Playmaking 2015 – Round Two!
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

-- The New York Times

Playmaking 2015 – Round Two!

In this week’s blog post, Playmaking teacher Susan Willerman explains her process with the students, and makes us all wish we were still in middle school.


DSC04638The first day of Playmaking is always a special day! We ask the kids why they think people write plays. This time around, answers we got: to entertain people, to express yourself, to find strengths and weaknesses, to have fun, to make people laugh and, sometimes, to make money. We ask what we use when we write a play: imagination, knowledge, experience, feelings, and we let them know to use the 5 senses.

After a few warm-up games, the kids choose an animal they would like to spend time
with for the weeks to come. They embody the animal and go through a typical day:
waking up, searching for food, enemy coming, rainstorm, sun coming out, back to sleep. They write their first character profile which includes the animal’s greatest fear and wish.

Josefa created Hunter, an 18 year old wolf, whose wish is to explore the outside habitat, fear is losing his family, and his habitat a dark and moist cave where a droplet of water can be heard, that smells damp. Johnny invented a killer whale named Jeff who wants to fly and who fears being lost at sea.

After the students write their character profiles, we interview them, and that is their first experience of becoming their character in front of us as the audience. They also create characters of inanimate objects, something from nature, and finally human beings. Kelly created Ashton, a guitar who wants to be moved all around the world and an ocean wave named Emily who wants to become a wave of 7 feet and who is afraid of pollution.

DSC04636They write a story that takes place between the animal and inanimate object who each have their want and get into a conflict with each other, take action and change. This is a way to understand the basics of playwriting. And the listeners are asked to say what has moved them or popped out about each other’s work.

This group has loved to write; Salwa wrote a 4 page story about Teal, a heart chain
necklace, and a cat named Boca who had both been lost and forgotten. We have 7 new plays. 3 of the writers have been in Playmaking before, Nicole and Jeremy are writing their second plays and Joel his third!

We start with warm-up theatre games every day and when the time comes for them
to start their plays, they are ready! When this group is writing, you can barely hear
breathing in the room, just the sound of the pencils on the paper as they create their
plays. This group has not been stuck, has not had writer’s block and are eager to share their work at the end of every writing day. Gina Femia, the other playmaking teacher, and I have loved reading their work out loud. And this lovely group of young people is enthusiastic and supportive about each other’s work.

See what happens between Hunter the wolf and Claire, a young woman on a secret
mission! Emily the wave and Ashton the guitar have an adventure of their own; Emma, who wants her own restaurant meets up with Boca the cat who keeps getting
abandoned by its owners; and Bradley, a soldier on a mission meets Jeff, the killer
whale who may or may not help him.

You won’t find any more original, funny or touching plays in New York City and these
are free! Appropriate for all ages. See you on Monday, March 30, at IS 10 at 6:00 pm in the auditorium.

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