2021 Symposium: Everyone's a Playwright

Home  Session Descriptions
Schedule Keynote

AATE 2020 Everyone's A Playwright Symposium

February 6 & 7, 2021


Session Block 1 - Session Block 2 - Session Block 3 - Session Block 4 

Session Recordings

Session Block 1

Saturday, February 6th, 2-3:15 pm (EST)

STAYING POWER: A Practical Guide to Creating Artistic Legacy (Despite Online Performance and Teaching)

Presenter: Adrianna Mateo

Presented by Adrianna Mateo (www.adriannamateo.com), solo violinist, singer-songwriter, and actress:"Artistic Legacy" is a gift: a lasting artistic inheritance for present and future generations to explore, enjoy, and learn from. All artists, scholars, and educators are actively engaged in creating an artistic legacy: some craft it purposefully and consciously, aiming for "Staying Power," while others create it as if by accident, often burning out in the process. How do we consciously craft a lasting artistic legacy despite the limitations of online performance and teaching? In this hybrid performance, case study, and practical career coaching session, Adrianna Mateo will guide participants through a series of questions, exercises, and practical approaches that will benefit artists of all levels get to THEIR next level. Topics covered include:1) Artistic Values: Are your artistic values inherited or individual? 2) Art As Teaching: Writing Through The Trauma of COVID-19 and social upheaval 3) Practical Self-Care: Mental health and wellness for artists and educators 4) Time management: Efficiency and Pacing for Multi-Talented Artists 5) Performance and Teaching Through the Digital Chasm (Music, Songwriting, Triple Threat Artistry, Sensitive Topics) 6) Incorporating Social Justice Into Your Art and TeachingThis presentation will end with a Q&A session. Submit questions in advance by direct messaging Adrianna Mateo on Instagram at @adriannamateo.


A Little Theatre Based Self-care for Pandemic Fatigued Teachers

Presenters: Nicola Olsen

Take a moment for yourself in this arts-based self-care session that invites everyone to boost resilience, empathy, and belonging by engaging in low stakes theatre-based activities and robust discussion to enhance personal well-being.  Arts participation helps manage grief, pain, and stress and enhances positive emotions and resilience.  This session invites everyone to take some time for themselves to engage in theatre-based self-care while investigating arts and health research.


Writing with a Recipe: The Bake-Off Play in the Classroom

Presenters: Christen Cromwell & Aladrian C. Wetzel

Providing students the opportunity to write, direct, and act in plays where they can see themselves will keep them hooked as theatre artists for the long haul. Save money in your theater budget by commissioning plays from your students that follow a certain recipe. Inspired by Paula Vogel's Bake-Off,  Baltimore's Two Strikes Theatre Collective (TSTC) produced the Brown Sugar Bake-Off: A Virtual Black Womxn Play Festival in October 2020. Christen N. Cromwell and Aladrian C. Wetzel of TSTC will discuss the creative benefits of assigning your students plot and character elements to include in their plays. The process also allows for the mentoring of new and inexperienced playwrights, encouraging them to write about the experiences unique to their culture and generation.


Collective Stories: Trauma-Informed Drama Therapy with Immigrant Students

Presenters: Heidi Landis

Immigrant students often deal with a great deal of trauma not only from home country challenges, but also with immigration and resettlement issues. Informed by the presenter's current work with immigrant and refugee students in a high school setting, this highly experiential workshop will allow Participants to experience new creative and active ways to enter into the themes of life stories and imagine possibilities for new narratives for students of all ages and abilities. Through trauma informed drama therapy and sociodrama, participants will explore and learn how to help students, in action, honor the stories that lie within and move toward the possibilities of stories not yet created.

Session Block 2

Saturday, February 6th, 3:45-5 pm (EDT)

Original 10 Minute Car Play Festival with diverse students reflecting on their community - NEA Art Works project

Presenters: Doug Kaback & Nora Ross

In 2017, Doug Kaback and Nora Ross, Executive Director of the non-profit Valley Cultural Center (VCC), received an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to bring together members of the diverse community of Canoga Park, CA, to write and produce 10 minute plays all set and performed inside cars.  Together with local partners from Main Street Canoga Park, West Valley Playhouse, Full Vision Arts Foundation, Galpin Motors, City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield's office, the Los Angeles Police Department Topanga Station, and (CSUN) California State University Northridge's Neighborhood Partners in Action, VCC served as executive producer for a multidisciplinary arts experiment (theatre, film, visual art, music) that told the ever-evolving story of the new Canoga Park a 21st century American community in perpetual transition.  Over the course of four months, Kaback led playwriting workshops at the Boys & Girls Club, a continuation high school gang prevention program, Canoga Park High School, an older adult community center, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Lodge in Canoga Park, and the West Valley Playhouse.  More than 30 writers, ages 12-85, submitted scripts for production consideration.  Each received a public stage reading. Ten plays were selected for production in March 2018.  The plays, professionally directed and performed, occurred during the day in an alley, inside cars with 2-3 audience members sitting in passenger seats next to the actors.  Every ten minutes a car horn sounded, and the audience members were ushered to a new car to experience another play in this immersive context.  In the evening, the performance moved inside the Playhouse for a more traditional presentation.  http://csunshinetoday.csun.edu/arts-and-culture/arts-collaboration-to-spotlight-community-of-canoga-park/ A short film was created: http://fullvision.nationbuilder.com/full_vision_s_creative_gumbo_canoga_park_car_playsAdditionally, the Canoga Park Improvement Association's Green Alley Beautification initiative organized original artwork to provide public art murals installed in the alley.  The culminating event was a community celebration.


Playwrights for Change: Creating a Playwriting Workshop for BIPOC Youth

Presenters: Ramón Esquivel & Johamy Morales

In Summer 2020, the Seattle Children's Theatre Drama School created a virtual playwriting workshop called, "Stand Up: Playwrights for Change," taught by playwright Ramon Esquivel. It was specifically designed to engage middle and high school students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. In this workshop, Ramon Esquivel will share his curriculum, writing exercises, and reading list of work by other BIPOC playwrights. Johamy Morales, Director of Education at Seattle Children's Theatre, will share her department's inspiration, strategies, logistics, and challenges of creating, promoting, and enrolling students in this kind of targeted writing workshop. Participants will outline and share their own ideas for theatre workshops that center BIPOC youth in their local communities, receive feedback from presenters, and discuss strategies for identifying and overcoming organizational obstacles for this kind of inclusive arts education.


(inter)Generations: Playwriting and Collaborative Storytelling with Students and Older Adults

Presenters: Heather Beasley and Josh Hartwell

The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (BETC) created a new theatre education program, (inter)Generations, in 2020. It was designed with the goals of reducing social isolation and loneliness in the two age groups most likely to face these problems: adolescents and older adults ages 50+. The program aims to accomplish these goals through creating opportunities for social connection, theater education, artistic collaboration, and creative self-expression. It was offered as a synchronous online class in Fall 2020, and will be offered again in Spring 2021. In this workshop, teaching artists Heather Beasley and Josh Hartwell will describe program and lesson design, take participants through short, helpful writing exercises from the class, and facilitate group conversation about shaping intergenerational communities through playwriting.


Creating Plays through Place and Pastiche: An Interdisciplinary Sample Lesson

Presenters: Saya Jenks

This session will provide participants with high school-level sample playwrighting lesson that teaches students to write rich, evocative description of a play's setting. This lesson asks students to consider how vividly rendered scenic descriptions can inspire, or even necessitate, the action that will transpire. We will ask, what kinds of characters might appear in this setting? What kinds of dramatically compelling conflicts might occur here? During the COVID pandemic, many students' relationship with their environment has dramatically shifted. This lesson allows students to see their environments with fresh eyes, as potential inspiration for a play. This lesson is easily adaptable to both online and in-person instruction; considering the current moment, we will focus on how to make this lesson compelling virtually. Participants in this session will have a chance to experience the main exercise of the lesson as their students would. This lesson offers interdisciplinary opportunities and can be taught as a one-off lesson or as part of a larger unit. The session host taught this lesson as part of a core 11th grade American Literature class in conjunction with an American History course in a unit about early America. Students will practice English literature skills such as close reading, writing pastiche, analyzing how an author's choices within a text result in various effects, and craft compelling visual imagery during this lesson.

Session Block 3

Sunday, February 7th, 2-3:15 pm (EST)

Writing and Producing New Works in the Virtual Classroom

Presenters: Keith McGill & Hallie Dizdarevic

A panel of CTC students and staff will discuss successes, challenges, and discoveries during their pivot from in-person playwriting classes to teaching playwriting virtually.  Panelists will also discuss the production of the 2021 Young Playwrights Festival which was adapted to include both Live Virtual Theatre pieces performed on Zoom as well as pre-recorded, COVID-safe onsite performances. Excerpts of those performances will be shared during the session.  In addition to discussion and Q&A, Keith and Hallie will provide writing prompts, sample activities, and exercises, as well as insights on preparing lesson plans to teach playwriting online.

Student Voices and Authentic Storytelling

Presenters: Donovan T. Smalls

In this session, educators will get a glimpse into what it takes to get students in front of the class and the power of words. It is all about creating a world that students feel comfortable to express themselves and live out the true meaning of who they are. Students not only get to express themselves through their writing but they get to tell their own story. They are the narrators of their own journeys in life. 

The Monologue Project: Storytelling for Women of the African Diaspora

Presenters: Teresa Coleman Wash, Gab Cody, France-Luce Benson, & Amy Evans

Join The Monologue Project (TMP) co-organizers Teresa Coleman-Wash and Gab Cody as they discuss their efforts to connect writers and students through an online database of audition-length monologues. Ms. Wash and Ms. Cody will be joined by contributing writers (TO BE DETERMINED/ANNOUNCED -- asap). Alumni Theatre Company student performers will share a selection of monologues throughout the panel. If you are interested in serving a diverse student-body and centering the voices of your student writers, this panel will jumpstart your process, and inspire you to continue your work. Get to know The Monologue Project and understand its use in your practice.

The Monologue Project is an online resource featuring 30+ original monologues from nationally recognized playwrights. TMP aims to increase the number of audition-length monologues for Women of the African Diaspora and celebrate their impact on theater and the world. We join in solidarity with the woman-driven activism of movements like Black Lives Matter, acknowledging the essential role of black women in America. We also acknowledge those women who have already contributed to this canon and who have paved the way for other writers and actors. Available here: https://bishopartstheatre.org/the-monologue-project/

Session Block 4

Sunday, February 7th, 3:45-5 pm (EST)

Devising During Covid: Youth-Led Playwrighting To Process The Pandemic

Presenters: Aimee Reid, Terise Stevens, & Jackie Cierniak

Take a moment for yourself in this arts-based self-care session that invites everyone to boost resilience, empathy, and belonging by engaging in low stakes theatre-based activities and robust discussion to enhance personal well-being.  Arts participation helps manage grief, pain, and stress and enhances positive emotions and resilience.  This session invites everyone to take some time for themselves to engage in theatre-based self-care while investigating arts and health research.


Teaching Playwriting Virtually to Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Presenters: Hayley Sherwood & Aliza Greenberg

As summer 2020 stretched onwards, CO/LAB Theater Group, an organization based in New York City that provides a creative and social outlet for individuals with developmental disabilities through theater arts classes and performances, expanded the ways it could engage its community of artists over Zoom. Typically, classes focus on the devising process, prioritizing improvisation, movement, and song. With in-person performance work off the table, CO/LAB devised a virtual playwriting class to allow space for actors to either create completely new projects or further in-progress works. This session will take participants through the process implemented in the program, from the introduction to playwriting in the first class to the online live reading of the plays created. Join the Teaching Artists, the Program Manager, and a CO/LAB participant from our first playwriting program to learn lesson planning techniques, the strategies employed to encourage independent work, and the ways in which we came together for a culminating event.


From Musical to Zoomical: Adapting Original Middle Grade Theater for a Virtual World

Presenters: Hannah Kloepfer

What is a zoomical anyway? Learn how middle school theatre students from across the globe came together to workshop original, age-appropriate material with a team of Broadway professionals. Pitch-In is a middle grade, one-act musical written by Hannah Kloepfer, Taylor Louderman, and Nat Zegree that saw a shift from in-person to online in 2020. By working with over 200 students this year, the team learned that by exploring age-appropriate material, the students are able to be themselves, offer thoughtful changes, and engage with the material in an authentic manner. This workshop involves an overview of the process of creating a professional workshop and table read environment virtually-- from auditions + self-tapes to improvisation + Q&A and using Zoom tech and audio to build the world online. We will explore ways to engage students, assign backstage responsibilities, and nurture trial and error as it relates to making bold choices both as performers and writers. This workshop will also examine how to use social media to facilitate cast-bonding from afar, create virtual rehearsal rooms, and inspire creative marketing for the material and the performance itself.

2021 Partners & Sponsors   

Copyright © 2021 AMERICAN ALLIANCE FOR THEATRE AND EDUCATION | 718 7th St NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20001| PH: (202) 909-1194 | [email protected]