This year, NYCCT was proud to partner with New Paradigm Theatre for our Middle School Playwriting Competition. Six incredible young actors lent us their talents for our Middle School Playwriting Reading in May. See what one of the talented young actors, Jimi, has to say about participating in the competition.

Hello, my name is James Wright.  I am an actor and singer of over eight years as well as an executive for the New Paradigm Theatre Company’s Youth Board.  Over the course of the last two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in one of the most interesting, educational, and exciting theatrical experiences I’ve yet been a part of.  The New York City Children’s Theater (NYCCT) provided me with an opportunity to work with both professionals and friends in a collaborative undertaking with NPT.

Every year, the NYCCT holds an annual competition for aspiring playwrights in middle school all across New York City, taking their submissions for short play scripts with an annually set theme and giving the winners a chance to see their plays brought to theatre in the form of a staged reading.  This year, the theme was technology, and the plays included in the staged readings were “The Use of Technology”, “Parenting.com”, “The Cost of Technology”, “Battletron NX3”, and “Speaking”. As I read over the scripts for these performances, I was awestruck that middle schoolers had written such impactful and powerful stories with such prose and structure.   

From Left: Sydney, Jaden, Jimi and Aimee at rehearsal

As I rode the train into Grand Central, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. I’d studied my roles and lines for days and felt confident, but I’ve always been one to get a healthy amount of stage fright before giving a performance.

May 12th was the date of our rehearsal.  As I rode the train into Grand Central, I couldn’t help but feel nervous.  I’d studied my roles and lines for days and felt confident, but I’ve always been one to get a healthy amount of stage fright before giving a performance.  I made my way into the Ripley Grier Studios (our rehearsal space) with the other actors from NPT. Almost as soon as we all introduced ourselves and met the actors from NYCCT, it felt like we had all known each other for years.  Even when we weren’t in one of the plays, we sat and listened as every performer’s act gripped us and maintained our intrigue even after we’d heard the play run over and over.

The rehearsal went so well that our actual performances on May 14th and May 20th went off without a hitch.  The performance on May 14th was held in the Clurman Theatre in New York City and the performance on May 20th was held in the Pequot Library in Southport, CT.  After a suitable period of rest, I felt inclined to write about my experience and leave any readers with one eye-opening note that the NYCCT taught me through these performances.  Children are extremely intelligent, imaginative, and capable. As we grow older, we all seem to forget just how smart those younger than us are. However, these wonderful plays that I had the honor of performing in are undeniable proof that kids understand complex social issues, in-depth writing, and psychology.  It is also clear that they possess the imagination and drive needed to write the amazing plays that I got to read over the course of these last two weeks. I learned that “growing up” isn’t necessary to achieve greatness.

Check out this clip of Jimi and Sydney performing in The Use of Technology written by Shakima F. 

Know a young playwright who would like to join next year’s competition?

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