GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of talented teenagers will take the stage at the Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center on Saturday, June 17, at 1 p.m. to address pressing societal issues through a thought-provoking theater production titled “A Day in Our Lives.”

This performance, the culmination of Valley Playwright Mentoring’s (VPM) 2022-2023 season, aims to shed light on topics such as school shootings, bullying, global warming, and the comedy of everyday life.

VPM, a Piti Theatre program designed to empower teenagers, allows participants to develop performances and podcasts based on personal experiences. The program’s ultimate goal is to help these young individuals and their community transform challenging experiences into art and resilience. Under the guidance of Piti Theatre Artistic Director Jonathan Mirin, Teaching Artist Laura Josephs, and the ensemble, the teens have been rehearsing since November to bring their stories to life on stage.

The heart of the production revolves around a typical 24-hour period in March 2023, presenting scenes that provide insights into the participants’ lives at home and school. From family conflicts to the urgent need to address global warming through initiatives like The Willow Project, the play offers a poignant portrayal of the struggles faced by today’s youth. One of the scenes emerges from the aftermath of a fake school shooting threat that resulted in a lockdown at their high school, highlighting the prevalent issue of gun violence in American schools.

Courtesy of Piti Theatre Company

After the performance, there will be a Q&A session and a reception, allowing the audience to engage with the young performers and delve deeper into the themes explored. Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to witness a reading of new scenes from the online VPM group, which will later be transformed into podcasts complete with sound design.

Admission to “A Day in Our Lives” is free, but reservations are recommended. Due to the mature themes present in the performance, it is geared toward audiences aged 13 and above. The event promises to be an eye-opening experience that encourages dialogue and reflection.

VPM is also accepting registrations for new participants for the upcoming October 2023 season in Greenfield, Holyoke, and Shelburne Falls. The program provides stipends to actor-playwrights who complete the six-month mentorship, made possible through the generous support of various organizations including the Mass Cultural Council’s YouthReach program, Community Foundation of Western MA, the Markham-Nathan Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, and Swiss Harmony. The inspiration for VPM stems from Barrington Stage Company’s Playwright Mentoring Project.

Piti Theatre Company, the organization behind VPM, was founded in 2004 by Jonathan Mirin and Godeliève Richard. With a mission to cultivate joy, sustainability, and justice, Piti Theatre has launched its first capital campaign for the purchase and renovation of a barn and 17 acres in Charlemont, aiming to create a center for arts and ecology.

  • A VPM artist working on their podcast (Courtesy of Piti Theatre Company)
  • Rylee Hager and Ezekiel Mirin(Courtesy of Piti Theatre Company)

Don’t miss this powerful and timely theater production that sheds light on important issues faced by today’s youth. Join the local teens as they harness the transformative power of art to address school shootings, bullying, global warming, and more, all through “A Day in Our Lives” on June 17 at the Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center.