Actors Theatre Stages High School Students' Plays

by ekramer on April 19, 2009

On Sunday and Monday, Actors Theatre of Louisville puts the words of students from the region on stage in a play festival. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The New Voices Play Festival features eight plays by area high school students. The festival is not a stand-alone event, says Lee Look, who coordinates the festival and the playwriting program in the schools that makes it possible.

“Our primary goal is we want students to write,” Look says. “Now, we also happen to have a contest which is a way to celebrate eight to ten of the plays that were created. But we certainly didn’t want one to be the reason for the other. It just became an offshoot.”

The festival features eight plays by students who also participated in the theater’s education program that works in schools throughout the area. This year, the six-year-old program paired teaching artists with nearly 30 teachers for classroom residencies that taught playwriting. Students from Kentucky and Indiana submitted 250 plays to be considered for staging in this week’s festival.

Jeffersonville High School senior Anabelle Horton is has a play in the festival. She says the writing and production process was an eye-opening experience.

“Learning how to write the script helps me understand reading the script and interpreting the script, and plays, and seeing plays, and being able to analyze plays,” Horton says. “And it’s helped more than I could have even imagined.”

This is the third year for the festival. And Look says the theater has reached some milestones this time.

“This year, it’s the most fully realized complete production process that we have,” Looks says. “Each play has a stage manager and a dramaturge and a director. The apprentice acting company works with it. They have technical designers.”

Look says the festival helps showcase works from the program, which focuses on teaching students how to write. He says he also collects data about how the program improves students’ writing, analytical skills and self-esteem.

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