A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Arts & Entertainment, Opinions & Editorials

West should perform plays and musicals written by local students

If there’s one thing to be learned about Broadway musicals and plays, it is that they usually start out somewhere other than Broadway like a college. Even the musical Hamilton started out at the lower level as a college production, then it was picked up to be on Broadway two years after. Hamilton is a rap-styled musical about the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and his personal life written in the creative license of composer and playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

So, the question stands: shouldn’t West be able to do the same?

According to the director of West Theater Art Program (WestTAP), Judith Smith, they currently choose plays that “will appeal to students (to perform, to build and attend), to the directors’ (Tech, Artistic, Music, Choreography) and potential audience since we have to make money to support the program.” And who knows the audience better than the students?

Thespian Society, a club of West students who participate in theatrical events at West, should be able to create and perform plays. There are many benefits to having students write what ends up on the stage.

For one, the director doesn’t have to go through a major censorship process for the play or musical would be written under school guidelines. The director would be like a supervisor, and the censorship process would happen during the writing; thus, the script would be finalized quicker.

Secondly, as the play would be written by the students of the school in which the theatrical piece performs, copyright buying would not be an issue.

Thirdly, this would look good on resumes for New Berlin West students who aspire to work as someone who creates plays and musicals, as prior experience would make them eligible compared to students who aspire the same but haven’t done the same.

Fourthly, it also helps people improve their writing skills in a unique way no matter what they aspire to do. For example, if someone wants to be a writer, writing a script, in a way, is similar to writing a book outline: this way, they’d have an idea of the action and dialogue.

In addition, it also provides an abstract technique for learning social skills such as empathy. When writing different personalities, the writer is able to step into the character’s shoes and envision how their character would react or feel in certain situations. In turn, this aids the ability to empathize with other people.

A few years back, I had the honor to help write a play with a group of peers around my age. We were called Wordplay Ensemble, and we met at First Stage Academy. In the two years I spent with this group, I helped write two plays that turned out to be very entertaining. One was about pirates; the other was about the Brothers Grimm.

Maybe it wouldn’t be Thespian Society that wrote the plays, but a club for people who want to write in a creative format. It wasn’t just plays, we wrote in Word Play Ensemble. At the beginning of most sessions, we would practice our writing skills, and other scenes. Sometimes, we wrote poetry. Sometimes we wrote scenes. In all, it was a place where people who were passionate about theater and writing came together in a respectful environment where ideas were infinite.

“What starts with an M and ends with a Y?”
“Malarkey, sir?”
-The Ballad of Captain Irene, written by Wordplay Ensemble in the 2015-2016 school year. Characters featured: Captain Baedeker (first line), and First Man Pomegranate Jones (second line).

Google+