This year marks the tenth anniversary of Colorado Academy’s collaboration with the Curious Theatre in downtown Denver, through which CA students may take part in playwriting workshops and then have their works presented onstage by some of Denver’s top actors. This unique program gives students a time and place to take creative risks and experiment with a genre most are encountering for the first time.
Directed by Dee Covington, Curious Theatre education outreach director, actor, and director, and coordinated by Betsey Coleman, ninth-grade English teacher, the playwriting program provides the safety, encouragement, and challenges needed to turn already accomplished young writers into confident playwrights. Together, CA and Curious enable the students to get their voices out to a wider community, which has extended beyond the boundaries of CA and the Curious Theatre Company to national competitions and university stages.
This year’s plays will be presented on March 15 and 16, 2015 at the Curious Theatre.
There are dozens of alumni of the program that profess its powerful impact. “For me, the most valuable element of the playwriting club at CA was the opportunity to explore a genre I had never touched before,” says 2010 grad Anna Zumbahlen, as well as “the opportunity to work closely with Dee. Working with Curious in high school also taught me to be confident in my craft and in myself. Curious Theatre played a major role in my high school experience, leading me eventually to the creative writing department at the University of Colorado at Boulder… I majored in poetry at CU, and in my last semester there, I wrote an honors thesis in poetry with the help of professor Noah Eli Gordon, who is an incredible poet and teacher.”
“For me, the most valuable element of the playwriting club at CA was the opportunity to explore a genre I had never touched before.”
Alyssa Miller, a CA alumna from the Class of 2012, says she gained some of the same insights from the program. “The Playwriting Institute at CA was one of the most unique and positive experiences I had in high school. I knew I loved writing, and I knew I loved theater, but I never considered putting the two together, much less in an academic setting. I do not know of any other high school that has given their students the opportunity to not only write short plays, but to have them read by professional actors and under professional direction.
Continues Miller, “I remember the early days of the program. We called it “drive-by playwriting,” and on a brisk Saturday in February, a gang of lowly high school actors was recruited to hole up in a black box theater for ten hours and stage a reading of the plays produced by the few students in the program. I was a freshman when I was first asked to participate, and I was completely in awe of the talent of the upperclassmen whose plays were being performed. I never thought it was something I would be capable of achieving myself, but somehow Ms. Coleman convinced me to start spending my Wednesday lunches in her classroom …
“By my senior year, CA’s partnership with the Curious Theater Company was only continuing to grow. I had the chance to have three short plays staged and read at the Curious Theater, and I never stopped learning as both a performer and a playwright.
The program has greatly influenced my college career and my post-college aspirations. At Yale I am working towards my degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. I have also continued with performance, and have had the chance to work on eight shows at Yale, including one original musical that went to the New York International Fringe Festival last summer. It is incredible to see how the program has grown since my freshman year, and so very exciting to think of the opportunities it is providing other students at CA.”