The Wolf Street Journal

Welcome to the re-launching of our online blog, The Wolf Street Journal, a place where students and staff come together to share their thoughts on and experiences at Wolf Performing Arts Center. My hope for this blog is to see inside the creative minds of our community and allow them to tell you their own stories, their own way. 

Through anecdotes, memories, social media takeovers, and other brilliant ways of letting you in, you'll be able to get the inside scoop on the myriad of programs we do here, how they benefit these young minds, and more.

We hope you'll keep coming back and refresh the page. 

Enjoy!

Janine Merolla
Education Director 

November 18, 2019

Author: Janine Merolla

 “Being a teenager, man.” 

    “Yeah.”

    That’s how a lot of conversations I witness at Wolf PAC start. First one kid, then two, then seven are populating my desk as I’m trying to finish an email and transition smoothly to our rehearsals in the Black Box. But I hear the sigh of frustration that punches through their words and I stop and listen. I imagine it’s the first time anyone did that that day. Stop and listen. 

    I’ve often asked the kids who come to Wolf PAC what it is that makes them feel so comfortable here. Why is it that they call this place their second home? Most of them tell me it’s hard to describe; they can say a lot of wonderful, positive things about it but they can’t pinpoint the why of what makes it so special to them. They are some of the most brilliant people I know, so if they can’t put it into words, I don’t know how the heck I can. 

I was clueless as a teenager. Don’t get me wrong: I thought I should be in my own television show because of my brilliant, wry observations about the world but now that I’ve zoomed out just a tick, I realize that it wasn’t the world I was commenting on; it was my world. My bubble.  Teenagers today? They have no choice but to be faced with the real world. The whole world. The kids I know take that on as a huge responsibility. They do not retreat from the parts of life that are messy and hard, but that doesn’t make those parts less messy or hard. 

    Do you remember being a teenager? I do. I remember that all it took was a certain kid with unspeakable, unexplained power to make one move and the rest of the class wouldn’t speak to me for days or weeks. One time a girl told me TO my face that the only reason I was on this planet was because my parents needed a babysitter for my better sister. Bullies are everywhere and always have been. But they’ve shifted from punching kids at recess when my parents were teenagers to shifty side-eye and rumors when I was growing up and now they show up in a snapchat or a twitter thread. But the end result is still ugly, still pointlessly evil. Bullies still exist, and no one is more exciting to a bully than an emotional, vulnerable, truthful person who isn’t afraid to be themselves. Uh-oh. Welcome to the world of theatre kids. 

These teenagers that I have the pleasure of seeing twice a week at my rehearsals are tired. They are tired from schoolwork and tests and thinking about the future and remembering to eat dinner and making sure their parents know where they are and THEN they are frustrated because they weren’t paid attention to or someone made them feel stupid or no one sat with them at lunch or ever listens when they talk or they got broken up with and they bring their tired, frustrated selves to Wolf PAC and open up their scripts and look up at me, eyes wide and ready, because here, they don’t hear words of discouragement or unease. They are listened to and heard and valued and raised up. They are told they are important and that they matter. We tell them because it’s true. We see their vulnerability and their emotions and their truthful selves and we mirror it with our own pain and joy. We make a circle (a theatre person’s favorite shape) to look into each other’s eyes and acknowledge that yeah, today was probably a rough one, but how lucky are we to be here with each other and be tired together? Then, they get up and pretend to be someone else and yet it’s the closest they feel to themselves. 

But Wolf PAC believes in them. We believe in the power they have. The unspeakable, unexplained power that drives those bullies also drives these heroes, these genuine kids who move through the world with kindness and love. We need them now more than ever. When they are at Wolf PAC, they feel like leaders without having to change anything about themselves. They move through space with confidence and strength and it is a powerful thing to watch. They come here as tired, exasperated teens and leave as champions of one another. Such is the power and connection of working in theatre. 

So, yeah, it’s hard to describe what Wolf PAC does for a kid. But I’ve seen it for myself and that’s why I’m still here with them. Because if they’re going to save the world, I am more than willing to show them how to wield their power for good.