October 25, 2014
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Teen playwrights spend April vacation crafting theater
TEEN TALENT: Rhode Island Youth Theatre executive director Ann O’Grady served as a mentor and director for the Young PlayRIYTs program. Here she discusses children’s stories with Brian Roque of Warwick, whose play is called “Nursery Crimes.”

While some students are out soaking up the sun on their April school vacation, others are working diligently to create new pieces of theater.

Students from across the state have come together to workshop new plays written by their peers. Rehearsing daily at imPossible Dream in Warwick, the students are editing, tweaking, staging and finalizing their new dramatic endeavors.

The program is coordinated by Rhode Island Youth Theater (RIYT), and is modeled after the process professional playwrights undergo when taking a play from page to stage.

The Young PlayRIYTs program is offered free to teen playwrights, who are matched with an adult theater educator mentor.

Thirteen-year-old Mitchell Cardone, a seventh grader at Quest Montessori school, wrote a play called “The Sherwood Forest.” It’s an adaptation of Robin Hood that tells of the character’s life before he became the famous knave that “stole from the rich and gave to the poor.”

Cardone and two of his peers approached Ann O’Grady, executive director of RIYT, two years ago with the idea to start a program for young students interested in playwriting. Since then, he’s been busy working on “Sherwood Forest,” which is nearly finished.

“It’s a nice experience for young people,” he said about the Young PlayRIYTs program. Cardone’s play, along with a handful of other student-written pieces, will be performed in a showcase at imPossible Dream Friday at 7 p.m.

“It’s a reflection of you up on that stage,” said Cardone, who will play Robin Hood.

Other students will round out the cast, some of whom wrote plays themselves.

“It’s about a refrigerator,” thirteen-year-old Rebecca Malachowksi said of her play. Malachowski’s play personifies the foods in the fridge, basing their personalities on different types of high school students.

“It’s about how they learn how to love each other,” she said.

Warwick brother and sister duo Brian and Courtney Roque each wrote a play for the showcase this week.

Courtney, a 16-year-old junior at LaSalle, wrote a play about a boy who visits Rocky Point.

“His parents met there, but now they’re separating,” she said. As the boy encounters different objects at the park, he brings to life memories from his parents’ past. Courtney, who was born after the park closed, said she learned a lot about Rocky Point through her research.

Brother Brian wrote a play called “Nursery Crimes,” a comedy about a detective who finds a nursery rhyme book in his new home.

“He gets sucked into the book,” he said.

Brian’s play is a work in progress, but he will present five pages of the script at Friday’s showcase.

Twelve-year-old Jaylen Brout of Warwick wrote a play about a boy who befriends a ghost.

“But it’s really just an imaginary friend,” he said.

All of the plays written will come to life on Friday. Directed by O’Grady and fellow theater educator Nancy Hillner, the shows will be acted out entirely by teens and pre-teens.

Cardone, who said he has been acting since he can remember, is excited to see his creation come to life. He’s already brainstorming another play, a la “Noises Off,” where the bulk of the dramatic action takes place behind the scenes of a show-within-a-show.

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts sponsored the program, and O’Grady is thrilled to help facilitate and encourage the students’ creativity.

“Who knows, maybe one of them will go on to become a professional playwright one day,” she said.

For more information on the Young PlayRIYTs program, Friday’s showcase or Rhode Island Youth Theatre, visit www.RIYT.org or email ann@riyt.org.


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