Orlando REP is excited to have representation in a national initiative to bring awareness and young voices to the tragic gun violence effecting our school systems.  Two Youth Academy students submitted their own 10-minute plays, and have been selected in the top 20 finalists!  We are thrilled that not only are their voices being heard on a national stage, but that they are now in the running to be part of the final group of winners!

What is this initiative?

#ENOUGH: PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE is a new campaign of theatre activism, founded in 2019, with a mission to provide middle and high school students with the platform to spark critical conversations about gun violence across the country. The project enables teens to express themselves through storytelling, foster open dialogue in their communities, take on leadership roles, and inspire creative action.  Project founder and producer Michael Cotey has put together a panel of prolific professional playwrights to act as judges for the contest.  The judges include Lauren Gunderson, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Robert Schenkkan, David Henry Hwang, and Karen Zacarías.

The winning playwrights receive $500, written feedback by a member of the Finalist Selection Committee, have their play read all across the country for the #ENOUGH Nationwide Reading on December 14, 2020, and have their play published in an anthology of #ENOUGH plays.

Hear from the renowned playwrights involved in the project, and what they have to say about it:

Jennifer Adams, our Senior Director of Education says “We are so proud of these writers and the messages they share within their plays about gun violence. They are beautifully honest and creative, reflecting not only themselves but views I’m sure are shared by many young people and adults. The opportunity to have nationally recognized playwrights read and respond to your work is a valuable learning opportunity that will hopefully help these writers grow as they continue to create new works.”

So who are these young playwrights?  Allow us to introduce you! 

Eislinn Gracen, Age 16

 Play: GUNS IN DRAGONLAND

How long have you been interested in playwriting?
Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved telling stories. I’ve been playwriting for a bit more than a year now and I’m so thankful for this medium of storytelling.

Is this your first play?
No, it is not. My first play was written during my downtime in my 9th grade digital design class at school.

What does this topic mean to you, on a personal level?
It hits me to my core. In the past, I’ve found myself speechless when stating my opinions on the subject. Not because of fear or carelessness, but because I felt like I didn’t deserve to speak on the subject since I’ve never physically experienced gun violence. Through the years, I’ve further cemented my place as a part of this movement. I have felt every feeling that every other child in America has felt. The American child’s greatest predator is a gun.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in Playwriting?
Yes! Though performing is my passion, writing is not far behind at all. One day, I’d love to write for cartoons, movies, or sketch comedy tv shows as well as plays.

What else should we know?
The idea of Guns in Dragonland came from a conversation I had with my eight year old brother about how he didn’t understand school lockdowns. He was so nonchalant about the whole thing, it was really disturbing. The only information he did know about the subject was that he had to hide from “the bad man.”

What is your favorite Orlando REP moment?
My favorite REP experience was the 2017 Summer Stock, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I met some of my current best friends in that show. The whole experience was just so memorable as it was one of the most professional experiences I had at that time. The cast was so drama-free. It was a blast.
I also still remember the first show I saw at Orlando REP, Click, Clack, Moo, like it was yesterday.

 

Adelaide Fisher, Age 16

Play: MS. MARTIN’S MALAISE

 

How long have you been interested in playwriting?
I’ve been interested in playwriting for a little over 3 years now. I actually got interested in playwriting when I did the Young Playwrights for Change competition at my middle school, also with Orlando REP, when I was in 7th grade!Is this your first play?
This isn’t my first play. That would be the one I just mentioned for Young Playwrights for Change! I also recently wrote a short play for a Quarantine “Bake-Off” style playwriting competition run by some passionate theatre students in another state, and I want to find more opportunities to keep writing.

What does this topic mean to you, on a personal level?
The topic of gun violence is something that means a lot to me, on a personal level. I have luckily never been the direct victim of a school shooting or any other gun violence, but as I’m sure we all know, a high school in this area had a shooting only a few years ago. I have a friend who lost a friend in that tragedy, and I think that’s partially true for everyone. Even if you haven’t been directly impacted by gun violence, you’re probably close to someone who has. That’s what makes it a personal issue for everyone, and that’s how I was able to base my play on multiple true stories from old principals of mine. Everyone has a story about gun violence, even if it isn’t a first hand account, and that needs to change.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in Playwriting?
I don’t necessarily want to become a professional playwright, but I have been thinking about doing some kind of theatre minor in college, and I hope to continue writing in some form for the rest of my life, no matter what career I end up in.

What else we should know?
I’m just excited to have been given this great opportunity by the REP, and I want to give all of you a big thank you and say that I’m excited to see where my play goes!

What is your favorite Orlando REP moment?
My favorite experience at the REP was a summer camp I did after my seventh grade year. We did a one-act called The Myths at the Edge of the World. It was the longest show I had ever been in at that point, and the biggest part I had ever played, so it was an exciting experience. I also made friends with several of my other cast mates, and it was overall a really fun week with a lot of great memories.

 

For more information on the #ENOUGH: PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE contest and initiative, visit www.enoughplays.com/ .