Posted July 24, 2020
Theater Teacher Catie O’Donnell is passionate about students finding their voice and strives to serve her students. Through the performing arts, students can learn from each other, gain confidence in public speaking, and tell stories through their unique perspective and worldview.
Each year, the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) resident artists partners with several Milwaukee area high schools. The Young Playwrights Festival resident taught a unit on playwriting at Cristo Rey Jesuit (CRJ) and students learned how to write a play from beginning to end. At the end of this unit, each student wrote a ten-minute play. From there, students can choose to submit their work to the MCT Young Playwrights Festival Showcase competition. From a pool of 90 one-act plays submitted, the two CRJ seniors – Sophia De Los Sanos and Imanol S. Ruiz – were selected for the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival Showcase competition in the top ten distinguished plays of 2020. Catie notes both plays are beautiful examples of strong student voices. “It’s such an honor. Both of these plays were so beautiful and honest. They come from such a unique and honest perspective that is not usual with high school students.”
Top Ten Distinguished Plays of 2020 – Cristo Rey Jesuit Student Playwrights Selections:
THE ROAD TO FAMILY
by Sophia De Los Santos
When their father is deported, two siblings must learn to reframe what family means to them.
TO MAKE HISTORY AND LET OTHERS WRITE ABOUT IT
by Imanol S. Ruiz
Inspired by a true story: a priest reflects on his history with a pupil whose name the world would one day know.
Next, the Top Ten Plays of 2020 will be entered into competition with the Top Ten Play of 2019 for a chance at production or public reading by MCT and Milwaukee’s emerging and established theatre artists during the 2020/21 season. Being selected as a Top Ten Play is an incredible honor and Catie shares this early success creates confidence and motivation within CRJ students.
The theater program under Catie’s guidance has resulted in tremendous success at CRJ. Students of all grade levels have the opportunity to work with theatre professionals and attend shows in Milwaukee. This has even led to some CRJ students considering a profession in the arts and arts education.
During virtual learning this spring, Catie turned the focus from traditional theater to more film-based techniques. Inspired by Hamilton, students wrote and filmed themselves performing an original song or poem based on the Revolutionary War. Upperclassmen created movie monologues and captured their work using creative shots. Although the format has changed, students will continue to hone their skills and use performing arts to aid them in many aspects that reach beyond the stage including creative thinking and writing, quick-thinking through improvisation, empathy, and working together to achieve a common goal.
We wish Sophia and Imanol the very best of luck as they advance to the next round of the MCT Young Playwrights Competition later this summer.
Please donate today to support the Cristo Rey mission and ensure area students continue to experience performing arts that inspire and enrich themselves and the community.