'StageWrite' helps kids explore literacy with theater


"My play is 'Is this fiction?' by Ellie Murphy-Weise. That's me," Ellie says. Her play is about a girl on a field trip to the de Young Museum with her second-grade class.

Works by seven young playwrights are being staged at the de Young and Brava Theatre. A recent field trip to the museum was the inspiration for the fifth-graders from Starr King School. They are part of StageWrite which helps them explore literacy by using theatre.

They call them short plays by short people, but this is more than an exercise in playwriting. It's about learning and communication. "Where they are, who they are and what they feel, and theatre is the perfect way to tap into those emotions and imaginations, and then the literacy comes through because they're engaged," says Stage Write Executive Director Elana Lagerquist.

It's the ninth year of the StageWrite program. Students who have struggled with literacy find validity in their ideas and then they hear their words performed on stage. "When you start to move, you really get the essence of what they're trying to tell us. Whether it's a story, or drama, or comedy, you get a glimpse of who they are," Liz Rogers-Beckley says.

They may never become playwrights, but the skills the students learn there will work in anywhere and that is a happy ending.

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