Kromrey eighth-grader Celeste Li's play was one of two to be featured in Children's Theater of Madison's Young Playwrights Festival on May 1.
Li's play, American Born, features two college freshmen who met in a dorm as roommates, one is from China and the other an American-Chinese born student. The Chinese-born student is taken back when he introduces himself to his new roommate in Chinese and discovers he doesn't understand the language. He is baffled. Shouldn't he understand his own language? So the American-born Chinese student recalls and shares a series of memories in which he had been made fun of by other students for being Chinese while growing up. These memories include ones such as his classmates making fun of his father for having an accent and of kids making fun of Chinese people for the shape of their eyes. The Chinese-born student encourages his new roommate by telling him it is not too late to embrace his culture and to feel proud of who he is.
"Celeste's play stood out because it addresses the heartbreaking consequences of racism and its impact on kids growing up,'' Kromrey literacy teacher Jean Holman said. "Her play features an important message of being proud of who you are but also respecting others for their language and cultural identity. The manner in which the actors brought Celeste's play to life at the Playwriting Festival was truly poignant and impactful. Celeste is a very talented writer.''
With help from Advanced Learning Teacher Ruth Frawley, students in Holman's and Marah Larsen's literacy sections partnered with CTM and the Young Playwrights for Change playwriting program again this year. This year's theme for the playwriting competition was Discovering the Truth About Ourselves and Others. The product includes the writing of a one-act play, about 10 minutes in length.
Please visit the Young Playwrights for Change website to learn more.
While students in the 8th-grade literacy sections had an opportunity to co-write plays with partners or to write plays individually, students who chose to write independently were encouraged to enter the competition, Holman said. A panel of teachers at Kromrey first selected the plays they felt best exemplified this year's theme. These students were invited to participate in a Playwriting Workshop with CTM professionals in December. At this workshop, students had an opportunity to read each other's plays aloud and seek feedback from CTM staff. They then were encouraged to make revisions before the Playwright's for Change competition submission deadline in January.
More than 100 submissions were received this year. The other finalist was Ann Devitt from O'Keeffe Middle School in the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Festival also featured seven other plays written by Madison-area high school students.
Kromrey students who received honorable mention recognition for their one-act plays at the Playwriting Festival included Balia Becker, Caitlin Cason, Reilly Wagner, and London Williams.
The following eighth-grade playwrights were selected to participate in the CTM Workshop in November: Aubrin Allison, Vera Akimova, Maddie Ancheta, Jessica Baer, Maggie Bailey, Gus Balasubramaniam, Baila Becker, Amanda Beckman, Maya Benton, Sydney Blindt, Caitlin Carson, Anika Cermak, Sneha Chandrashekar, Natalie Charles, Jahnn Feliciano Santiago, Arely Galan, Varsha Gouraram, Peyton Howardsmith, Riley Howardsmith, Eve Kaegebein, Kaitlyn Ko, Daniel Kim, Jordan LaScala, Jenni Lopez, Lizzy Lahaie, Lauren Li, Celeste Li, Hannah Nygard, Brock Paulisse, Sam Prestigiacomo, Claire Shin, Jasmine Shoates, Reilly Wagner, London Williams, and Chris Yang.