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Playwriting: It’s Not Just for Adults

March 17, 2023

For over 30 years, FST’s arts-in education initiative, WRITE A PLAY, has been inspiring the next generation of playwrights. This award-winning program is designed to give school students the example, the inspiration, and the tools to write their own plays. Since its conception in 1991, WRITE A PLAY has impacted over one million children, teaching them that they have the creativity, the courage, and the ability to write plays just as well as — and if not better than — adults.

The impact of WRITE A PLAY doesn’t stop at the Sarasota County line, the Florida State line, or even at the US border. The program has grown to reach students as far away nationally as New Jersey and Illinois and internationally in countries like Israel and Scotland.

“Part of FST’s mission is to make theatre accessible and affordable to as many people as possible,” said Caroline Saldivar, FST’s Director of Children’s Theatre. “By taking WRITE A PLAY programming on tour, we are able to reach beyond our immediate community and share the art of theatre-making with children all over the country.”

This season, WRITE A PLAY expands its reach yet again, this time, heading for Memphis, TN.

“The idea to bring WRITE A PLAY to Memphis actually came from a former FST Acting Apprentice, Kyle Van Frank, who also helped lead these WRITE A PLAY playwrighting lessons in the schools, himself,” said Saldivar. “He loved the program so much that he wanted to help FST make this connection with the very same school he attended as a child.”

“I have worked at many theatre education camps and programs over the years,” said Van Frank. “And I found that WRITE A PLAY was the most effective and had the greatest impact.”

With the support from the John Dustin Buckman Charitable Trust, this year, FST is bringing WRITE A PLAY to five schools belonging to the Catholic Diocese of Memphis for the first time.

First, these students experienced FST’s theatre’s touring production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Then, FST’s team led in-classroom playwriting workshops and an interactive performance to help students learn the ingredients of a play and help create a brand-new one—using their own ideas.

“This experience could very possibly be the first time many of these students have ever seen a play,” said Van Frank.

“Our students were spellbound by these performances,” said Diana K., a third grade teacher. “The actors were magnificent and awesome when answering students’ questions at the end of the performance. It was an amazing and educational experience for our students.”

Next, Memphis students will submit the plays they’ve written to FST’s annual playwriting competition.

FST receives thousands of play submissions each year by young students. Each play is read at least twice by FST staff and a group of community volunteers. About one dozen winning plays are selected to be mounted in a full-scale production and brought to life by a cast of professional actors. This year, that show is titled The Last Acorn & Other Winning Plays.

We invite you to see what exciting plays participating students have imagined this year on stage at FST beginning March 25.

The Last Acorn & Other Winning Plays is playing for families this spring on select Saturdays and Sundays in FST’s Keating Theatre.