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Posted 17 days ago
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Welcome to the new normal! In addition to teaching (and supervising breaks) more students and classes this year (we are in person), my after school fall play has morphed into a once-a-week play production class. To fit with our rules of social distancing and masks, we have opted to write our own film. I have six boys and nine girls, from 7th to 11th grade. Somehow, I have to find time to not only produce a play, but essentially, write it.
My group wanted to explore the themes of communication through monologues via all sorts of mediums (phones, zoom, letters, etc...) and to span the generations. The military seems to figure prominently in their ideas, so our generations live through WWII, early Vietnam era, mini-conflicts in the 80s and the aftermath of 9/11. We don't plan any war scenes, just perhaps a conflict between a military family and those less likely to serve.
We've got the bare bones of an idea - four generations - our modern day heroine searching for her biological ancestors and encountering conflict with her parents and grandparents. (In our brainstorming, kids decided that there are four generations - a couple from WWII where the soldier never returned from the war and the woman he loved gives the child they conceived up for adoption. This child (the grandmother of our protagonist) is a character in our play, as is her granddaughter, who in searching through Grandma's attic discovers the letters of our couple from WWII and goes on a journey to discover her biological roots. We want to use the letters of the WWII couple as a springboard for our themes.
Now, our limits are that we can only film monologues. Plus, we only meet once a week, after school. That's the only way we can allow students to remove masks, individually. This means that our story is a series of phone calls, zoom calls, letters, postcards, emails, etc....as our protagonist searches for answers about her biological great grandparents.
I'm a director but not a playwright. Does anyone have any great suggestions for getting student writers to write compelling individual monologues that can connect to a larger story? Any thoughts about how to structure such a film/play, moving between generations, and perhaps even giving a parallel plot to our protagonist that mirrors the conflict of the great-grandparents? I have mostly young students, 7-9th grade, and my strong older students are only here every other week. I fear we'll talk this to death and never commit to anything on paper, let alone film it.
Thanks for any help or resources you can point me toward!
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