In The Wonka Wonka Cool Girls Club, playwright Cecilia Jenkins’ debut work, Anne Marie – the Mother Superior of Mean Girls in the seventh grade – has formed “the coolest club in school.”
She invites Cat to join, but not Cat’s friend Shelly, because “I heard that late at night when you went to sleep, you take your hair off.”
Cat joins, but then she learns about the secret rules, and…well, you’ll just have to read the play after you buy “Write to Dream,” the newly published collection from the Young Playwrights’ Theater.
YPT, founded by D.C. playwright Karen Zacarias, has been in existence for seventeen years, but this is the first time the company has published in book form.
“Nothing is impossible. All things good and bad can influence your art,” advises Jenkins, now a new media artist and writer. “Use your surrounding to create great things.”
She was in the sixth grade when she wrote The Wonka Wonka Cool Girls Club.
Jenkins wasn’t the only young person writing when YPT started. “On my first day in the office at YPT, I discovered…boxes and boxes of plays, handwritten pages of lined notebook paper, written by hundreds and hundreds of DC students,” said David Snider, former YPT Producing Artistic Director. “As I read through these plays, I was blown away by the students’ creativity, their bravery and brilliance. I was inspired. And I realized we had everything we needed to succeed.”
Wonka Wonka and twenty-nine other plays from the young playwrights of the Young Playwrights’ Theater make up the fictional portion of “Write to Dream”; the book also includes a curriculum (designed to correlate with the nationally accepted Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts), in case, say, you would like to develop a program like the one Zacarias created for the kids of Washington. Included in the book is an evaluative tool developed by Dr. Barry Oreck.
In addition to the plays and the academic information, the book includes brief bios of nine of the young playwrights. One of them is Amber Faith Walton, author of Changing Tides: Judge Me Gently.
“When I created my characters, I decided to leave the fear of judgment behind,” she says, “believing that my work could change habits of hatred. I had been passive; but I now know, that being an advocate for justice is the path to a better future.”
You can get the book in paperback from Amazon for $16.99.