The Write-A-Play Program at FST by Allison Opal

More about my son's experience and how to volunteer as a Play Reader for this outstanding program.

dscn0318editedThank you to all who attended January’s evening event! I was ecstatic to see so many of you brave the cold to learn about Florida Studio Theatre’s fabulous Write-A-Play program.   It was a fun evening for all. For more photos click here.
 

For those who could not attend, the Write-A-Play program is an arts-in-education initiative started by FST. The program introduces professional theatre to students, and gives them the skills and motivation to create original plays. Now in its twenty-fifth year, the Write-A-Play program reaches over 50,000 students annually.  The program is international in scope, as Sarasota’s sister cities in Russia, Israel, and Scotland, participate. The Write-A-Play year culminates with the Young Playwrights Festival in May featuring the production of the winning plays in the Under 6 (sixth grade and under) and 7-Up (seventh through twelfth grade) categories. The festival is a celebration of creativity, with winners being awarded medals and certificates honoring their achievement.  If you are interested in being a reader for the thousands of plays submitted each year for the festival, please contact the Young Playwrights Festival Coordinator Adam Ratner at aratner@floridastudiotheatre.org or 941-366-9797 ext. 223 before February 17th . The READ-A-THON takes place on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016, in the Bowne’s Lab Theatre from 11:30am to 1pm. Lunch is provided to all participating readers from 1pm to 2pm.

Why am I so passionate about the Write-A-Play program? The answer is obvious for those who came to our event at FST-- my son.  When I moved to Sarasota almost seven years ago, my son was exposed to this program.  One day he came home from first grade and told me he was writing a play.  Thus began my relationship with FST.  My son, it turns out, has a knack for writing. As a direct result of Write-A-Play, my son has had his work produced not only here in Florida by FST, but nationally, and internationally as well.  He is a three time winner of The Blank Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival in Hollywood, California, and has won numerous other festivals. Two of his wins, festivals in Morgantown, WV, and in Leeds, England, were adult competitions. The British winning performance was streamed live on the internet last year. My son has also been featured in newspaper articles, documentaries, and even locally on TV. A few years ago, the Annette Scherman show ‘Community’ (filmed in Sarasota) had an episode highlighting the Write-A-Play program. Three YPF winners, including my son, were interviewed by the talk show host. Where all this will take my son, I have no idea.  I do think, however, that his writing talent might not have been discovered so early had he not been challenged to write a play by this amazing arts initiative.

Write-A-Play is a wonderful resource helping students discover, and harness, the imagination and creativity they have inside, with incredible results. It is for this reason I wanted to share the program with our members who may not currently have children in the school system. Attendees at our event saw performances of winning plays from both the Under 6, and 7-Up, Write-A-Play categories.  One of the plays performed was “The Parting” written by my son when he was twelve.  If you are interested in seeing the award winning “Coffee Talk”, the first play FST produced written by my son, please click on this a clip from a local TEDx event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq7-ZFZpdBc

Thanks again for your interest and enthusiasm.