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Students Take Work from Page to Stage at BPT

Young Playwrights’ Project matches alums with local high schools

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Earlier this month, high school students from around the state had their original 10-minute plays brought to life by professional actors and directors at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (BPT). The students, all participants in the Massachusetts Young Playwrights’ Project, learned playwriting in a special workshop with alumni of the Creative Writing Program at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The process included rehearsals, staged readings, and a panel discussion with alumni playwrights, including accomplished writers Melinda Lopez (GRS’00), Ronan Noone (GRS’01), and Joyce Van Dyke (GRS’96).

“No two people wrote the same play, not even close,” says Van Dyke. “They were very different in form, in the kinds of situations and characters they wanted to explore. And that was really exciting.”

Sasha Rivera, a student from Amherst Regional High School, was inspired by the film- noir genre when she wrote her play, The Name Game. “I took some of those cliches that you find in the Maltese Falcon, like Humphrey Bogart’s straight-talking detective, and just ran with them,” she says.

The project began four years ago with six high schools and has since doubled in size; this year, more than 40 actors and 60 students participated in the two-day festival, held on April 9 and 16. “The festival is the most wonderful thing for all of these writers,” says Kate Snodgrass (GRS’90), director of the Young Playwrights’ Project and the BPT artistic director. “It allows them to see that the theater is a collaboration — that they’re not alone in that ivory tower.”

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

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