Wednesday, March 03, 2010

This is What Happens When You Put an English Teacher in Charge of a "Science Academy"

This year's (Philadelphia Young Playwrights) festival offerings include two monologues - Johnson's F.A.T., and Torn Between by Aimee Leong, a junior at the Science Leadership Academy - and a full-company play, Milk and Honey, by Emily Acker, a Baldwin School graduate. They were selected from among 1,000 submitted works by students at Philadelphia-area schools, said Glen Knapp, the festival's executive director. Months of refining and workshopping the scripts, followed by weeks of rehearsals, culminates in a series of professional performances at the theater today through Friday.

Leong's Torn Between, performed by Bi Jean Ngo, takes place on a crowded trolley carrying a young Asian woman to the home of her boyfriend, George, who is African American. Along the way, the girl questions whether dating him isn't somehow being disloyal to her family, and whether she should stay with him or exit the relationship like a passenger from the trolley.

In Leong's case, the monologue didn't grow out of a personal experience, but writing it led her to confront and work through some very real and complicated issues. Previously, Leong said, she didn't even keep a journal, let alone publicly discuss issues of race, sexuality, and family loyalty.

"I was scared to 'go there,' in my writing and in the first couple of performances sitting in the audience and hearing the audience's reactions," Leong said. "I didn't know if they'd like it or they'd feel offended. The whole process, it kind of made me look at writing in a totally new perspective."

I look forward to Ken DeRosa's review.

1 comment:

Chris Lehmann said...

I wish I could take any credit... Josh Block, our 10th grade humanities teacher, did the heavy lifting of starting the collaboration with Young Playwrights, and the students did the amazing writing. All I did was say, "Sure!" when I was asked if we could do it.

Quality leadership, I'm sure. ;)