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The [Intern]al Perspective: We Are The Diverse Culture Makers

As part of our second Learning Community Event, the Downtown Interns got to tour the Arts District on July 30, 2015.

As part of our second Learning Community Event, the Downtown Interns got to tour the Arts District on July 30, 2015.

Prior to my hire with Cornerstone, I wanted to be sure that I sought an internship that I knew would align with with the way I viewed theatre and how it can used as a powerful tool to teach and impact communities. As sensitive as social issues tend to be as a topic of conversation, I believe that using creative ways to illustrate those issues can initiate positive discussion and action to improve such things such as ageism, classism, racism, etc. This is something that is part of my passion and right before I began interning with Cornerstone, I miraculously wrote my entire Senior Thesis on the subject in just five weeks thanks to a lot of research and determination.

This summer is my final summer vacation before I graduate with my Bachelor’s and I wanted to take advantage of the time by using it as an opportunity to take a summer class and try to attain a professional internship. I succeeded in this goal by completing my Senior Thesis class after the spring semester and obtaining an internship at Cornerstone. I entitled my thesis ‘Diversity in Visual Storytelling’ because that’s what I’m passionate about. Simply put, my thesis statement was this:

“A diversified culture and socially just society is achieved by creating and nurturing diverse culture makers who aim to explore the complexity of human nature and honestly and effectively represent it through visual storytelling.”

In my essay, I talked about how theatre, film, and television played significant roles in establishing the social institutes that plague us today, such as racism, sexism, and homo/transphobia. However, I offer a possible solution by proposing that, as visual and performing artists, we all have a responsibility to create the culture that we wish to live in. In a sense, it’s like saying ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’. And this is exactly how Cornerstone operates with their productions. They take the voices of the communities they work in and give them a platform to communicate the truths of their lives honestly and effectively. This then provides the community an opportunity to have these hearty conversations and unite through their expressed diversity. Not only that, they are also provided with a chance to be creative together and use performance art as an effective tool of communication.

A 1920s adapted production of A Midsummer Night's Dream I performed in last fall. Photo courtesy of A O'Brien Photography.

A 1920s adapted production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream I performed in last fall. Photo courtesy of A O’Brien Photography.

KMC Tempest Pacoima Picks25

A still from Cornerstone’s original adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest titled ‘California: The Tempest’. Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell.

I would definitely consider the Los Angeles County Arts Commission as an initiator of this idea as well because of the internship program that they offer to undergraduate students. They have given us an opportunity to study society from our respective positions and learn how to use our talents and creativity. It is amazing to see how established artists nurture and develop future leading artists and how our work this summer is making a meaningful contribution to the arts. As future artists, we should take it upon ourselves to seek out opportunities and engage with those established artists in an attempt to continue to learn and grow in our crafts. Let’s make the most out of our internships and gain a better sense of how to create a culture we wish to see future generations grow up in.
Ultimately, every single one of us have something to offer to this world. It’s very easy to fall into the pit of bitterness, negativity, and hopelessness, but that is exactly why we need artists who can lead us into a more understanding, loving, and accepting culture. It is no secret that media has an intense impact on the way we view ourselves and each other, so why not harness that power and positively affect society with revolutionary visual storytelling?

Written by Joseph Reyes, Cornerstone’s Communications Intern. Joseph is studying Theatre Arts and Business Management at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA. This internship is made possible by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Summer Internship Program.

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