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“Mind the gap” – From student to playwright in the blink of an eye

Meet Ayami, a 10th grader from Tokyo, Japan at our New York campus. This is Ayami’s first year at EF Academy and she is already making the most of her experience!

Through our Drama department and with the help of her teacher, Mrs. Yvonne Bill, Ayami was introduced to an amazing opportunity to begin her journey into screenwriting with the “Mind the Gap” theatre program.

What is Mind the Gap?

Mind the Gap is a New York playwriting workshop where seven teens aged 14-19 work side-by-side with seven adults aged 60 and older to write and produce their own plays. This workshop is unique, as it combines both generations’ experiences to create a one-of-a-kind script.

To create their plays, each teen is eventually paired with an adult. The first seven weeks of the program are guided discussions led by facilitators to inspire creativity, as well as writing workshops and interview practice with each member of the program. These workshops introduce each member to one another and launch the creative process. In the next seven weeks following this introductory period, each teen is paired with an adult to form a permanent partnership, where they will exchange stories and ultimately put together exceptional 10-minute, individual plays, using their partner’s experience for inspiration. At the end of the workshop, there will be a total of 14 plays.

Upon completion of the playwriting experience, the New York Theatre Workshop brings in professional actors and actresses to put on the show for an audience via Zoom.

How was Ayami selected?

After a long interview process, including an extended survey back in February 2022, followed by an hour-long interview with the older participants, Ayami was selected to be one of the seven playwriting teens.

After being selected, Ayami was paired with an adult, in which they promptly introduced themselves and began brainstorming ideas for their play.

How did the playwriting process begin?

For the first seven weeks, the participants are given weekly prompts to discuss with the group. For example, week one’s prompt was “What does home mean to you?”  To get an idea of what Ayami’s storyboarding process looks like so far, we asked her to answer this question:

“To me, home is unconditional love. At my age, this comes from my family. However, EF Academy has become my second family and my school experience will surely contribute to my perspective on this prompt; my friends at EF Academy are also my home.”

Ayami shared with us her partner’s perspective on the prompt, which is that home is somewhere a person can just be themselves. Their partner elaborated on this statement, emphasizing the importance of work-life balance, and what it means to lift weight off your shoulders, even if for only a moment.

What is the experience like?

While there is no formal prompt for Ayami’s final play, the premise of her play must surround the ideals of this prompt and be based solely on personal experience.

Starting during week 8, Ayami meets with her partner virtually on Zoom once a week until the end of May to interview each other and start compiling their ideas for the play. At the moment, they are still in their individual storyboarding processes but are quickly approaching the time to put their ideas on paper.

On 23 May 2022, there will be a group reading where all 7 pairs will get to share their plays to the group. Ayami is excited to invite Mrs. Bill and her friends to this reading and can’t wait to show them what her and her partner have developed.

Why playwriting?

Ayami shared with us that this is her first experience with playwriting. She has always been very captivated by the entertainment industry and began exploring her interests through acting. After falling in love with the world of theatrical arts, Ayami knew she wanted to combine her interest in writing with her fascination of drama. This led her to the playwriting path that she’s just embarked upon. Ayami is drawn to the inner workings of the backstage life and craft of writing. Her dream is to become a screenwriter and she is excited that she finally has the opportunity to work hands-on in this field.

 

We look forward to seeing what you produce, Ayami!

 

“EF Academy is life changing. This place has a lot of diversity and open-mindedness. In the few months I’ve been here, I’ve had a lot of growth and I’m incredibly grateful for it.”

Ayami, Grade 10

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