The program has attracted more than 600 students from 13 schools in the National Capital District to learn about important social issues and how to make their communities aware of them.
This year’s theme is “Your Voice”.
It emphasised the importance of being able to discuss and debate issues, how to express opinions and communicate with others.
NGOs such as Toastmasters and Transparency International PNG taught the students about important social issues such as corruption, caring for the environment, sexual and family violence and inclusiveness for people with disabilities.
The NGO information sessions were followed by lessons in theatre skills from a team of university Community Theatre students led by Dr. Jane Awi.
Dr Awi is the Director for Centre for Melanesian Studies and Research in the School of Humanities, at the University of Goroka.
She teaches performative literature and brought some of her students to assist with the drama exercises. The drama teachers provided the students with drama skills and gave tips on how to convert the NGO messages into street theatre.
Dr. Awi said the Youth Arts Program empowers students to discover their own potential and express their own voice, using drama and theatre and creativity, to explore ideas, issues, people, places and happenings in the world.
She said the theme promotes individuals to speak up for themselves and others.
Dr. Awi added that YAP is a fabulous initiative for building awareness of critical social issues and encouraging self-expression and leadership among young people.
“Young people are brought together through YAP to understand, construct and communicate social and cultural values through arts. This empowers them to have a voice in their schools, communities and society at large.”
Following the two weeks at MAT, students will return to their schools and continue to rehearse their plays.
In week six they will return to MAT for two days to perform the finished and polished sketches. Awards will be given for the best plays and actors.
YAP is supported by the Australian Government through the PNG Australia Alumni Awards.