Promising Playwright, August 2013
Nana Gongadze has a passion for writing. A rising 10th grader at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, she first got involved in YPT when the In-School Playwriting Program visited her class in 7th grade.
Nana’s play, The Alligator Summer, was produced in the 2012 New Play Festival. Nana lights up as she describes the story, gesturing excitedly. Her play is a charming coming-of-age story about a boy who wants nothing more than to enjoy the lazy days of summer, but his mother insists that he get a job. Nana explained, "I like to draw upon my own experiences when I’m writing creatively." She once saw alligators by the roadside when visiting her cousins in a small Florida town, so in the play she imagined what it might be like to be a teenager in a very different place. In the play, the boy ultimately finds a job at a wildlife preserve, working alongside his best friend.
Since her time in YPT, Nana has explored all kinds of writing. Her creative writing ranges from plays to screenplays and stories. She aims to bring creativity into all of her writing, especially when she writes music reviews in a blog that she has maintained since last October. She has also submitted posts to other blogs, which have featured her work, and hopes to pursue a career in journalism.
Playwriting was an exciting experience for Nana because it was so different from other writing styles she had done. She likes to act, and draws upon her theatrical experience during the process. "When I write my lines I think, ’Would I say this myself? Could I act this myself?’ I picture what the stage picture would look like when I’m writing the scene so I can keep it realistic, keep it engaging." She explains that these extra considerations don’t feel like a burden. "It’s fun for me. It’s challenging for me, and I like that it challenges me."
As a member of YPT’s Student Advisory Council (SAC), Nana has stayed deeply involved in YPT since her play was produced. SAC provides YPT with valuable insight into how we can better serve our students. Last year they decided to impact programming more directly by taking on a massive fundraising project to bring YPT to a new school. Nana suggested that they make a video and together they wrote, filmed and edited a fundraising video, in the style of a funny infomercial. The video was designed to teach people about YPT in a fun way, encouraging them to donate at the end. It worked, and SAC raised over $3,000, allowing YPT to bring programming to Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. Amidon-Bowen was previously on our waiting list but will begin the In-School Playwriting Program this fall, thanks to SAC’s hard work.
Nana is looking forward to another year as a Student Advisory Council member. "I really appreciate what YPT does," she says. "I really appreciate how they bring writing to other people... [YPT] affects students and actors who work on the plays and everyone here - it’s cool to be a part of something like that."
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