Silence is Violence and YPT helped me find my voice

June 9, 2023

By YPT Communications Manager Cody Bahn

As someone who has had very little interaction with the theater world until recently, I never imagined that something I wrote would be included in a performance.

Silence is Violence: New Normal was a “small step/giant leap” moment for me. I branched out and tried a lot of new things with this production. I started off testing submission forms and marketing strategies, and the next thing I knew, I was including my name in the “Playwrights” section of the program.

Silence is Violence: New Normal is a collection of work from YPT students, playwrights, and other artists from all over the United States describing individual experiences of their lives during the pandemic in 2023 and what life may be like in 2026. The first open call for pieces was open to all ages and a large portion of the YPT staff submitted pieces to be included.

It isn’t always easy for me to express my feelings in writing. Even now, it has taken me a long time to write this post, but using the Silence is Violence prompts prepared by YPT Education Director Jared Shamberger had me filling out the blanks and enjoying my time. Checking off questions about my life after the start of the pandemic and how I appreciate certain things a little more now. I wasn’t expecting what I wrote to be included, hadn’t even thought about it after I finished my piece.

On another night, I was waiting at a restaurant for my partner to leave a concert (I skipped out early) and the thought of how different my life became after the start of the pandemic was on my mind. As I was taking notes for my therapist and organizing those scattered thoughts into something cohesive, I ended up realizing how well what I wrote fit into what YPT was looking for in submissions for Silence is Violence. So, I basically submitted what I had written with a few tweaks to make it flow better. Not exactly something I would normally do, or even think to do on a standard day.

I don’t remember which version of the script I was reading when I realized both pieces I wrote were there. I do remember a flood of several different feelings all rushing in at once. Surprise, joy, excitement, apprehension, and anxiety all passed through in a split second.

A few times I thought about rescinding my submissions. Did I really want everyone to have that much of a peek into my life and thoughts? What would everyone think? My feelings about my current life and my gender were all laid out there on paper for everyone to see. Thoughts like that juggled around in my head for weeks until I got the chance to watch the cast rehearse one night.

The director and cast took my pieces of rambling thoughts guided by prompts and turned them into something I was happy other people would get to see. That feeling was strengthened after they ran through my first piece and Director Sandi Holloway turned to me to ask if they captured it correctly. A simple question that let me know they were taking extra steps to care for everyone’s pieces, not just mine.

The rest of the time between then and the performance is just a blur. I had pretty much let go of my feelings around it and moved on to other things. Even on performance day I was relaxed and had a great time prepping and taking photos. My pieces were done and nobody was pointing and laughing at me.

At the end of the day, It was an amazing experience. Anxiety aside, I loved watching the process of how something I wrote was molded and brought to life on a stage, a feeling I imagine a lot of young people go through during YPT workshops and staged readings. And I can’t wait to get the chance to do it again … probably with more YPT prompts to help.