Youth Speaks explores broken families in Stockton with ‘Pilgrim Street’

By Lily Janiak

In 2018, Youth Speaks might be best known as the arts organization where Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal (“Blindspotting”) sharpened their chops, but the 22-year-old nonprofit’s greatest legacy is its work amplifying the voices of generations of Bay Area youth via writing, spoken word poetry, theater and more.

With its “Pilgrim Street,” whose world premiere runs Thursday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept. 16, at Z Space, the company continues its proud tradition of making art on the front lines of current events that directly impact local youth.

Paul S. Flores’ play is about Stockton families who have been separated by a variety of insidious forces, ranging from ICE to the school-to-prison pipeline to the foster system. He wrote the show based on real-life testimonies of staffers of and participants in the prison re-entry program run by Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, a Stockton-based nonprofit. “Pilgrim Street” is set 20 years in the future, when new technology hacked from a firm called GrupeTech can help reunite families, but only at a steep price.

Sean San José directs.

“Pilgrim Street”: 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13; 2 p.m. (special free performance for Bay Area youth) and 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14; 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15; 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16. $5-$25. Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F. 415-626-0453. www.zspace.org

Youth Speaks explores broken families in Stockton with ‘Pilgrim Street’