NYC Teen Playwrights Premiere Plays At LeAp Onstage Event Tonight

By: Jun. 01, 2017
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Students from 10 NYC public schools, whose plays will be published by renowned publisher Samuel French, will showcase their original works and perform them at The Pearl Theatre as part of the acclaimed LEAP OnStage program. LEAP OnStage, created by Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LEAP), immerses 500 public school students, mostly in communities underserved by the arts, in a comprehensive theater program. Since 2006, LEAP OnStage has transformed the lives of more than 6,000 inner-city middle school and high school students by inspiring youth to actively engage in the arts, and introducing career opportunities and support by working Broadway professionals. This year was highlighted by visits from artists associated with some of the hottest Tony winning shows and nominees from recent years.

LEAP OnStage immersed students from 10 schools citywide in a year-long series of intensive classroom workshops, led by LEAP theater teachers, including playwriting, acting, directing and stage managing. Students wrote moving original 10 minute plays-both comedies and dramas-which speak to issues that the students considered personally important. One play from each school was selected by LEAP's Artistic Director of Theater Programs to be developed into a full production to premier at the LEAP OnStage Finale at The Pearl Theater on May 31 and June 1 at 7:30 pm. The Pearl is located at 555 West 42 St., between 10th and 11thAvenues. The theme of the evening is "LEAP OnStage: Reflections on Courage and Confidence."

The 2017 winning student plays, published by Samuel French will be performed by students over TWO NIGHTS:

MAY 31

MY OWN SKIN by Neena Agosto (student playwright), Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, Manhattan

LIFE AFTER DEATH by Nadia Butler (student playwright), Hillcrest High School, Queens

ALMOST PERFECT by Tiyana Mitchell (student playwright), Pace High School, Manhattan

IT WILL COME TO PASS by Michelle Morales (student playwright), Juan Morel Campos High School, Brooklyn

WOMEN'S LIBERATION by Naila Negron (student playwright), Gramercy Arts High School, Manhattan


LONG LIVE MISERY! by Odalis Mendez (student playwright), Bronx Early College Academy for Teaching & Learning, Bronx

THE HELP OF A NEW START by Naja Langdon (student playwright), MS 88 Peter Rouget, Brooklyn

RAINBOW LOVE by Jemdryl De La Cruz Bueno (student playwright), Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, Manhattan

EMOTIONS by Kaitlyn Valentin (student playwright), JHS 383 Philippa Schuyler, Brooklyn

RAINE LOST IN RAINE by Ixza Gutierrez (student playwright), Health Opportunities High School, Bronx

"LEAP OnStage ignites the power of theater in students-to explore the world around them and reflect their impressions. Each year, I am so proud of our students and the tremendous work they produce as playwrights and performers," says Richard Souto, LEAP Executive Director. "These voices need to be heard. We have so much to learn from them."

"LEAP OnStage introduces students to the thrill of theater by immersing them in all aspects of playwriting and performance, and then they are welcomed into the community of artists by real-world working professionals," notes Michael Perreca, Artistic Director of LEAP's Theater Programs.

Now in its 11th year, LEAP OnStage is one of LEAP's signature theater programs. Each year young people are introduced to the immediacy of story-telling, linear thinking and creative expression. Students learn to write a 10-minute play, attend a Broadway or Off-Broadway production, and meet with actors, directors and playwrights from the Broadway community.

This year, students met with Tony nominee John Cariani ("Fiddler on the Roof" and "Something Rotten"), Q Smith (star of this year's Tony-nominated musical "Come From Away"), Tony Chiroldes (original cast member, "In the Heights"), Terry Berliner (director, writer and former resident director of "The Lion King") and Brad Bass (original cast member of "Memphis," as well as cast of "Wicked" and "Jersey Boys"). All celebrity guests addressed being part of the development of new work and the creative process. Many are writers themselves. In fact, John Cariani is also the acclaimed author of "Almost, Maine," now the most performed play in North American high schools, surpassing "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Professional teaching artists for the 2016-2017 LEAP school year include Max Arnaud, David Coonan, Ryan Johnson, Ryan Lee and Marisol-Rosa Shapiro.

The LEAP OnStage Program was made possible by the generous support of the Applebaum Foundation Inc., Richenthal Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Ted Snowdon Foundation, John and Kay Meisch, and Alyce Toonk. This program is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislaturew. LEAP is grateful to its major sponsors of the LEAP OnStage Finale, Macquarie Group Foundation, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Time Warner, Inc., and Goodwin. And, a very special thanks to Samuel French, Inc. for its valued partnership and contribution to the LEAP OnStage Program.

Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LEAP), a 501(c)3 nonprofit, brings student-centered, arts-integrated programs and access to meaningful cultural experiences to schools underserved by the arts. Through the process of artistic inquiry and expression, young people become creative thinkers, confident communicators, and collaborative citizens who are prepared to succeed in school and inspired to be lifelong learners.

Photo credit: LeAp NYC

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