As I mentioned in my introduction blog, I find it a great honor to call myself a previous winner of Philadelphia Young Playwrights Young Voices High School Monologue Festival with my piece Warr Ave., a play about a teenage girl who reminisces about the death of her best friend due to the violence of a new neighbor. I wrote with the help of my Science Leadership Academy English teacher, Ms. Pahomov and General Program Manager, Genne Murphy of Philadelphia Young Playwrights and most of all, the inspiration of previous winners, Aimee Leong. With the help of these great women, my monologue was perfected into something I could be proud to say would reach the world. Recently I was given the opportunity to inspire some of the students at my school to make their own monologues.
The Young Voices High School Monologue Festival is an annual assignment for 10th graders of Science Leadership Academy in Ms. Pahomov’s English class. Luckily for our school, there is always at least one previous winner that attends our school who gets to give the current 10th graders an inspirational talk to help them with the process. When it was my year to to participate in the annual assignment, my peer-speaker was Aimee Leong, the writer of winning monologue Torn Between. Aimee spoke to us about how her process was more procrastination than anything and how her inspiration for the monologue came to her while taking the trolley to school. Her words really must have affected me because my process was exactly the same. I actually came up with the idea for my monologue while sitting outside talking to my best friend about an actual event that happened on our block.
Last week, Ms. Pahomov asked me to be the inspirational peer-speaker for the current 10th graders! At first I felt like I was the last person to give advice on how to go through the process of writing a well-thought out monologue seeing as how i procrastinated the entire time for mine but then i remembered Aimee Leong. I remembered how we both procrastinated our paper and still managed to actually be a WINNER! It was then that I compared our similar situation and realized the method to our madness: it was our real life everyday stories. When I went to talk to the 10th graders of Ms. Pahomov’s English class, I told them that the most important part that will make writing a monologue so much easier is to make your voice heard. As cliche as it may sound, it was the truth because what’s easier than just saying what you feel? I told them to think of every time they were in a situation where they could not say what they were thinking and use it as the main plot for their monologue. When the world sees their production, that person who would not let you speak your mind can finally hear you out. I hope that my words of inspiration helped them as much as Aimee’s helped me and just maybe, one of them will be giving the same speech next year to another set of 10th graders after they’ve become winners themselves.
– Nia Berry