In 10th year, Young Playwrights Project brings theater to life for fledgling dramatists

  • Teaching artists Gaby Hornig and Marty Miller perform The Ice Cream War, by Samuel Johnston of C.C. Ring Elementary, during a Young Playwrights Project performance on June 13 in Smith Wilkes Hall. EMILEE ARNOLD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Chautauqua Lake Elementary School fourth-grade student Keliah Langhorne stretches toward the sky after a performance by teaching artists. EMILEE ARNOLD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Teaching artists, under the direction of Andrew Barbato, perform a play by Bailey Burnett, another student at Chautauqua Lake, titled Chaos with the Firetruck. EMILEE ARNOLD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Teaching artists perform The Rescue, written by Chautauqua Lake Elementary student Connor Hitchcock. EMILEE ARNOLD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Clymer Central School third-grader Rachael White congratulates classmate Trinity Phelps after a performance of Phelps’ play The Trash Invasion. EMILEE ARNOLD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Photos by Emilee Arnold

Ten years ago, a program launched at Chautauqua with the goal of bringing the art of playwriting into local schools, integrating theater and English Language Arts learning. In the years that followed, thousands of students have put pen to paper and brought the characters in their imaginations to life in their very own plays.

This year, over 400 students from seven participating schools spent February writing plays across Chautauqua County. Students learned the elements of a play and the art of playwriting from a team of professional teaching artists before writing their scripts. In March, their plays were brought to life in their own classrooms with the help of Chautauqua Institution staff and community volunteer play readers. 

A curated selection of 11 plays were chosen to be performed live at Chautauqua by actors under the leadership of Alexandra Nader, lead teaching artist and director of plays. The performances were offered as one of the experiences educators and their students could attend as a part of the Explore CHQ Field Trips.

The Young Playwrights Project is supported by the Court Family Endowment, Elaine and Erroll Davis, and gifts to the Chautauqua Fund.


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