Celebrating the end of a busy summer camp season, the New York Film Academy was privileged to share an incredible opportunity with our New York City campers to attend Dominique Morisseau’s original play, “PIPELINE,” at the Lincoln Center Theater (LCT). Morisseau is an accomplished writer whose credits include theatre hits like “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Detroit ’67,” “Blood at the Root,” “Sunset Baby” and TV’s “Shameless.” To add to the excitement, “PIPELINE” also stars NYFA Instructor Jaime Lincoln Smith, whose credits include Broadway’s “Holler if Ya Hear Me” and the TV shows “Blue Bloods” and “Elementary.”
“PIPELINE” was an especially timely and thought-provoking piece to share with NYFA’s teen students, as it portrays a mother’s hopes for her son clashing with an educational system rigged against him.
To facilitate the event, Morisseau coordinated with NYFA Director of Youth Programs Kenzie Ross to arrange a special performance for a student based-audience, organized by LCT with teenagers attending from different schools and organizations all over the greater New York City area. Dominique Morisseau and Kenzie Ross had previously worked together on her play, “Blood at the Root,” and discovered their mutual passion for bringing young people to the arts.
To facilitate the special showing of “PIPELINE,” Morisseau collected personal donations during previews to sponsor student tickets later in the run, and people volunteered happily. From NYFA, three students from the Liberation Diploma Outreach Program and one student from NYFA Kids Summer Camps were able to attend, together with NYFA Youth Enrollment Admissions Specialist Sarah Kinsey and Director of Youth Programs Kenzie Ross.
“It was truly moving to be a part of an audience of young people as their voices were heard and they watched themselves be represented on stage in an authentic way,” shared Kenzie Ross. “This conversation between parent and student, particularly between young black men and their mothers, is an incredibly raw and significant one due to the climate of our education system today. To hear and feel a mother’s heartache as she watches her son float in and out of her ability to keep him safe is beautifully mirrored by seeing her son, a young black teen, grapple with his own heartache and frustration as he struggles with his own place in society and concepts of reality.”
After the performance, students were treated to an exclusive talkback with the artists, covering many topics including like the school to prison pipeline in our country; the craft of acting; the experience of being a person of color in the entertainment industry; and how the many different perspectives from different characters in the script lend to the complexity of this issue.
NYFA camp students then had a chance after the talkback to meet with NYFA Instructor Jaime Lincoln Smith at a restaurant nearby to say congratulations and chat in more detail about his experience with the play.