About two thirds of they way into our Young Playwrights’ residency at Donegan Elementary, young playwright Josue greeted us for the day with a serious expression. “Miss Emma, Mr. Josh,” he said in a grave, pre-break-up tone of voice, “I have to talk to you.”
Let me tell you about Josue. He is a bundle of energy, incredibly intelligent, and a crazy, charismatic little charmer. Even on days when his energy and intelligence are more distracting than productive, you can’t help but love him for being so honest and expressive, whether it’s in a playwriting game or on the page.
So when Josue told us he had to drop out of the program, we were a little heart-broken.
To be honest, the Donegan kids have had a bit of a rocky residency – due to scheduling and logistics issues, we had to start later than expected, which had us pushing up against Christmas break, and we lost a total of three classes – one due to alternate after-school programming, two to the snow days. And all this was after a big gap in the middle of the program due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The teaching artists and kids alike persevered in spite of adversity, and we hope that our class of young playwrights have learned not only about the value of creativity and literacy, but also the joy of working under a time crunch. Still, it was a real bummer to lose such a creative little firecracker. I know I had been looking forward to seeing what play Josue wrote.
Thursday– originally meant to be our last-day-play-sharing-and-pizza celebration, had turned into our last-day-sprinting-to-the-finish-line-of-play-writing, and as we sat the kids down to finish their plays, we were very surprised to find that Josue had re-joined us. He had been free. He had gotten permission. We still had his journal. We still had the first few lines of the play he’d started.
“So are you going to finish it?” I asked as I handed it off to him.
He gave me a look. A look that plainly said, Of course, Miss Emma, you silly teacher person.
Made my day.