Playwrighting Program Achieves Results

Theatre for a New Audience’s Education Department finished 2009 on a high note with the completion of the New Voices Playwriting program in public schools. One 7th-grade class in Brooklyn especially captured the hearts of their Teaching Artist Erin McCready and the Theatre’s education staff.

The English class, made up mostly of ESL and academically-challenged students, began the 13-week residency with basic writing skills. McCready taught the students the elements of playwriting through dramatic activities and improvisation, encouraging them to work with others to create storylines and dialogue. Then, she helped them compile the ideas into one short play.

In the 10th week, the students heard their play read aloud by two professional actors. McCready then led them through rewrites and further developments in the text.

Finally, the residency culminated with a full cast of professional actors performing a dramatic reading of the class’s play. “When the residency began, the majority of students had never seen or even read a play,” explained McCready. “Every student in the class increased their capacity for writing and understanding conflict and character.”

The classroom teacher has decided to continue using playwriting with the students into the spring as a means to encourage and deepen the writing skills they learned in the residency.

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