by PAUL BICKLEY
Budding playwrights have an opportunity to see their work come to life as Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP) hosts its 36th Annual MiniPlay Festival, open to students in first through eighth grade.
“We’re cultivating the next generation of theatergoers and theater artists,” says Rachael Himsel, BPP’s director of education and MiniPlay producer. One hundred children submitted plays for the 2019 festival.
“The winning miniplays exhibited creativity, great storytelling, and good use of detail,” Himsel says. Last year’s play theme was “science fiction” and one of the winning plays was about a woman who asks Siri everything, every day. When Siri comes to life, the woman decides she no longer needs her.
Himsel visits area schools to talk about the contest. If a school would like her to conduct a drama workshop, she’s available to do that, too. She conducts drama workshops at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington and Ellettsville and created and teaches at the 14-year-old BPP summer DramatiKIDS camp for playwriting.
“I like the kids’ creativity and energy,” she says. “They’re excited about learning and about getting better at communicating their ideas.”
The 2020 MiniPlay Festival theme is “explorers.” Submissions should be 1–10 pages in length, have no more than six characters, use the theme of explorers in a clear way, and include no guns or violence.
“Kids should think about one moment in time and expand it, instead of having many scenes or characters,” Himsel says.
Members of BPP’s board of directors, local writers, Himsel, and volunteers will judge the entries on creativity and structure and other dramatic elements.
First-place winners in designated categories will receive $50 and a limousine ride on the afternoon of April 5 to the BPP, 107 W. 9th St., where adult actors will present staged readings of first- through third-place submissions in each category. All entrants will walk the BPP red carpet for a photo session and be treated to a pizza and ice cream party with their families, friends, and teachers after the readings.
The competition is free to enter; deadline is March 2. For more information, visit newplays.org.