‘Unheard Voices’ stages stories of young men who’ve written their way through trauma | St. Louis Public Radio

‘Unheard Voices’ stages stories of young men who’ve written their way through trauma

Apr 27, 2018

Actors will tell the real-life stories of young men aging out of a children’s home in a staged reading on Saturday in Ferguson.

The free event at the Ferguson Youth Initiative, 106 Church St., draws on writing by young men who participated in a program of YourWords STL. The organization helps St. Louis youth express themselves, and work through trauma using the written word.

The presentation, “Unheard Voices: You Don’t Know My Story,” is comprised of poetry, lyrics and narratives by residents of the Marygrove Children’s Home in Florissant.  It highlights the human need to be heard, according to YourWords’ cofounder Anna Guzon, a former physician.

“Being ignored ignites that flight or fight in any human being,” Guzon said. “So there is definitely a universal message in this performance.”

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’

“Unheard Voices” is produced by a local filmmaker Daniel Blake Smith in collaboration with Prime Theater company. Its actors worked closely with Marygrove residents.

A second, more theatrical presentation with music and video will be staged May 12 at Gaslight Theater in the Central West End. Admission to that show is $25.

The shows feature stories illustrating how trauma can take root inside a person as a ball of anger.

Anna Guzon and Steve Handoyo founded and expanded YourWords STL in response to events including the Sandy Hook child massacre and the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The cofounders first met in high school when she went to Visitation Academy and he went to Priory.
Credit YourWords STL

“It is difficult material to hear,” Guzon said. “It is also extremely uplifting.”

The presentations are the culmination of many months of writing. Most of the Marygrove youth, ages 16-21, are reluctant at first. When they begin to write, it’s often about difficulties experienced during years of foster care.

“And when they talk about being at Marygrove, that's when they when things start getting better in their lives,” Guzon said. “They have all seen the light at the end of the tunnel. They have done a lot of hard work.”

If you go:

‘Unheard Voices: You Don’t Know My Story’

Staged Reading

When: 4 p.m., Saturday, April 28

Where: Ferguson Youth Initiative, 106 Church St. in Ferguson

Admission: Free

Theatrical Presentation

When: 8 p.m., Saturday, May 12

Where: Gaslight Theater, 358 N. Boyle Ave. in St. Louis

Admission: $25, available through Eventbrite

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL