LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. — Everybody has a story.

Paige Taylor is writing hers at her home in Fountain Valley, where she's been able to successfully get her pen to paper thanks to the Laguna Playhouse.

What You Need To Know

  • The Laguna Playhouse's "Our Voices" program continues to educate young artists during the pandemic

  • The program will have more sessions beginning in January

  • Sharing these stories has helped young artists figure out what the next step in their careers might be

“I feel like I was sitting in a car and I had the seatbelt buckled, and I had like a full tank of gas, and I had, like, a highway out in front of me and, like, lots of different maps I could use," said Taylor. "And I just didn’t know how to start the car."

As an aspiring playwright, she has now found the keys to the ignition through a program called “Our Stories” from the Playhouse, where young artists are encouraged to create dramatic works inspired by their own life experiences, taking their work from an idea to a real-life production.

For her project in this program, Taylor uses her own life story about her identity as a Chinese American, a personal yet relatable tale.

Through the program, she’s gained some confidence and is writing a play about herself—as a multi-racial, Chinese American—which, as she's learned in the program, is a story many people can relate to.

“It was really validating to feel like, 'Hey, what you have to say—people want to hear it,'" said Taylor.

But the program isn’t just for writers. It includes artists of all kinds who are matched with professionally trained artists who are also teachers.

Dancer and San Clemente resident Delaney Marchant just finished her degree in theatre from Cal Berkeley. Unfortunately, her final year was entirely virtual. On the flip side, the pandemic has left her with lots of inspiration for creating her art. She and her group created a film composite about how we see ourselves past, present, and future.

“It really again got at this heart that storytelling is about telling stories about real people and real experiences, and that’s what moves individuals,” Marchant said.

In this divided culture, program creator Dylan Russell explained that sharing these stories has not only helped young artists figure out what the next step might be in their careers, but also symbolizes how storytelling programs like these can help us embrace differences and help youth who might be struggling in the pandemic with isolation or other challenges.

"Even in stories that come from somebody who is most different than you, you see that link of humanity, you feel that palpable emotion," said Russell. "That’s what it’s all about, in terms of why we do this."

Through this program, young artists like Taylor and Marchant are learning to tell their stories from their hearts in hopes of resonating with audiences in the future.

"Going forward, this has made me a lot more confident in my voice as an artist," said Taylor. "And so, I’m going to have so much more strength about what stories I want to tell. Not what stories I deem are worth telling, but what stories I want to tell."

For more information on the program, visit the Laguna Playhouse website.