Promising Playwrights, Summer 2019
Elementary School Students Azaiyah and Jackelyn have been working together as one of many co-writing pairs in Mr. Jared Strange’s workshop for YPT’s All the World’s a Stage Summer Enrichment Program at Garrison Elementary School. Garrison is one of eight DC School sites hosting workshops for the program. In each class, students spent three weeks with YPT teaching artists to collaborate and write an original play. Then, for two weeks, they worked with Keegan Theatre teaching artists to rehearse and produce and the final week, they perform their play for their peers, teachers and family. At the time of this interview, Azaiyah and Jackelyn were working on a couple of scenes that are part of Garrison’s group play.
The play, currently Untitled, is about two kids, Neveah and Steve, who find a large egg on a beach and run into a time traveler who needs help getting back to his own time. But the evil Mr. Goose is trying to stop them.
“We got to pick the story and Neveah was one of the characters that we made up and Steve was another character,” explains Azaiyah. “Mr. Jared said that [our play] had to do with time, so we thought about time travel.”
The playwrights said it was fun but challenging writing the play because there were times when they didn’t know where they wanted to take the story. “We have to write a lot and add a lot of details,” says Jackelyn. “Sometimes I’d run out of details and don’t know what to write.”
But their solution around the occasional writers’ block was reviewing the dialogue they had written until they figured out what came next. Of the best part of the program, Jackelyn says: “You get to share it out in front of the class and they give us some ideas on how to fix it or make it better.”
Neither playwrights are strangers to writing. Azaiyah has written stories on her own time, while at home. “I plan on—when I grow older—to become a writer and a book publisher because lots of kids love to read books and I love books too,” says Azaiyah. “At home, sometimes, I would get this little journal and I would write things out.”
For Jackelyn, she started writing creatively in a Writing Workshop class. “In my school, we do a writer’s workshop and we have publishing parties where the teachers would come in and see what we are writing,” explains Jackelyn. “One of them was about information books, so I do that at home, like about how to pick your right clothes or how to make fruit cocktail.”
For Mr. Jared’s class, though, the students were finalizing their play so that the following two weeks they could rehearse, create props and perform. “I can’t wait to start the play. I want to see how it’s gonna turn out and how we’re going to make the egg and other stuff,” exclaims Azaiyah. The students presented their plays July 24 through July 26, 2019, at Spooky Action Theatre in Washington, DC.