El Dorado High School student Demian Chavez participated in the El Paso Strong Reading Series in The Philanthropy Theater at the Plaza Theater in downtown El Paso.
Chavez submitted a monologue based on his own experience of the moment he heard about the Walmart shooting.
“The importance of these events can be very different for a lot of people,” said Chavez, a junior at El Dorado High School. “For the playwrights and the actors performing them it may be their best way of processing all of this and understanding what happened, meanwhile for the people in attendance it may be a way of healing.”
He was selected to read his monologue in the unique event that was created to give El Pasoans an outlet to express themselves in light of the tragic event that hit the El Paso community August 3.
The event was coordinated by visiting University of Texas at El Paso professor, Georgina Escobar, and was hosted by the Dramatist Guild and the UTEP Department of Theater and Dance.
Potential participants were asked to submit a five-minute short play with four characters or less.
Chavez shared that what inspired him to participate in the reading series was a conversation he had with a fellow student in drama who shared his post 9/11 experience and talked about how theater can help everyone in their own way to process, understand, cope, and heal after a tragedy.
El Dorado theater teachers Joe Cook and Vanessa Keyser encourage their students to break boundaries by expressing themselves through art and theater.
“We are absolutely very proud of Demian,” Keyser said. “He is one of the students who is really interested in community outreach here at El Dorado.”
Chavez said the last portion of the series, in which his submission was included, felt very dark, but necessary in order to express himself to a grieving community. Cook agreed with Chavez saying theater can help people heal, protest, get in touch with feelings, or make them feel good.
“Theater has more than one language, and there is something magical about live theater because it’s never the same,” Cook said. “It’s the only place where actors and the audience get together to create a show, which you don’t get in any other art form.”
Other ventures Chavez has undertaken includes directing a show at the high school this past spring and participating in “Children of Eden” with El Paso Community College during the summer.
The El Paso Strong Reading Series took place on September 18, 2019.