Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

MCT and Nova High School

Monday, January 07, 2013

by Laura Loving, MCT Guest Educator

During the fall of 2012, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre collaborated with Nova High School (MPS Partner School) to introduce drama students to live theatre, prompting them to write and perform their own work in class. The project gained momentum with community support and the vision of C. Michael Wright, the artistic director of the theatre, who wants to hear from and nurture talent within the Milwaukee community. The Nova students attended two performances: BROKEN AND ENTERED and COLLECTED STORIES and then reflected on the plays in class with a community educator from the theater. As the young people explored the dimensions of conflict and characterization, they practiced writing monologues and dialogues that reflected their own stories.

Me (entering the room):
Man, I hate when they leave my room smelling like this.
I leave for two days
and my mama just let them use my room
with no type of consent,
feet stink, breath stink, and they be musty.
Got my room smellin' like a dog fight…I swear I hate my cousins.

Whether describing a bedroom redolent with the leftover smells of interlopers (as in the lines above) or writing a terse dialogue about broken promises or borrowed money, the students brought to life collected stories of their own lives that are broken and entered daily. One young woman wrote an impassioned monologue about the aftermath of rape. Some tapped out text messages that turned into terse dialogues. Feisty and proud, angry or conciliatory, the short pieces that the students wrote contained the seeds of playwriting, using authentic conflict and nascent characterization from their own experiences. The potential for greater involvement is certainly present at Nova and throughout the Milwaukee community.

What will be the next spark to illuminate the minds of the youth and other artists in Milwaukee? Will you be a part of it?

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