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Valley Youth Theatre's 'Dear 2020!' explores youth perspectives during COVID-19 pandemic

The onset of the pandemic was tough for everyone in 2020.

Now, cast members ages 9 to 17 at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix have the chance to share how the pandemic has affected them in "Dear 2020!"

"Dear 2020!" is a series of original monologues written by the young cast members and focuses on the highs and lows of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve all been living through this for two years, and we don’t hear from the children, we don’t often hear their voices,” said Bobb Cooper, producing artistic director at Valley Youth Theatre.

Cooper said the young playwrights share common feelings of uncertainty, loss and isolation in each monologue, while also finding some silver linings, comedy and humanity in the midst of a global pandemic.

“One of the common themes was roller coasters, one was the passage of time, a lot of time, and not knowing what was happening next,” Cooper said of the monologues written by cast members in 2020.

Valley Youth Theatre's education director and a student playwright shaped the cast's writings from 2020 into a cohesive piece to perform, according to Cooper. 

"Dear 2020!" opens Friday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m.

Athena Ankrah is an assistant producer for KJZZ's The Show.Ankrah graduated from Arizona State University in 2023 with a bachelor’s in journalism and a second degree in Chicano media and expressive culture.Before accepting a national student Edward R. Murrow award for Radio Feature Reporting in 2023, Ankrah began their broadcasting career in high school, where they hosted a monthly Teen Talk radio show.Originally from Peoria, Arizona, she enjoys singing in her car and tending to their beloved houseplants.