The SOTA Radio Dramas Project began in Michelle Sapere’s drama class at School of the Arts. Because RCTV was looking to create radio dramas to air on 100.9 WXIR and also wanted more youth involvement, Rashida Burch-Washington reached out to Ms. Sapere to discuss an after-school program. Ms. Sapere immediately jumped at the idea of actually incorporating the project into the curriculum for her drama class.
Three separate groups of five to six students began crafting youth-oriented plays that will ultimately be performed on 100.9 WXIR.
Jo Jo Guzman and Nolan Bell, students participating in the groups, both agreed that the process of writing collaboratively is much easier and smoother than trying to write a play alone. They talked about how, in drama class, they’ve become so used to portraying characters and their feelings, that they’re finding it an exciting challenged to actually determine what the characters say and do.
The radio drama Nolan is involved in writing offers a serious take on the topic of bullying, as a group of “cool kids” invite an “outcast” to join them at a party, as a spoof. What starts as a joke takes a nasty turn, forever changing lives.
The”serious fantasy” Jo Jo is working on, and in which he also plays the protagonist, finds the characters entrenched in a real-life video simulation, with surprising and dangerous consequences.
The third drama takes a look at the gender-biased world of fashion in the academic world of teen students, from the eyes of the young women in the group.
“It’s interesting that all three really have underlying meaning,” said Nolan as they explained the plots and talked enthusiastically about project and how it has brought the students together.
“We’re all really close,” they agreed, “just like family. We might disagree, but we work it out. It feels like our home away from home.”
Both attribute the closeness of the group to working on the radio dramas together.
On May 20 at the One Year Anniversary Celebration of 100.9 WXIR, the students will debut excerpts of the radio dramas, and they expect to have the pieces finalized shortly thereafter.
Jo Jo and Nolan are also involved with a third friend name Alfredo Aponte in creating a new radio program called JAN in the Evening. JAN is the acronym for the first names of the three teens who will host the program. They anticipate including new school and old school rap as well as other genres of music, and discussions of what musicians influenced them. One critical reason for doing the program is to make their voices heard, as teens, and to impart their views about what they see and how issues affect them.
“It will be a combination of seriousness and wackiness,” they laugh.
When asked about their thoughts about School of the Arts, they were in complete agreement that the open and accepting atmosphere and the liberal perspective provides a great environment in which to learn.
“We love School of the Arts,” they concurred.