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Young playwright makes theater debut

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Actors at the GALA Theatre in Washington are gearing up for the spring play season, which will include plays from the 2016 Young Playwright’s competition. Instead of the actors taking direction from seasoned professionals, students such as fifth-grader Emily Catalina Morales Rojas will be calling the shots.

Morales Rojas’ journey to the big stage began in fourth-grade when she took a class through the Young Playwrights’ Theater’s in-school program at John Adams Elementary School in Alexandria. She learned about the elements of a script, which usually includes a monologue, dialogue, antagonist and protagonist.

“I just had a lot of ideas and I was wondering, who could be my protagonist, who could be my antagonist. I have a sister, but then I thought, well she can’t be the antagonist. And then I thought maybe I could add a brother,” said Morales Rojas.

Her play titled, “Siblings,” follows the turbulent relationship between a brother and sister. The brother has a tendency to bully his sister, who then comes up with a plan to change her brother’s mean behavior. 

When Morales Rojas first put pen to paper for her play, she had no idea it would be entered in a contest. She was excited just to learn how to write a play. Her whole family was surprised when they received a call in February saying that Morales Rojas’ play had been one of 15 selected out of 1,000 elementary school entries. 

“We were all surprised,” said her father, Pedro Morales, a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria. “It’s going to be a big party.”

Morales Rojas’ involvement with the production did not stop after winning the competition. A major part of the playwrights’ organization is to teach theater production. To assist Morales Rojas, the group assigned her a drama coach.

“I was kind of scared to have a drama (coach), because I thought she was going to just tell me to add things to my play,” said Morales Rojas. “But she (didn’t). She let me have ideas ... not just  choices.”

Through the guidance of her coach, Morales Rojas was able to add elements to her 10-minute play that were not in her original script. One of those scenes includes a driving lesson with the two siblings. 

In the weeks leading up to the performance, Morales Rojas will meet with the actors, attend rehearsal and have input on everything from props and costume to stage position and lighting. 

Opening night can’t come soon enough for the Morales Rojas family who can’t wait to watch “Siblings” live at the GALA Theatre May 1. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017