On Monday, May 11, New Orleans-based theatre company Goat in the Road Productions will present a showcase for their Play/Write program, a year-long arts integrated curriculum designed to teach loacl youngsters the craft of writing a play, while simultaneously strengthening their writing skills. The final showcase pairs ten of the 100+ students, from four different schools, with local performance companies that will bring the students’ productions to life. Learn more about the program here.
Program director Shannon Flaherty recently sat down with each of the students and asked them about their writing process, inspiration, and how the program has impacted them. Here’s what they said:
Shannon Flaherty: What was your inspiration for your play?
Empress (from the International School of Louisiana; Found You): The inspiration was from when we did a See and Write exercise, and there was a picture of the whole Pandora and the box myth… but instead of doing the whole story I thought I could use a bit of my personal touch.
James (ISL; To Make Toast): I saw a picture of a toaster and a microwave.
Rafael (ISL; James Shows How to Play Soccer): Soccer. I like a lot of soccer, so I wanted to write about soccer. James [one of my characters] is a professional soccer player.
Shelby (from St. Mary’s Academy): I wanted to write something scary because I love scary movies. I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone, something with Freddy Kruger and the latest scary movies in it.
Sariah (St. Mary’s; The Filthy Socks): The inspiration for The Filthy Sock came from an incident when I went home and my sisters and I were playing. We were playing basketball with the dirty clothes basket and then filthy socks came out. And I said, ‘you know what that’s what I am going to write about’. That one just hit me.
Louis (St. Mary’s; Shall not Write on Me): My play is about writing with pencil on paper from a prompt that told us to write a play about inanimate objects. I thought it would be funny to make a play inside of a play.
Nasir (from Renew; Dirty Life): The night before I wrote my play, Dirty Life, I was watching Toy Story with my sister. I looked at the little potato figures on my teacher Mr. Pacifico’s desk and then I was like, ‘I’m gonna write it about potatoes’.
Ashleigh (Renew; She’s Going to Hollywood): I wish I could go to Hollywood in real life. I’ve wanted to do that since I was in first grade. My momma said that her momma liked to sing, and my momma likes to sing, plus my step momma like to sing, and I like to sing too. So
SF: What is your favorite play (or movie) and how did this inspire your work?
Lonni (from Success; Five Nights at Freddy’s): My favorite game is Five Nights at Freddy’s; it’s a jump scare game. That means that it has these little animatronics that try to kill you because you’re the Security Guard. There’s also a movie about it, but I’ve never seen it, so I wanted to make my own version. It’s based on a true story, but the true story’s a little sad so I’m not going in to that.
Jonelro (Success; Rise of the Alien): My favorite movie was Malibu’s Most Wanted, and it inspired me to write the play because it was a funny movie and I figured since it was a funny movie, I could make it a funny play.
SF: Tell me about your history with writing.
Empress: I have written two or three plays at other schools, but it’s never come to the point when a big company, like Dillard, has performed it, like they’ll do with this one.
Rafael: In Colombia we used to write stories, like 200 lines, and we would have to present them to the whole class.
SF: What do you like most about writing? Least?
Shelby: You can put your own stuff and style in it. It takes a long time to think about all the stuff you have to do, and to see how to put it together so people can understand it.
Sariah: You don’t have to know what you’re going to write; you can write anything you want on the paper. The thing I like least is that it takes a lot of time.
Louis: You can write and it can be about anything. The hard part about it is it has to be right – it has to be in order.
Nasir: I get to express my every feeling and just shove it all into the play.
Ashleigh: I get to think about me. The play was about me because I like to sing.
SF: What was the hardest part about writing a play?
Lonni: You have to include all of the directions, the stage art. You’ve gotta make sure you spell everything right; you have to make sure everything’s on point. The hardest part is the beginning because you have to introduce the characters.
Jonelro: The hardest part was I creating a problem for the plot. I created one, but it was hard finding the solution to the problem.
Nasir: At the beginning, you have to think about what you’re going to write about, and you don’t know what’s going to happen to that play in the future.
SF: If any movie star could play the lead actor in your play, who would it be?
Nasir: Adam Sandler, because he plays very sassy characters. Or Chris Rock.
Ashleigh: Nicki Minaj. She can sing and she can rap. I’ve also seen her in movies before.
SF: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Shelby: A veterinarian.
Sariah: I want to go into show biz. I want to be a singer or an actor.
Louis: A doctor, a general surgeon.