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12 I n c i t e /I ns i ght Network Spotlight W i n te r 20 1 9 How Students are Learning Playwriting Through AATE The Playwrights In Our Schools Project WR ITTEN BY JOHN NEWMAN A ATE’s Playwrights In Our School Project allows secondary students to see how plays are written and, more importantly, rewritten. Aspiring young writers see professional dramatists make changes to their texts, and this inspires them to improve their own scripts. It helps students and teachers to contribute to a canon of new works for young actors and audiences in addition to remounting familiar plays from the established repertory. Playwrights In Our Schools (PIOS), began with five 2003 school residencies that were made possible by a grant from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. During its first year, PIOS connected five award- winning playwrights from Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, and Hawaii with school residencies in California, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and New York. PIOS took a different approach in 2005, sending three high school theatre teachers to observe script development at the Provincetown Playhouse, the Bonderman Symposium, and Pollyanna Theatre Company, who then initiated play development projects in their schools. In 2007, PIOS connected eight professional writers with eight adolescent writers who developed three drafts of their own short scripts through correspondence with their mentors. Since 2009, Broadway Across America Utah’s Education Foundation has supported one or two PIOS residencies by award- winning playwrights in Utah secondary schools. Writers who have participated in the Utah residencies include Ric Averill, Gloria Bond Clunie, Max Bush, Brian Geuhring, D.W. Gregory, Claudia Haas, Barry Kornhasuer, and Carol Korty. These writers have worked in private, charter, and public schools throughout the state of Utah. The centerpiece of the three-day residencies is the development of the adult writer’s latest script. Students perform a staged reading of the resident writer’s latest work that typically undergoes extensive rewrites before and during the rehearsal process. While the teachers and students approach the residency as if it’s all about the development of the play, the dramatist approaches the residency as if it’s all about the learning of the students. Half of the dozen plays developed through the Utah PIOS residencies have been published and all of them have received full productions. The published scripts credit the school for furthering the play’s development and often acknowledge the student casts by name. PIOS residencies also include opportunities for young playwrights to receive feedback on their own works from the professional adult writer. The guest dramatists visit drama, creative writing, and other academic courses, holding question-and-answer sessions and teaching playwriting workshops. The teachers and students get to know the playwrights as real people rather than as names on script covers. They come to see how a dramatist can be an active participant in a play’s production. Claudia Haas’ Antigone in Munich