Young Playwrights Project brings local students’ ideas to the stage

Staff Photos by Dave Munch

Ideas sparked in Chautauqua County classrooms five months ago completed the final leg of a long journey last week, arriving on the grounds in the form of 10 plays performed by Syracuse University actors for an audience of area students.

In January, third- and fourth-grade participants in the Young Playwrights Project put pen to paper, creating their own scripts after learning about the elements of a play and the art of playwriting in their classrooms. Two months later in March, the playwrights had a chance to see their work come to life as a group of intergenerational volunteers, including a number of Chautauquans, came together online in a video call with students to perform dramatic readings of the plays. Finally, 10 plays were selected from submissions by playwrights across the county to be performed live at Chautauqua by Syracuse student actors under the direction of lead teaching artist Katie McGerr. The set and costumes were designed by Carmen Martinez.

This year, Young Playwrights Project performances were one of the many activities experienced by county students as they visited the grounds on Experience Chautauqua Field Trips in the weeks leading up to the 2022 Summer Assembly Season

  • Local students watch as Syracuse University actors perform Meet Ron and Bob, by Hewes BOCES Educational Center student Connor Neider during a Young Playwrights Project performance June 16 in Smith Wilkes Hall as part of an Explore Chautauqua field trip.
  • Monica, left, Simpson, center, and Suhail Kumar perform in Meet Ron and Bob.
  • Zaryiah Bradley, playwright of The Shark and the Friendship, chats with Syracuse actors in Smith Wilkes after the performance of her play.
  • Students watch as Syracuse actors perform.
  • Zach Simpson, left, and Monica perform The Shark and the Friendship, by Ring Elementary student Zaryiah Bradley.
  • Maggie Monica, left, and Kamel perform in Mom’s Broken Glasses, by Love Elementary student Caryelys Echevarria.
  • Above left, Sydney Kamel performs in Stacy and Polly, by Clymer Elementary student Madison Hotchkiss.
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