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Young Playwrights Project Holds Student Performance Of Winning Local Plays

CHAUTAUQUA – A recently established partnership between Chautauqua Institution and a Florida-based theater company has resulted in the staging of short plays by area children for area children.

The Chautauqua Theater Company’s Young Playwrights Project held a student performance Monday at the institution’s Elizabeth Lenna Hall, where second-, third- and fourth-grade students from Chautauqua Lake, Panama and Fletcher elementary schools witnessed members of the Florida Studio Theatre and the resident theater company perform plays written by their peers.

The 11 plays that were staged in Monday’s student performance were those that were among the winning entries in the Young Playwrights contest held at the aforementioned schools last year. According to Deborah Sunya Moore, Chautauqua Institution’s vice president and director of programming, the program exemplifies Chautauqua Institution’s commitment to the surrounding community.

“This is part of a larger goal that Chautauqua Institution has,” Moore said. “A few years ago, we looked at our strategic plan, and part of that is to serve the Chautauqua community outside of the gates and grounds and outside of our nine-week season. We felt the best way to do that was to reach out to schools, and act as an arts and education resource for them.

“We really want to foster arts learning in the schools,” she continued. “So, while we’re not replacing the need for music or classes of any type, we can model for schools how to integrate that into the classroom for other types of learning in other subjects.”

The program is also presented in conjunction with Florida Studio Theatre, a contemporary theater company based in Sarasota, Fla., with which Chautauqua Institution has partnered. Florida Studio Theatre agreed to collaborate on the Young Playwrights Program as its message aligns with that of the Florida group’s own Write A Play program – an in-school outreach initiative designed to inspire students to be creative and to write plays.

The Young Playwrights Program was conceived by Chautauqua Institution as a way to expand its educational programming into a year-round format outside of its traditional nine-week season during the summer months. It is funded by Georgia Court, Chautauqua community member and board member of the Florida Studio Theatre.

Moore said the plays will again be staged Wednesday, June 28, at Smith Wilkes Hall from 6-6:45 p.m. as the first event of the institution’s 2016 Family Entertainment series. The event is free and open to any who wish to attend.