Children can learn the art of playwriting in Kent

By Kelly Maile | staff writer Published:

Children ages 6 to 17 can enroll in the New World Children's Theatre Playwriting Workshop where they will create, write and rehearse a play and then perform on a professional stage. The only requirement is an active imagination.

Standing Rock Cultural Arts and program Director Jeff Ingram said children learn story telling elements, character development, teamwork and problem solving skills in the five-month workshop.

"There are conflicts and decisions that have to be made when you have a play on paper and you have to bring it to the stage," Ingram said. "In terms of childhood development, you are able to nurture a kid's creativity to create leaders. They won't look to people to tell them what to do. They will realize they have choices to make and that they have control in their lives."

Under the guidance of Ingram, children in the workshop will be responsible for everything from creating the play's plot to painting props and sets.

All materials in the construction of the sets and props are recyclable.

"For one, we have limited resources," Ingram said. "But beyond that, when you're a kid a cardboard box can be anything from a space ship to a time machines. The kids can transform that cardboard box into anything that's fun to look at on stage. It also reminds the kids of what trash is. If they see something around the house that would normally be thrown in the trash, like a plastic milk jug, they can bring that and make something out of it to become part of the play."

Ingram has been director of the workshop since 1993.

"I like the imagination that the kids present," Ingram said. "And I like their intuition as far as human nature goes. It always has a sense of humor to it and I like the fact that they're always able to look at humans in a funny way. The freedom of their stories are not restricted by anything. I've just grown to like working with those kids."

Brian Peshek, a resident of Kent, has enrolled his two daughters, Rosa, 11, and Emma, 15, in the program since 2004.

"We've been doing it so long it's a part of our yearly traditions," Peshek said. "A lot of folks get involved in sports teams or soccer. We do this. We start up in January and it's snowing and by the time production happens the flowers are bloomed."

Peshek said he sees changes and growth in both of his daughters since enrolling them in the workshop.

"It's been an opportunity for them to flourish," Peshek said. " Rosa used to be very shy. She used to just act in front of the mirror at home and be terrified in public. She really takes to the stage now and it's been a great opportunity for her."

The workshop will take place on North Water Street Gallery, 257 N. Water St., in Kent on Saturday between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Workshop will culminate in 3 performances between May 17 and 29 at the African Community Theatre, Terrace Drive in Oscar Ritchie Hall on KSU's Main Campus.

Classes meet twice a week to write the play from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The cost is $200. Arrangements can be made for low-income families and scholarships are available.

To learn more or to sign-up, contact Jeff Ingram at 330-673-4970 or info@standingrock.net.

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