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Interview: Sudanese/Australian Playwright Afeif Ismail

Playwright and Poet Afeif Ismail was born in Sudan and currently lives and writes in Australia.  WLPG co-editors Deirdre Kelly Lavrakas and Kim Peter Kovac were fortunate to be able to have an extended conversation with him in Washington, DC, and we are grateful that he was able to find the time to answer some questions for the WLPG community.

WLPG: Was there something in particular that motivated you to start writing for young audiences?

AFEIF: I grew up beside my grandmother in a poor family and we didn’t have a T.V then. But my wealth is my grandmother’s precious tales. My Grandmother would tell me stories, performing them as if she was her own one-woman theatre: she was the designer, actor, director – everything. The pulse of her stories still beats in my mind and memory. I used to fly with her tales all the time, reincarnated as one of her characters. I traced step by step all the mazes and roads and rough paths, whistling with legendary animals

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Interview: Russian Playwright Ksenia Dragunskaya

Russian Ksenia Dragunskaya is a busy writer of plays for childen and young people, plays for adults, and books for children.  She's a member of the Russian Writers Association, the PEN Center, and her plays have been translated into English, French, German, Serbian, Bulgarian, Czech, Finnish  and Japanese.  WLPG was fortunate that she found time for a short interview.

WLPG: Was there something in particular that motivated you to start writing for young audiences?

KSENIA: When my son was a little kid, we both relentlessly invented stories, dialogues, and characters. So one day, I collected some of these in a play and my career started.  The first play i wrote was produced immediately in a few theaters and it's being produced still.

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'Writes of Spring': bringing stories to life on stage

'Writes of Spring' is a yearly collaboration between graduate students in Theater for Young Audiences at the University of Central Florida, the Orlando Repertory Theatre and 1000+ students in grades K-12, who submit poems, essays or short stories around a theme.  This year, following the prompt "When I put on .....", over a hundred pieces were selected to be woven into a play by Amanda Hill.  The production, titled "if not now, when" will perform May 1 and 2, with UCF students as actors and directed by Courtney Grile.

Read the article in UCF Today


'Gender Identity, Empathy, and a Trilingual Goat': interview with US playwright Gabriel Jason Dean by Abra Chusid 

It’s a story about about two young boys who become friends, despite their differences.  It takes place in Southern California, on Halloween; the Santa Ana Winds are blowing very hard.--which is funny because they were actually causing a lot of havoc when we did this play at UT: an added bonus. Doodle is the new kid in the quad, and he meets Reno, a boy dressed as a Vaudeville Vampire.  Reno is wearing a ballet tutu, and reveals that he not only wears ballet tutus on Halloween, but sometimes at home as well.  It’s really the story of Doodle coming to understand Reno, and to accept Reno for who he is.   Doodle actually ends up transforming Reno’s grandfather’s views and beliefs about his grandson as well.  And there’s a talking goat; an imaginary talking goat.  Did I mention that part?

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'12 Miles From Nowhere On Tour' (Freddie Machin, UK)

November 2011

In 2009 Action Transport Theatre Company invited four actor-writers to research, compose and ultimately perform a play for the rural youth community of Cheshire. During the two-year process, we have met and workshopped ideas with those young people, workshopped together as writers, written collaboratively, presented readings across Cheshire and finally toured the play – 12 MILES FROM NOWHERE – back to the communities where it was formed. The tour comprises of a mixture of venues including school performances at lunchtime, evening performances at village halls and a week of matinee, morning matinee and evenings at Whitby Hall, Action Transport’s theatre in Ellesmere Port.

It was always intended that the writers of the play would perform in the inevitable tour and I am one of the three who have completed that journey. It was therefore thought possible to schedule an intensive, two-week rehearsal process rather than the relative luxury of the usual three. Action Transport like the majority of arts organisations in the UK suffered a cut in their funding in the last spending review. This in part led to the postponement of our tour and redundancies within the company, so a two-week rehearsal seemed to suit everyone.

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