Florida Studio Theatre’s award-winning arts-in education program, WRITE A PLAY, is back in full swing!
The program kicked off in September with a bold new interpretation of Charlotte’s Web, bringing classes and educational groups to FST’s campus. One Tuttle Elementary student said, “This is my first field trip, and it’s the best one ever!” Another student, Michael M., shared, “That was phenomenal, I would give it 100 stars if I could!”
For schools that can’t visit FST’s campus in-person, an imaginative two-person adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe travels across Florida, bringing the magic of theatre to schools across the state.
“One of the most valuable parts of FST’s WRITE A PLAY program is that students have permission to feel and express any emotion they want when they’re watching one of these plays,” said FST’s Director of Children’s Theatre, Caroline Saldivar. “They feel a connection between their individual lives and the story playing out in front of them. In this difficult time in our world, this freedom of emotion and connection is rare but so very important.”
After schools attend a performance of Charlotte’s Web or The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, they are visited by FST's Playmakers. This troupe of Actor-Teaching Artists perform plays written by young students for classrooms and lead playwriting workshops.
This year, FST's Playmakers toured throughout the state of Florida for five months and performed three plays—each written by a student in Kindergarten through sixth grade—for each school audience. Students learned about using their imagination with Out of the Box, laughed along with the silly antics of a talking hockey stick in The Hockey Stick and the Puck, and were reminded that being little doesn’t mean you can’t do big things with The Forgetful Squirrels.
After watching these plays and learning about the four ingredients to any good play—Character, Setting, Problem, and Dialogue—it’s time for the students to bring their own ideas to life. Using students’ suggestions, FST's Playmakers improvise an all-new, never-before-seen play right before the students’ eyes.
Next, using the playwriting building blocks they’ve already learned, students work closely with the Playmakers, putting pen to paper as they tell their own stories.
“Children live in the world of metaphor,” said FST Associate Director At-Large and co-creator of WRITE A PLAY Kate Alexander. “There is a depth to their stories — a depth that relates to us all.”
And what exactly is the impact of WRITE A PLAY?
Every year, FST receives thousands of student play submissions from across the state and as far as New Jersey, Illinois, Scotland, and Israel. Past award-winners have written plays that are sincere and heartfelt like this year's title play about an acorn who is scared to leave its mother tree, learning “When it is your time to go, you must go.” They’ve also written clever comedies, like It’s Not Easy Traveling with Grandma, which showcases the trials and tribulations of going to the airport with your grandmother. As they say, the play’s the thing, and these young artists deliver.
WRITE A PLAY culminates with "Under Six," a professional production of the year's winning plays. This year that show is titled The Last Acorn & Other Winning Plays. This curated anthology of creative, imaginative, and brave short plays will tell compelling stories that only children could write.
Finally, in the spring, we host the annual Young Playwrights Festival—one of our favorite days of the year. Participating WRITE A PLAY students, teachers, and families from far and wide gather at FST to enjoy live performances of the year’s winning plays. Playwrights are honored in an awards ceremony and are presented with certificates and medals on stage.
We hope you'll join us for a public production of The Last Acorn & Other Winning Plays beginning March 25 in FST's Keating Theatre.