Writing the mission.
In 2013, after the tragic Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans, some of the Goat in the Road student playwrights who lived in the area wrote plays that dealt implicitly with the event. One summarized her work like this in relation to the shooting: “A bear is terrorizing the neighborhood, eating everyone's honey. An old lady comes back to her house and finds him. They fight. But then they stop fighting. They all realize they shouldn't have violence and they become best friends."
Writing can be an important artistic outlet for students trying to express the issues going on in their families and communities. Goat in the Road is the non-profit organization who has made writing their mission. They were founded in 2008 by a group of theater artists dedicated to making new plays and creating meaningful educational programming.
Their program Play/Write is unique in its approach; Goat in the Road teaching artists conduct a full year of writing classes at 5 different Orleans parish schools with over 250 students from across the city. In the spring, the organization hires local theater professionals to perform ten of the student plays in a showcase event at Dillard University. The magic of watching a young person witness their work come to life with full costumes, sets, and professional polish is an inspiration.
At the end of each year they run surveys with the teachers and students, who consistently say that the program increases creative capacity and interest in writing. Not only that, the program brings family members into the process. This year one of the student playwrights came to the showcase event with 12 family members who were all laughing and whooping for her play. Each year, they see that the magic of presenting and performing these plays brings families and communities together, and engages students who might not otherwise be engaged in the writing process.
Raising $1,000 dollars would allow Goat in the Road to produce four student plays for the Showcase. $2,000 covers the entire cost of printing the students’ final plays. $5,000 covers the cost for the full 20-week, year long teaching residency in a Play/Write school. The organization is constantly growing and refining to better serve the students. Play/Write has grown twenty-fold in size since it’s 2008 inception, and just this past year they expanded the program from three to five schools. This fall they will be piloting a new program called ‘Goat in the Schools’, which will tour student written plays to schools across the state. In five years time they hope to have reached hundreds of more students with the program, and expanded the Showcase event into a full weekend of writing events, programs, shows, and celebrations. Their goal, always, is to showcase the talent and creativity of young people, especially underserved young people, in this remarkable city.
Here is the first page from a Goat in the Road student play, a scene that takes place between a notepad and a pencil:
NotePad: Hey have you ever wondered about the outside world?
NotePad: Fine I'm gonna escape you can stay here.
(NotePad goes out the door.)
NotePad: I'll show him.
Pencil: He won't make it.
(Five seconds later NotePad comes back crying and in a full body cast.)
Pencil: How did they patch you up so fast?
NotePad: This is a play, there's conveniently convenience.
Pencil: So what happened?
NotePad. I saw an add for edible deodorant and got hit by a bus then a kid stole my wallet. Then a hobo took my pants.
Pencil: I told you so.
NotePad: I'll go back.
Pencil: Of course you will.
(He goes back into the world. 5 seconds later)
NotePad: (On the phone) I need 250,000,0000 dollars to get out of jail.
Pencil: Of course just of course.
NotePad: Thank you for bailing me out.
Pencil: Don't do it agai........
NotePad: (On the phone) Dude I'm in the Sahara Desert without clothes and I really gotta pee.
Pencil: I just want a normal Saturday.