"I wasn't holding myself back when I was writing."
Chidinma Egesia is at home in the world and at home on the page. The sixteen year-old senior at Columbia Heights Educational Campus has lived in America and Nigeria, speaks both English and Igbo fluently, had her first YPT play published in the 2013 New Play Festival book and is now co-writing, acting and directing a scene in the 2014Young Playwrights' Workshop's play, Chains of Suppression.
Oh, and did we mention she's a published poet as well?
Though Chidinma began her writing career as a poet, she discovered a love for playwriting through YPT's In-School Playwriting Program. In a play, she says, "You get to be creative. It doesn't just have to be one page, it can go on for pages." Initially hindered by the limitations of a stage production - no special effects or movie magic - Chidinma was eventually "able to overcome that" and allowed herself to let her imagination run wild on the page. "I wasn't holding myself back when I was writing," she says. "So whoever's acting that part can feel the raw emotion or whatever I put into it."
But Chidinma doesn't just put emotion into the process of writing a play - she gets inspiration and new insight out of it as well. During the Young Playwrights' Workshop, she not only collaborated with the other playwrights, but got feedback from professional theater artists such as Nathan Alan Davis during the Workshop's midway performance. "As a writer, you want that critique, because it helps build your knowledge," she says - knowledge she and the other Workshop members put into developing Chains of Suppression. Besides, "It was like having Hollywood royalty in front of you!"
Though Chidinma's time with the Young Playwrights' Workshop will end when Chains of Suppression goes up on Monday, she already has bright plans for her future. Before beginning her freshman year at Albright College, where she plans to major in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, Chidinma hopes to submit a few more plays and poems to competitions and journals. Her biggest dream, she says, is "to write a drama of my own," like the Korean dramas she so admires.
"I don't think I would be here without YPT," she says. "They really helped me... In terms of community, I think I've made a strong group of friends [through YPT] that can help me out."
We can't wait to see where Chidinma's talent takes her next, and how her words will help the next generation of playwrights find their place in the world. Because "at the end of the day, there's a lot to be said about how two things" - whether they be two different forms, two different characters or two different countries - "can be the same."