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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Consumer Playwrights See Their Plays Come to Life
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In January 2008, consumers from Project Renewal in New York, NY finished writing a series of plays that were performed by actors from Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA), also located in New York. TFANA’s adult playwriting program is designed to help new and experienced writers tell their stories. Using a curriculum, which includes improvisational acting exercises, TFANA teaches the elements of playwriting: conflict, character, setting, monologue, dramatic arc, and conflict resolution. The program consists of ten 90-minute sessions, during which each participant writes an original play. The plays are ultimately performed on stage by professional actors.

Project Renewal staff member Diane Esper recounts one performance: “Charlie and Kenny were both given awards that night from the theatre group, which they proudly received after the production. They were beaming with pride and delight as they watched their ideas expressed by such talented actors. The actors received the scripts only the afternoon of the scheduled performance and then worked closely with a director in the final shaping of the plays. Charlie’s was titled ‘Two Eggs with Bacon,’ a love story, and Kenny’s was titled ‘Forbidden Fruit.’”

“Both of the stories were passionate - with themes of trust woven throughout,” recalls Esper. “There was a reception afterwards where Charlie and Kenny spoke with audience members and fellow actors about their plays. It was wonderful to see them feeling so good about what they had created. They received so much positive feedback and encouragement to continue working.”

To learn more about Theatre for a New Audience, visit
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