"You get to experience someone else’s life, and you get to see someone else’s perspective."
Bernadet Assefa doesn’t do anything halfway. She began playwriting in the In-School Playwriting Program this fall, and soon joined YPT’s after-school Young Playwrights’ Workshop as well. As a member of theWorkshop, she co-wrote a play with a small ensemble of students who performed their own work in the 2013 Source Festival.
Bernadet first heard about the Workshop through the In-School Playwriting Program at Bell Multicultural High School, so she decided to take her playwriting experience to the next level. She was interested in acting and decided to audition. "[I’m] trying to see if this is where I’m meant to be," she says of the acting opportunities provided by theWorkshop.
When asked about her experience in the Workshop, Bernadet smiles and sits forward. "You can express your ideas freely - no judgment - and that’s one of the most important things. The second thing is that you get to think outside of the box. You get to experience someone else’s life, and you get to see someone else’s perspective."
In their original play, the Young Playwrights’ Workshop asks the question, "Do people change?" Set on New Year’s Eve, this play delves into the lives of diverse characters, from a spoiled socialite to a hardworking waiter. Her character, Lola, is 19 years old and doesn’t know her birth parents. Lola spends the play searching for closure. Bernadet explains that she wants the audience to know that people aren’t defined by their pasts, and even people who have challenges to overcome can succeed in the end. "It’s basically about change. In the end, she changes."
Bernadet knows about change. She moved to Washington, DC from Ethiopia when she was ten years old. While she had studied English in school, Amharic was her first language. Now, she is a leader in her school, where she serves as the 11th Grade Vice President at Bell and participates in the school choir.
Bernadet is also looking forward to an early college program at Cornell University. She was awarded a scholarship for the program and will live on the campus while studying hotel management and business this summer. She plans to apply to Cornell next year, and hopes to combine her interests in business and the arts.
The Workshop play was featured in the Source Festival this past Monday, June 17. Bernadet and her fellow artists experienced opening night jitters and thunderous applause for the first time. "I love this," she said as she ran lines backstage before the performance. "I love the energy backstage."
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