"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Student playwriting opportunities

Our administration is pressing for teachers to develop authentic-based learning, and having spent many years working in the world outside the classroom, I am in whole-hearted agreement with this goal.

In writing, there are few more authentic tasks than writing and presenting a play. Although most playwriting is a solo effort, the presentation becomes a collaborative effort. The process is riddled with problem-solving, there is a firm, real-world deadline (the first performance), and the audience is, well..the audience. Unlike other, more personal forms of expression, the playwright has the audience in mind at all times.

There are a number of playwriting competitions that have special significance for and connection to our students at New Milford High School (NJ):

Thespian Playworks is an activity of the Educational Theater Association, parent of the International Thespian Society, the theater honor society of which teacher our John Coviello has formed a chapter here at NMHS. Their competition is for plays 30 minutes or less. Each of the four plays accepted will be developed in a professional atmosphere with a director, dramaturg and full production. The deadline is February 1, 2010. You can read about the competition and the program here.

The New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival is an offshot of the Playwrights Theater. This competition is looking for plays up to 20 minutes in length, and (unlike Thespian Playworks) the plays may be written in collaboration. Semi-finalists receive a staged reading by professional actors in a festival in May at Kean University. The deadline is January 8, 2010, and you can read about this competition here.

Finally, we have our own intramural NMHS competition. Plays should be between 10 and 20 minutes in length, and all semi-finalists get semi-staged productions here in May. There are VISA gift card prizes. The deadline will be April 1, 2010 and the rules will be published shortly.

Naturally, any work can be entered in any or all of these competitions. I want to encourage my fellow teachers to incorporate this in their lessons, in order to demonstrate that writing can be more than a exercise to be judged by a teacher.

No comments:

Post a Comment