Alright, so this is a tad delayed, but about three weeks ago, I had the honor of acting for the Massachusetts Young Playwright’s Festival, hosted by the Boston Playwright’s Theatre. This festival is a celebration of high school playwright from across the state, and given a team of actors and a director, we have about 80-minutes to stage a ten-minute play they’ve written.
I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous about going. Partially because this was my first paid acting gig in years, partially because I’ve steered clear of high-schoolers since graduating, but mostly because I’m really terrified and in awe of theatre education.
For those of you who know me, you’ll know I’ve never really connected with The Youth, and I’m pretty sure my own childhood is a conspiracy theory. Now, I know high schoolers aren’t children, but this is the closest I’ve gone to dipping my toes into the world of theatre as a tool for education.
I read for three different plays throughout the week, and let me tell you, The Youth of today are a really smart bunch. They were asking questions about their process as writers that I didn’t even start asking until my junior year in college. There were plays filled with wordplay and puns. PUNS!!! Theatre is always dying, but The Youth is fixing that with the Power of PUNS!
Did Young Playwrights Week make me want to go into teaching? No, not necessarily, but I left that week with a newfound appreciation for the power of new play development in our education system. I saw plays that took unique looks at the stresses of adolescence in a way that I had forgotten. They were able to stage scenes and include dialogue that may otherwise have been censored in school essays.
It took me a year of college to shake off the fear ingrained from high school that what I really wanted to write would get me in trouble. If my high school had playwriting as a part of their curriculum the way so many other MA high schools do, I can’t help but wonder how different of a writer I would be today.
Not only does Arts Education matter in our school systems, but the freedom allotted in a medium such as playwriting creates an outlet for collaboration and communication that goes far beyond the classroom. Thank you, The Youth, for allowing me the opportunity to read your witty, insightful words.