Playwrights Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to introducing young people to live theatre, is making news these days. In collaboration with the Los Angeles Museum of Television and Radio, Playwrights Project is working with 630 middle school students to develop original radio plays. Professionals help these seventh and eighth graders to write scripts, do sound effects and research the history of radio drama in the U.S.
Thanks to popular demand, Playwrights Project is also presenting its second touring production of Napkins and a Pen, a play by 17-year-old Nick Hamlin which was originally developed in PR's "Plays By Young Writers '96" Festival. It tells the amusing and poignant story of the friendship between a hearing boy and a deaf girl.
Last year's tour of the play was seen by more than 7,000 students in 22 schools in San Diego and Los Angeles counties. The present tour, which will conclude in mid-March, has been hailed by students and teachers alike.
"I thought the play was funny and thoughtful," said one eighth-grader. "It really touched my heart. I think now there are probably other plays I would like to see."
"The play was absolutely fantastic. The students were able to understand clearly the importance of acceptance, friendship and practicing unbiased views in everyday life," said a high school teacher. "The students, who are predominately minority, understand bias and discrimination due to race -- they were enlightened that the same could be true for the deaf." Playwrights Project is headed by Deborah Salzer. Much of the organization's work is done in classrooms where 10-session "Write On" playwriting workshops are conducted, mostly with students who have never been exposed to live theatre. Visiting artists work with the students to write short plays which are later given staged readings by professional actors.
Playwrights Project is at 450 B St., San Diego. For information, call (619) 239-8222 or visit www.playwrightsproject.com.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent