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Unheard Voices of Unitarian Universalism: Young Adults

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General Assembly 2003 Event 3090

BLUUBIRD Theater Company
Playright: Rev. Amanda Aikman

This made-for-UU [Unitarian Universalist] drama came directly from the writings of youth in the Pacific Northwest District (PND). It was put together by the Rev. Amanda Aikman and has been performed in many churches in the PND.

A large and enthusiastic audience very much enjoyed the four actors who performed the readings, which represented many different viewpoints of young adults experience with Unitarian Universalism.

The pay made a number of points. Young adults are looking for the intense community that they had as youth group, but they don't always get it. Coffee hour is very awkward, especially if there are few young adults around. A critical mass of young adults is important: it's good to feel welcomed but not to be mobbed when you're the only young adult walking through the door. Young adults should be active not just on Sunday morning but all week. Services are borrrrring. Young adults need multimedia, more visuals, not just sitting in a pew listening to a lecture. More interactivity and more circles are what make it powerful, feeling the energy of everyone in the room. Most importantly, we need to have funding to support the staff for young adults.

Reported by Allan Stern.

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About the Play

"Unheard Voices of Unitarian Universalism: Young Adults" is a documentary theater piece developed by BLUUBIRD Theater Company, a new UU drama ministry based in the Seattle, Washington area.

One of BLUUBIRD's missions is to bring marginalized groups within the UU church into the awareness of the majority, to stimulate creative dialoguing and change. One such group is 18- to-35-year-olds, known in the UU world as "young adults." Convinced that a theater piece based on the actual words of young adults would make a powerful impact and might motivate older UU's to help their churches become more welcoming to young adults, BLUUBIRD adopted this as their premier project.

Creative Director Rev. Amanda Aikman interviewed eight UU young adults from the Pacific Northwest District in summer and fall of 2002. She used a standardized questionnaire, with open-ended questions such as "Tell me about your best experience as a UU" and "What do you find boring about UUism?" Aikman transcribed the tapes of these interviews and edited them into a play script. Except for minor word changes, such as removing the names of individual ministers and churches, the play is comprised entirely of excerpts from these verbatim transcripts.

BLUUBIRD organized a traveling company, directed by Holly Arsenault. The decision was made to use just four actors, each playing two parts, in order to clarify the fact that these are actors and not the original Interviewees.

This cast traveled to 13 churches around the Puget Sound area in spring 2003, performing the play as part of Sunday morning worship. Aikman solicited evaluations at every performance, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, both to theater as a medium for worship and to the messages inherent in the play. Many of the churches where the play was performed have contacted our District office asking for more information on how to serve Young Adults.

BLUUBIRD wishes to thank the UUA's [Unitarian Universalist Association's] Young Adult/Campus Ministry Department for a $500 grant that helped with start-up costs. The rest of the production was funded by guest speaker honoraria form the individual churches. A video was made of the production, and is available for sale. BLUUBIRD welcomes feedback and inquiries. Our next project, funded in part by a grant from the Fund for Unitarian Universalism, will be a documentary play about UU Christians. Please contact us at: bluubirdtheater @ hotmail.com.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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