New York City teens will debut their published plays as part of the Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LEAP).
Students from 10 citywide schools will soon perform their original works at The Pearl Theatre in Midtown Manhattan. Throughout the year these students were taught a series of intensive classroom workshops, led by LEAP theater teachers, including playwriting, acting, directing and stage managing.
The students wrote original comedies and dramas in the form of 10-minute plays. They were encouraged to explore subjects that were important to them personally. One play from each school was selected by Michael Perreca, artistic director of LEAP's Theater Programs, to be developed into a full production. These plays will premier at the LEAP OnStage Finale at The Pearl Theater on May 31 and June 1 at 7:30pm. The selected plays will also be published by renowned theater publisher, Samuel French, according to a recent press release by LEAP.
“LEAP OnStage ignites the power of theater in students—to explore the world around them and reflect their impressions. Each year, I am so proud of our students and the tremendous work they produce as playwrights and performers,” said Richard Souto, LEAP executive director, in the press release. “These voices need to be heard. We have so much to learn from them.”
The 2017 winning student plays, which will be performed by students at The Pearl Theater are as follows.
Performed May 31:
- My Own Skin by Neena Agosto (student playwright), Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, Manhattan
- Life After Death by Nadia Butler (student playwright), Hillcrest High School, Queens
- Almost Perfect by Tiyana Mitchell (student playwright), Pace High School, Manhattan
- It Will Come To Pass by Michelle Morales (student playwright), Juan Morel Campos High School, Brooklyn
- Women's Liberation by Naila Negron (student playwright), Gramercy Arts High School, Manhattan
Performed June 1:
- Long LIve Misery! by Odalis Mendez (student playwright), Bronx Early College Academy for Teaching & Learning, Bronx
- The Help Of A New Start by Naja Langdon (student playwright), M.S. 88 Peter Rouget, Brooklyn
- Rainbow Love by Jemdryl De La Cruz Bueno (student playwright), Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, Manhattan
- Emotions by Kaitlyn Valentin (student playwright), J.H.S. 383 Philippa Schuyler, Brooklyn
- Raine Lost In Raine by Ixza Gutierrez (student playwright), Health Opportunities High School, Bronx
The performances will be part of LEAP OnStage, in which 500 public school students take part in an immersive theater program. The program has been in existence since 2006 and has since served over 6,000 inner-city middle school and high school students. It strives to inspire youth to actively engage in the arts, and introduces them to career opportunities and support by working Broadway professionals.
Through the LEAP program, students have had the opportunity to meet with Tony nominee John Cariani (Fiddler on the Roof and Something Rotten), Q Smith (star of this year's Tony-nominated musical Come From Away), Tony Chiroldes (original cast member of In the Heights), Terry Berliner (director, writer, and former resident director of The Lion King), and Brad Bass (original cast member of Memphis, as well as cast of Wicked and Jersey Boys).
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Main image: Students from the LEAP OnStage program