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Teen Playwriting Workshop Builds Confidence, Bonds

By: Marcey Evans

Palooza Teens Workshop in Progress

Teens attending the Playwriting Palooza, a five-week series of workshops on playwriting, were able to exercise their imaginations, while creating characters and building storylines.

Each Wednesday during the month of February, a lively group gathered at the Memphis Public Library and Information Center in room L-56 to learn the craft of storytelling. Volunteer facilitators Christopher Tracy and Nathan Bishop, both of Write Memphis, taught the teens how to organize their writing and how to introduce a problem, conflict, and resolution.

"Characters need personality and life," Christopher told teen listeners. "Give actors something to grasp on to and become. Build relationships with characters and establish grounds for conflict," he further advised.

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The fourth workshop of the series was held on February 27, 2013, also at the Central Library. Thirteen-year-old Ariyan Johnson has attended all sessions so far and said they have exceeded her expectations. "I thought it would be a little boring," she admitted. "But it was nothing like that. In the workshops, we're free to express ourselves. The classes have helped me to understand how to write and how to organize my writing. It has made me feel very good about myself and very confident," she added.

The plot thickened as teens read scripts and became the characters they created. Ariyan said she attributes this active involvement to everyone's "active imaginations" and the camaraderie the teens have established over time. "You don't have to be afraid to be yourself in this class," she said.

Humanities librarian Ashley Roach helped to organize the event. She said the best part has been seeing teens interact and engage in the theatre process. "It has been an excellent place for teens to find this form of expression (playwriting). In class, they have fun and find support from other teens and adults," Roach said. "We've noticed that the teens are working on their projects in their free time too," she noted, highlighting participants' increasing interest.

The saga will continue on Wednesday, March 3, 2013, the final workshop of Playwriting Palooza, but participants say they hope it's not the last. "We want the program extended with more days and more hours," Ariyan said, speaking for the group.

For more information on teen activities offered at any Library branch, visit www.memphislibrary.org and view the Calendar of Events.