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In the Listen Up! program, local youth participate in storytelling by making documentary films. Differing from traditional “questionnaire only” documentaries, Listen Up! engages young people in a journey of self discovery by experimenting with creative expression and storytelling art-forms. From science experiments, music, and movement, to writing, painting, drawing or any other combination of inventive activities, students investigate their own personal perspectives and are filmed sharing their stories in their own words.

No experience is necessary because students are given the space to formulate their own viewpoints, to listen deeply to their peers, and to learn about filmmaking along the way. Both the process and the final presentation are filmed, and the program culminates with the creations being shared during StoryFest.

Listen Up! Finding Acceptance

Everyone has a story. Listen Up! is a program that engages young people in storytelling through the art of filmmaking. As part of the Orpheum’s ACTs of Engagement, the 2021 session of the Listen Up! program followed seven students on a journey of discovery as they created a dramatic documentary film exploring the theme of acceptance.

With the support of Orpheum Teaching Artists, the seven students began the process of creative expression in a virtual setting, and then, they came together in-person on the Orpheum campus to film and produce their poetic presentations and dramatic reenactments about finding acceptance.


Watch as Azriel, Graham, Jalyiah, Jerame, Layla, Madison, and Makhia share their stories. Thank you to C19TV for premiering Finding Acceptance on June 14!


Please note that Listen Up stories are created and shared by the students you see, in their own words and voices, from their own points of view, and the Orpheum embraces all stories. Some material contains mature themes.

Participant Perspectives

"My Listen Up! experience has been great and very uplifting, because I got to explore with others and share my stuff with others. And it’s been really fun participating. It has shown me to be myself no matter what."— Antonio, Douglass High, 10th Grade

"My Listen Up! experience has been great because I’ve learned so much about myself and others. And I’ve learned about who I really am, and what I really want to do in life. And being in the program, I got to meet so many great people. I just love this program because I got close to a lot of people. Closer to people than I have been in years." — Detriunna, Douglass High, 12th Grade

"Listen Up! has provided me with a space that lets me express things that bother me or things that I just genuinely care about. And all the while I get to do it with my friends."
Sincere, Douglass High, 12th Grade

"To hear our story while a pandemic is still in effect should give relief. Relief for the simple fact we have plans that will make this world better and that theres individuals that actually care. Whether it's face to face or virtual the message that should be received from this will still remain the same, that we have a voice and it's about time it's heard." —DeAndre, Douglass High, 12th Grade

"I feel it so paramount that our young people give voice to their personal narratives. So often they are marginalized or seen as foreign entities that don’t matter. This platform offers that opportunity . The opportunity to speak and to share their stories. Deconstruct any notions of the single narrative that prevents some from seeing others as human. This is relevant even more so now than ever. With the lingering effects of COVID-19, people are afraid . It is platforms such as these that give us the time we need to learn about others. This new way of connecting may give us new eyes in a world that always makes young people invisible." — Crystal L. Johnson-Evans, Live Seed, Inc. Exec. Director

Listen Up! Documentaries



In partnership with Memphis Academy of Health Sciences, the Butterfly Effect Girls Mentoring Program, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women

Earlier this year, our Listen Up! storytelling program set out to document the impact of service on the participating students’ lives. When schools shut down, not only was Listen Up! affected, so were the organizations working with those young people. Our entire program had to pivot — we went from telling the stories of youth to telling the stories of the organizations who serve them, and how COVID-19 affected them.

We invite you to watch what happens when local organizations making an impact ended up impacted themselves. This story of innovation, resiliency, and forward-thinking proves that while the world around us changes, the dedication of the Orpheum and other nonprofits serving young people in the Mid-South never wavers. 



In partnership with Douglass High School

When we hear each other’s stories, we grow as a community. This digital storytelling documentary (in partnership with seven student artists from The Live Seed at Douglass High School) follows the journey of Antonio, Charles, Detriunna, Dre, Kaiiteaa, Sincere, and Whitney as they define and shape their individual legacies.

In March 2020, these seven students from Douglass High School were wrapping their Listen Up! documentary. The film was slated to premiere as part of the inaugural StoryFest in April 2020, but then the pandemic hit and Story Fest was postponed. While we were not able to gather together in-person, this film and the stories of these young people were shared on Youtube Live in an interactive virtual event in the fall of 2020.

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