The Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble (a collaboration between Creative Action and SAFE’S Expect Respect) explores a cultural change in connection with their newest show “Our Alien Nation“.
Changing Lives is an ensemble of teen artist-activists that create and tour original, youth-led performances focused on violence prevention, healthy relationships, and social justice. “Our Alien Nation” continues the mission by demonstrating feelings of distance or isolation in relationships as we enter a new phase of the pandemic.
We were lucky to interview a current member of Changing Lives about her experiences working on the show.
Meet Danielle Todd-Harris, playwrite on “Our Alien Nation”
CA: Hi Danielle! Please tell us about yourself.
D: My name is Danielle Todd-Harris and I use she/her pronouns! This is my first year in Changing Lives – I started in September 2021.
CA: Without giving too much away, can you elaborate on the themes in “Our Alien Nation”?
D: The three main themes are: it’s okay to outgrow friendships, communication is key, and everyone has something different about them so just embrace it!
CA: Are there themes and/or challenges represented in the show that you find unique to your generation? What about any that are universal?
D: I think that since social media has become more present because of Gen Z, the theme of people hiding who they are on social media is pretty universal.
CA: It sounds like there’s something for everyone to relate to here. Do you believe the pandemic has changed the meaning of personal boundaries and individual growth for young people?
D: I think it has! Some of us might just be as comfortable with certain things as we were when the pandemic first started!
CA: What can you tell us about your role in developing “Our Alien Nation”?
D: I helped create the main characters in the story. I also helped write a scene where two characters connect and help each other find solutions to their toxic relationships. I also helped write a scene where two characters unpack the toxicity in their relationship and they become a better couple from it.
CA: What do you want younger audiences to think about when watching the show? What about older audiences?
D: I want younger audiences to see what a positive friend breakup looks like since bridging over from one school grade system to another can be difficult when it comes to maintaining friendships. For older audiences, I want them to see why communication is important to romantic relationships and the outcomes of lack of communication!
CA: What do you enjoy most about connecting to an audience?
D: My favorite part of connecting with the audience is taking personal experiences such as being ghosted or being in a toxic relationship and using those aspects in the script to show people that they are not alone.
CA: Where do you see the role of theatre in creating cultural change?
D: I think that the diverse representation we have of relationships in plays and musicals can change how we see things.