that has included universities and major cultural centers including, Lincoln Center Education program in NYC, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and ArtsEmerson in Boston (https://www.dacamentedjourney.com/).

The program is growing by the day. The next phase of True Story is to take the recordings of live audio of the performances for podcast in order to reach a wider audience and better serve the community of people who need to hear these stories and those who deserve to be heard.

We believe storytelling is one of the most powerful tools theatre and the humanities offers to us. A shared story no longer belongs to the teller but to those who have heard it, connected with it, and carry it forward. This is why we are currently recording the stories for podcast which will allow us to grow our reach beyond our 50-seat theatre to the community at large.