“Everything is real. It’s not made up.”
Dominique Butler writes from his heart. The tenth grader at Cardozo Education Campus has powerful stories to tell, and he tells them with striking authenticity and emotional honesty.
“I was thirteen [when I started writing],” he says. “My grandfather passed away, so the only thing for me to get over it was just to write.”
Dominique started writing poems and stories about his life, then in the fall of 2014 got a chance to write his first play in YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program. “I didn’t know who [YPT] was, I just saw it as an opening to express myself,” he says.
Dominique seized that opening and wrote a play called Like Father, Like Son, about a young man whose father is in and out of prison. The play’s sincere depiction of filial love and teenage friendship resonated with New Play Festival readers, and Like Father, Like Son was selected to be one of fifteen Featured Plays in this year’s show (it will be performed on Night Three, April 22). When Dominique found out that professional actors would be performing his words onstage, he was blown away.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” he says. “This is the first time that something like this has happened to me. I didn't really think nobody would want to listen, for real.”
Now that he knows that people are listening, Dominique “can’t wait” to see his play brought to life. He dove into dramaturgy and shaped his piece into “an awesome play,” and will soon get the opportunity to give his creative team notes on his vision for the piece. “I’m very excited to work with them,” he says.
Outside of his creative endeavors, Dominique excels in baseball, football and basketball—he recently helped take Cardozo’s basketball team to the first round of the playoffs. He credits his mom with encouraging him to keep writing, and is already starting to make plans for college. For now, though, Dominique is content to keep focusing on school and sports, and to always keep in mind one crucial lesson he has learned from this process:
“My story matters.”