Last week, YPT kicked off what is always one of the most fun and exciting parts of our season: the In-School Playwriting Program. I was fortunate enough to not only teach one of the first workshops, but also to observe many others throughout DC.
The first week of classes is the beginning of an exciting twelve-week experience during which students from grades 4-11 are taken through the process of writing a play. Once a week, students meet with their teaching artist to learn about characters, conflict, format, dialogue and other aspects of playwriting. As the weeks progress, the students build toward writing their own play, which will be performed for them by professional actors in the final workshop. The best of these completed plays are chosen by YPT to be performed at GALA Hispanic Theatre in the spring.
Students begin the first workshop by brainstorming what a play is. At Plummer Elementary School, one student said, “A play is telling a story on-stage!” At Bancroft Elementary School, another student added that a play is “a way to express yourself and your emotions.” After offering their ideas, the students watch professional actors perform a short play created by YPT. The play ends at a climactic moment, at which point students are called on to create their own endings to the play. Ideas the students called out involved science labs, light sabers, the FBI, severed fingers, secret lairs, ransom, witches melting, and detention. The students were on the edges of their seats with excitement as they watched the actors bring their ideas to life before their eyes.
As incredible at it was to witness the students’ creativity, watching their confidence grow throughout the workshop was even more exciting. At one point a student at Wilson High School called out, “I have a brilliant idea!” We hope all students will develop this attitude during their semester with YPT!