Student playwrights see pieces come to life at festival

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. (WIVB) — One actor is portraying Big Foot, another, a dragon, and a third, a tooth — that’s right, an actual tooth. They’re all playing parts written by third and fourth graders in Chautauqua County. It’s part of the Young Playwrights Festival taking place at the Chautauqua Institution.

“Today is play celebration day,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, the Institution’s vice president of performing and visual arts.

The Institution is helping nearly 400 students from schools around the region tap into their creative sides.

“It brings the creative process to life for children. Sometimes they get stuck when they’re writing and they think of it as work. We’re teaching them that a play is just an idea in your head.”

Some stories are dramas, others comedies, and there are some tragedies.

Students spend months learning about characters, setting, plot, problems, and solutions and then they write their play.

The day at the Chautauqua institution is part two of the process — the first one comes in the classroom in the fall — and the final part comes in June when 10 plays will be performed by the Institution’s theater program. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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