Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Philadelphia Young Playwrights 2008: Birney MS

Wow! It's been almost a year since my last post on my blog. Life has been an emotional roller coaster! While I was doing my show at the Media Theatre I was teaching a playwrighting/theatre workshop at Birney MS through Philadelphia Young Play Wrights. Philadelphia Young Playwrights is an intensive arts-education program that pairs a professional teaching artist with a classroom teacher. The two work together as an Artistic Team, guiding and supporting students in the process of writing a play. The program fosters student learning, exploring and succeeding. Up to 1500 students are served directly at as many as 50 program sites each year. More than 60 prominent playwrights and many other professional theatre artists have served as teaching artists over the years. This was my first year with the program and I was assigned to Birney MS in the Logan section of the city. Ever since I quit teaching drama full time three years ago I would get moments of really missing teaching. I loved working with inner city students in the arts. I was teaching drama with Congreso for four years and I really miss those students and that program. So young playwrights was an avenue for me to get back into it but I was only commited to teach one 90 minute workshop a week. So it was perfect for my schedule. I first saw a PYPW performance in 2003 when I got of tour with The Top of the Mountain. My friends Nakia and Kamal were in a PYPW show and asked to come. At first I was skeptical. I mean I really didn't want to see a play written by middle schoolers! However, when I saw the show I was very suprised how talented these kids were! Their writing was very raw and honest. Ever since I saw that show I wanted to be apart of that program but I was teaching full-time and was never able to until five years later when I was working for myself. When I was assigned to Birney MS in January of 2008 I was little nervous. I hadn't taught in two years and I never taught playwrighting. As the weeks went by I got more comfortable. My students really loved the workshop and really put alot into their plays. My co-teacher Kelly Compton was great and we had good chemistry working with the students. We had our mini-playwrighting festival at Birney MS on June 6th 2008. Professional actors came and did readings of my students plays in front of their parents and the school. My students were so nervous! It went really well. In fact I found out one of my students Nasheeta Tucker came in 3rd place in all of Philadelphia! Amy Hodgdon who runs the program would ask me over the summer to come back to Birney in 2009 and I agreed. I was really looking forward to coming back to Birney in 2009!

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