At just 18-years-old, Anya Jiménez is making her Lincoln Center debut.
“It is time to get out and I’m really excited for what’s next,” Jiménez said.
Jiménez is one of eight teenage playwrights from across the country selected to highlight gun violence in America through a series of plays performed at Lincoln Center. She says she drew inspiration from her own family.
“A lot of that sort of came from conversations I’d had with my father about his experience as an Afro-Latino man who grew up in the city and was raised by immigrant parents. And talking about this very real fear that they had for his life and he has for his own life and that really deeply affected me,” Jiménez said.
Her play was chosen by #ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence, a program that holds nationwide readings every year on the anniversary of the Columbine mass shooting. The idea for her play “It’s Okay” came from a stream of consciousness exercise.
Jiménez says her feelings of sadness and frustration could perfectly be summarized in a few words, “’It shouldn’t have happened.' That phrase really resonated with me because anything that I talked about that was social injustice or personal grief or anything like that, that was the perfect way to articulate that feeling that I had.”
A budding playwright, Jiménez keeps her journal with her at all times should inspiration strike.
“I write a lot of scene fragments and put together puzzle pieces of what I’m working on. Whether that’s for school or for my own personal project all in here,” she said.
“It’s Okay” is about grieving mother who struggles to grapple with reality following a mass shooting at her daughter’s elementary school. Jiménez says it’s up to her generation to start difficult conversations about gun violence and social justice.
“I think it’s very easy to let things get reduced to statistics and numbers, reduced to the facts of things because it’s overwhelming to explore that grief to the fullest extent. But it also does a disservice to people who aren’t here because of gun violence,” she said.
A packed David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center watched the performances Wednesday night, giving the work of a senior at the Professional Performing Arts School, exposure she always hoped for, but Jiménez stays focused on the message.
“I think it’s something that isn’t talked about nearly as much as it should be and I really have a deep faith in the power of art as it relates to advocacy and social change so this is the perfect synthesis to those things,” Jiménez said.
You can watch all eight plays at enoughplays.com/reading.