Words, music, writing and performance come together for one night only when WordPlay presents Enter Stage Write, a new collaboration with The Requiem Project featuring teens from Aiken High School on May 10 at Hoffner Lodge.
The evening celebration of stories, called “What I Am,” culminates nine weeks of workshops in both writing and performing. The project has included professionals from across the region who have acted as teachers and guides for the students.
“The goal was simple: help these young people, many of whom we have been working with for nearly two years as part of our WordUp program, showcase their talents and their stories,” says Libby Hunter, WordPlay executive director.
Students in the WordUP program have met weekly since fall 2012 to focus on building community and self-confidence as they receive help with schoolwork. Throughout the course of the 2012-2013 school year, two students earned a spot on the honor roll for the first time ever; all students in the program passed onto the next grade level.
Adding Enter Stage Write this spring proved a powerful way to expose a growing community of students, and community artists, to new worlds of opportunities.
What grew out of an idea to create a stage for students who had experienced homelessness has evolved into a powerful performance piece that puts the trials and tribulations of Cincinnati high school life into perspective.
Master writing teachers included former Northsider and Thomas More College writer-in-residence Pauletta Hansel, former CCM Drama professor Michael Burnham, Dr. Kathy Zlabeck of UC's Creative Writing program, spoken word artist Desirae Hosley and Aiken alum, UC student and poet Lauren Lovette.
Requiem Project co-founders Tara Lindsey Gordon and Tina Manchise not only added support for the writing sessions of the project, they managed the transition of the students’ work to the stage, with support from performance volunteers Brian Griffin, Mark Flanigan and musician and composer Daniel Martin Moore.
“The students worked so hard to make this real,” Manchise says. “Most of them have never been in a play, much less shared their personal stories publicly. We couldn’t be more proud of their work.”
Hunter adds that numerous additional dedicated volunteers have worked one-on-one with students weekly to prepare them for May 10. “Our volunteers do so much every day to create a safe and nurturing environment for these amazing young people,” she says. “We can’t wait to share their work with the public.”
“What I Am,” a performance of Enter Stage Write, will be performed Saturday, May 10, at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 pm) at Hoffner Lodge, 4120 Hamilton Avenue. Tickets are FREE, but you must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, May 9, to assure adequate seating is available.
WordPlay thanks our generous sponsors Maggie and Karl Gieseke and Family, The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Family Foundation, Charitable Words Scholars, Dojo Gelato and WCPO for making this program possible.
By Elissa Yancey, WordPlay co-founder, board chair and director of WordPlay programming with Aiken High School.