The historic cultural landmark, York Manor, was the perfect backdrop for our young playwrights to see their vision come to life on stage. THE SOPHOMORE PLAYS featured original work from 10 eastside “kid playwrights” between ages 9 and 11. In the dimly lit black box theater, with a bright “Los Angeles”, guests gathered for an evening of dynamic scenes performed by professional adult actors in two acts for a fully-produced live event.
The Playmaking program began in early October, and continued for ten weeks leading up to the culminating performance. For the first seven weeks, student playwrights like Lucas, age 9, learned the fundamentals of dramatic writing during their weekly lessons. On Play Day, a day-long writing retreat, each playwright was paired with an adult to help guide them through the creative writing process. Each scene contained elements of storytelling and an original song.
The tremendous help of 10 actors, 10 director/dramaturges, and the support of contributions from the McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation and the William C. Bannerman Foundation, made this hands-on program possible.
LAMusArt Executive Director Manny Prieto expresses that, through their writing, the “young playwrights can apply what they learned in the classroom, and in turn tell and pen stories that speak to their culture, their community and their own experiences.”
With hummable and unforgettable tunes like “The Lifes” of 9-year-old Amariah Gonzalez’ play Not So Perfect, Not So Ordinary created complex material that became full-length musical numbers. Music Composer, Austin Chanu was surprised with the understanding they had of the ability music had to “push their story forward, develop a character’s maturity”.
“Students develop a lot emotionally and behaviorally (during this process). Experiencing success and taking ownership for what they create gives them so much confidence,” said Tahnee Cadrez, Program Manager.
The ten kid playwrights for THE SOPHOMORE PLAYS included Amariah Gonzalez, Nadia Padilla Rincon, Ethan Samuel Feldser, Lucero Diaz, Rosa Bautista, Cynthia Han, Evelyn Alvarado, and Lucas Mendez, Avi Garcia, Ilan Dubon
The adult dramaturges included Alejandra Cisneros, Alice Tuan, Alex Harris, Jesse Holcomb, Marie-Reine Velez, Nicholas De Los Santos, Katie Lindsay, Karen Louis, Rosie Narasaki and Vella Lovell.
Directors for THE SOPHOMORE PLAYS are Alejandra Cisneros, Karen Louis, Katie Lindsay
Marie-Reine Velez and Nathan Singh.
The adult actors included Alisa De Los Santos, Chae Chaput, Diana Romo Alvarez, Dylan Dawson, Eduardo Fernandez-Baumann, Jesse Holcomb, John Garet Stoker, Mehrnaz Mohammadi, Michael Khachonov, and Marnina Schon.
Music was composed by Austin Chanu. Costumes were designed by Manuel Prieto, lighting was designed by Will Chandler, and sound was designed by Jose Fletes. Prop by Angelene Storey. Stage Manager James Olguin.
Photography by CBGRAPHY