Oregon Children’s Theater (OCT), in partnership with MediaRites Production, announced The -Ism Youth Files, a youth project focused on writing and interviewing youth ages 12-21 about mental health. These interviews were then used to create a collection of monologues, personal essays, poetry, and short graphic novels. MediaRites also produces four 30-minute podcasts of youth stories, interviews and performances.

“I’ve heard friends talking about the devastating effects of the pandemic on their children,” explained Dmae Lo Roberts, executive producer of MediaRites. “We had already produced a book of writings by young people about their experiences with mental health, so the council and I thought it was time to create an e-book and podcast on this topic through a national submission process. .”

Although the majority of BIPOC and youth with disabilities are from Portland, 20 writers were selected not only from the Northwest but also from Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut and a selection from Kolkata, India. Each writer received an honorarium payment. “The -Ism Youth Files turned into a mentorship project,” Roberts said. “We plan to stay in touch with the writers through next year and will seek further opportunities for their creativity. I’m so proud of our production team and grateful for Oregon Children’s Theater’s collaboration with us. Our hope is to create more awareness of youth mental health and to break the taboo of silence that still exists.

Dmae Lo Roberts is a two-time Peabody Award-winning documentary producer, filmmaker and writer and the executive producer of MediaRites. Samson Syharath, a Portland theater artist, playwright is the associate producer, Amanda Vander Hyde is the production manager. Clark Salisbury, podcast engineer, and Sandra de Helen, co-editor, are also working on the project. Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara of Luminosa Psychological Services is the project’s mental health consultant.

In support of the project, Nick Condon, Oregon Children’s Theater Education Programs Coordinator, is collaborating on a youth mental health toolkit, which will be distributed to families, schools and organizations. . OCT Education Director Blake Wales is co-producing a free live event at the Curious Comedy Theater in Portland on August 27, 2022. This production will include live readings and pre-recorded videos from our young artists around the world, followed by from a BIPOC Panel of mental health experts in Portland to learn about resources and actions you can take for youth mental health. Masks will be mandatory during the event; a live stream of the event will also be available. Those interested in attending the event can find out more and register for the event online.

The -Ism Youth Files is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Community Foundation, Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Collins Foundation, Oregon Humanities, and WESTAF. Learn more about MediaRites at mediarites.org.

About Oregon Children’s Theater

Founded in 1988, Oregon Children’s Theater (OCT) has served more than two million children, teachers and families. Its mission is to create exceptional theatrical experiences that transform lives. The OCT is Oregon’s largest nonprofit professional theater for young audiences and a resident company of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. Performances take place on weekdays for school audiences and weekends for family audiences. OCT serves more than 120,000 children of all ages each year. OCT offers many school services, including study guides, professional development opportunities for teachers, in-school workshops, and an extensive outreach program. In partnership with Kaiser Permanente, the educational theater program offers free touring productions that promote healthy living. OCT’s Acting Academy offers year-round acting classes for kids ages 3-18 and Young Professionals Company, a mentorship program for teens.

Funding for the Oregon Children’s Theater 2022-2023 season is provided in part by the Shubert Foundation, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation, and the Arts Commission of the ‘Oregon.