Lisa Condit spoke with student Owen Fitzpatrick and his mother, Carolyn. Owen has been a guest blogger for The Hanover Theatre, and Carolyn is a Broadway subscriber and Franklin Square Society member. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below.
Lisa: I first become familiar with Carolyn and Owen because Carolyn had sent me an essay her son had written. I remember reading it and I was blown away by the insightfulness. Owen has become a guest blogger for us. Most recently, Owen wrote a piece called “Getting to Know a Different Time and Culture.”
Owen: It was about “The King and I.”
Lisa: It’s the conversational tone that really hooks people and brings people in.
Owen: The main part of the blog is about culture. In “The King and I,” there is a lot of diversity. I felt like it should be a big factor in the blog.
Lisa: You say, “Conflicts in race and religion are deep divides that will not be solved by eradicating or reeducating. The bridge is respect.” Carolyn, as a mom, what did you think when you read these words?
Carolyn: I thought, “Where did this kid come from?” I can’t take credit. It comes from another place. Owen has always been a deep thinker. It shows me that he is paying attention to so much in the world around him. That’s one of the reasons we love bringing our kids to The Hanover Theatre and exposing them to the Broadway shows. You can’t predict what will resonate with kids.
Lisa: You bring your kids to more than just the Broadway shows. It is a way to talk about the issues and talk about respect. Respect seems to be a topic that a lot of people talk about, not a lot of people demonstrate, and everybody wants.
I want to go back to the first blog. It started with Owen’s piece on Ebenezer Scrooge.
Owen: About a year ago, I won the Library of Congress essay contest from Massachusetts. I was first out of about 10,000 other children. The essay was about a letter to Charles Dickens. I wrote about “A Christmas Carol.” The Hanover Theatre featured it on their blog and invited me to keep writing. I’ve written about “Something Rotten!,” “Jersey Boys,” “RENT” and “The King and I.”
Recently, I won the Library of Congress essay contest again. I am the second in 25 years to win the essay contest twice, and the only kid in Massachusetts.
Lisa: Congratulations Owen, and to you Carolyn. We all know that it takes a village. This is about arts in the day to day, and theatre and literature and how it can heal and become a platform for conversation.
Carolyn: I can go back to when we took our boys to Shakespeare in the Park when they were little. The way they sat and really focused on the words and tried to figure it out. Being able to watch the actors and piece together the whole show, we couldn’t believe how interested they were. It started as an experiment. They were only nine and seven. One of the keys was sitting up front and avoiding distractions. To us, investing in what they are able to see and do is worth it.
Lisa: I love seeing all of you at the theatre. I’m so proud that a student from Massachusetts, never mind from Worcester county, never mind one of our subscribers, is the one that is winning all of these awards. I can’t wait to see what is next for Owen. He is entering 8th grade in the fall. Do you have plans for next year?
Carolyn: Do you want to talk about the book that you’re writing?
Owen: It’s kind of complicated.
Carolyn: Someone is getting embarrassed. Owen decided to take the 20 vocabulary words that he has in his English class. Instead of writing 20 sentences, Owen decide to write a chapter of a book, and he will have the opportunity to be in front of a panel of literary agents with the first pages of his book. It’s about an art heist.
Lisa: I am looking forward to reading the next blog that you write. It makes me feel really good knowing through people like Owen, we are helping to achieve our mission of fostering a love and appreciation for the performing arts. Thank you Owen and Carolyn for collaborating and participating with us.