Saturday, September 23, 2023

York County School of the Arts Reworks Play Writing Competition During Pandemic

York County School of the Arts hosted an in house one act play competition to take the place of the canceled New Voices for the Theater. (Courtesy of the National Park Service)

YORK COUNTY — At the York County School Board meeting on Oct. 25, the board recognized some of the students in the York County School of the Arts (SOA) for their achievements in the SOA Literary Arts One Act Commission Competition.

Since the early 1990s, the SOA, which is the county’s fine arts program housed at Bruton High School, has taken part in the New Voices For the Theater program, which is an annual playwriting competition hosted by the School of the Performing Arts In the Richmond Community (SPARC).

In the competition, a handful of one act plays are picked out of hundreds of submissions from high school students across the Commonwealth. Those selected get the opportunity to attend a residency during the summer where they get to workshop their play and bring it to the stage.

The competition was canceled for the 2020-21 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not wanting their students to miss out on the opportunity to create, the faculty at SOA designed an similar competition, reworked to fit the pandemic era.

Plays submitted were judged based on a number of criteria, including their suitability for being produced virtually by the theater arts classes at SOA and York County’s Middle School Art’s Magnet (MSAM).

Of the forty plays submitted by SOA students, four were picked for production. The subject matter for each play showed the unique variety presented by the students. From a girl with super-hearing navigating the halls of her middle school to a murder mystery.

One of the winning plays entitled, “The Kindergarten Martian,” was written by Ava Scott, a senior at Grafton High School. The play is about trying to identify a Martian posing as a kindergartener in a virtual classroom using the platform, Zoom.

Ava said that she wrote the play based on what she knew. She crafted the story about the young children that her family was fostering.

“It was inspired by the children who provided a lot of humorous lines,” she said. While the subject matter came about naturally, Ava said that the class she takes with SOA helped her flesh it out.

“We have a process,” she said. “We work through the class and do a lot of peer review and have some other activities to help people get inspired if they don’t already have an idea.”

Three of the four plays made can be seen on the SOA website. The fourth play is currently being produced by seniors in the SOA program and it will debut on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. during the Evening of the Arts program at Bruton High School.

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