As a way of getting teenagers more involved with theatre, the not-for profit Starfish Theatreworks company came up with a unique dramatic dare: 10 kids (aged 14-18) from New York City public schools were asked to write plays based on the same object -- a picture by photographer Andrea Sperling.
Those ten 10-minute plays will be staged in two performances June 3, at 1 and 3 PM, in Lincoln Center's Clark Studio Theatre.
The show's umbrella title is "The Empty Chair," because the photograph displays a chair in front of a closed door. According to the Shirley Herz press office, the plays range in topic from suicide to abortion to romance to murder.
There are 10 young writers/performers in the Starfish company, and all will take part in reading the two-character plays. A mix of black, Latino and Asian members, the company spends half its year developing craft, the other half preparing for the performance. "The Empty Chair" springs specifically out of Starfish's "Find Your Voice" Teen Training program.
Asked about the company, founder Gail Noppe-Brandon told Playbill On-Line (June 3) she had been teaching playwriting and acting at NYU, when she came across an empty theatre at the Children's Aid Society. "They wanted to know if I'd work with teenagers," she said. "So we were in residence there for many years, but I'm also a professional director and playwright. I wanted to bring my own company together with that troupe, so we formed Starfish Theatreworks, which is not connected to the Children's Aid Society. Now we're in residence at Beacon High School, but the company is open to kids from lots of schools across New York City." -- By David Lefkowitz