Students Explore their Talents as Playwrights

Scripts get the chance to go on stage

Thursday March 04, 10
by C.J. Lin, Times-Picayune

Students explore their talents as playwrights

Scripts get chance to go on stage
Thursday, March 04, 2010
By C.J. Lin
Contributing writer

A few weeks ago, Alyssa Tripps had never given a thought to characters, conflict, drama and resolutions -- elements of every story.

But next month, Alyssa, a fifth-grade student at St. Mary's Academy in eastern New Orleans, will have combined those elements to write and publish her own original play. Her play might even be among a dozen chosen from scripts written by 100 fifth- and seventh-grade students that will be professionally acted out on stage.

The young playwrights, who also come from Bethune Elementary and the International School of Louisiana, are participants in Play/Write: A Children's Playwriting Festival. The festival, hosted by Goat in the Road Productions -- a local nonprofit dedicated to theater, dance and performance art -- consists of a 10-week playwriting workshop that culminates in each student receiving a bound copy of their scripts and a showcase of the plays.

Alyssa said the workshop inspired her to pen her play as a modern, inner-city version of "Romeo and Juliet" or "Little Red Riding Hood." It also solidified her aspirations to become an actress by offering her a look into the writing process.

"It's helping me, because I've always wanted to deal with acting," Alyssa said after a brainstorming and freewriting session in mid-February.

During that 90-minute workshop, students got up in front of the class to act out simple conflicts, such as one child trying to get his basketball back from another. Earlier sessions had the students imagining and acting out possible deleted scenes from "Little Red Riding Hood," which spawned characters such as grandmothers fighting in a nursing home.

At their first freewriting session, the playwrights stretched their imaginations by asking questions after looking at a series of black and white photos depicting a variety of scenes ranging from a man being followed by a pack of penguins to a group portrait from the 1800s where one man lay in a tree....