A report from the classroom at P.S.123!

This week at Big Green Theater, students are assigned an image to use as inspiration for their plays and work on some finer points of character development in their playwriting. The plays on this particular Wednesday featured global warming, melting ice caps, tsunamis, famine, UFO’s and aliens, mixed in with Star Wars references, BMX bikes, several eco-raps complete with beat boxing and lots of  “OMG.”

By now the 5th graders have a strong handle on the concept of eco-playwriting and automatically integrate themes of conservation and environmental responsibility into their stories. Sometimes the ideas they come up with to solve the environmental problems in the play sound like a good idea for real life. In one group’s play, the characters decide to build a damn to protect their island from the encroaching trash dump floating in the ocean off their shores.

“We should put a water purification machine on the dam.”

“Yeah like a big  … a big filter!”

“Is that possible in the real world? It would be cool if we had that right?”

“Maybe this play would inspire people to really do that.”

The students are introduced to some key playwriting terms and discuss what it means to have “stakes” and for a character to use different “tactics.” Most importantly the students must answer the question of “what does your character want more than anything in the world?” After a brief discussion of what it means to have a Deus Ex Machina moment in a play, the students go back to writing and to tie up the loose ends of their stories. The drama and humor in their work comes to life at the end of class when they read their plays aloud to the group. They are all rapt listening to their fellow students plays and anxious to share their own.

By Libby Winters


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