Growing Theater

Juliana had a minor virus the third week of third grade and missed two days of school. Open house fell on one of those nights so she wasn’t with us when her teacher told me that Juliana would be missing the introduction to Growing Theater. He said that this program was practically made for her with her love of play writing.

Growing Theatre is a collaboration between the drama department at Carnegie Mellon University and Juliana’s school. Each year, 20 third graders have the opportunity to participate in GT and work through the creative process to write plays and learn about public speaking. I know that a lot of people love Fridays, but Juliana really loved Fridays this year. I have never seen a child so angry about school being closed or delayed when it meant that Juliana would miss GT. Every Friday morning the student mentors from CMU came to Juliana’s school and worked with their group of third graders.

Juliana started writing short stories and plays in second grade including two plays that she produced with her friends at school. She wrote the plays, enlisted performers amongst her friends, spent recess running lines with the actors, and with the support of her teacher she produced the plays with an audience of the Kindergarten and Third grade classes.

Juliana carries a folder of blank paper where she jots down stories and themes and ideas for plays. She wants to write and produce plays; she also wants to be a fashion designer and a math major. This summer one of her camp weeks will be spent collaborating on ideas for and producing short films.

In GT this year, the students worked in groups with their assigned mentors and learned about the creative process of play writing. They started with an idea and turned it into a story; developed characters and wrote the dialogue; and they learned the basics of public speaking.

Last Friday there was a reading for the 6 plays that were completed this year. The play that Juliana wrote with her group is called: The Missing Stolen Story. The characters in the story are: Sabrileximar (read by Juliana), Mr. and Mrs. Snickerdoodle, a police officer and football player Ryan Clark. The mentors for the group read the lines for the students who were not at the performance. I knew nothing about the play prior to hearing the students read.

After each group finished their reading, they were asked to comment on what the learned in GT, here are Juliana’s comments about GT.

“You put all your ideas down and make them into a play. It’s not always easy. Sometimes you can get stuck on details even if you think you know what’s going to happen.”

“It was hard to work with the mentors because we can’t do everything we want to do. You have to listen to them and they keep us on track. They taught us how to behave in front of an audience. Sometimes we have to work with the ideas they bring in while we were making the play.”

Juliana with one of her friends from her group and with her mentors.

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The reading of the short play – The Missing Stolen Story

1 comment to Growing Theater

  • Julie Oldach

    Is that my great granddaughter, my namesake. I am so proud of her, chip off the old, old block…….not really, I was a bit of a shy wallflower! She’s a JOY! Grama Julie