"Once you get to know the people here, they’re really nice and caring, and they’ve got your back."
Max Leathers can’t wait to begin his second year in the after-school Young Playwrights’ Workshop. Last year, he collaborated with other high school students in the Workshop to write, rehearse and perform an original play in the 2013 Source Festival. The Workshop is the only YPT program in which students both write and perform their own original work.
Max grew up knowing about the Workshop. His older sister, Madison, was a Workshop member and a Promising Playwright when she was in high school. She is now a sophomore at Sewanee: The University of the South, where she participates in several student organizations, including a campus dance group. Max knew of his sister’s great experience but wasn’t old enough to join the Workshop until last year, when he started eighth grade and became the ensemble’s youngest member.
When asked about the themes in his writing, he says, "I think one of my messages was to go to college." He explains that many of his classmates are striving to go to college, and his school takes the support for college and scholarship applications very seriously. He wanted to share this perspective, so when he created the character that he would both write and act out in the Workshop final performance, he chose to play a high school senior who ultimately earned a full scholarship to Ohio State. An ambitious freshman at Capital City Public Charter School, Max is already researching his own scholarship opportunities with the help of a college mentor. He hopes to major in history or architecture when he goes to college.
Max didn’t know anyone in the Workshop when he started, but he quickly impressed everyone with his wit and creativity. "I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the program and just the people in general," he explains. "It was really fun talking to the people that I was in the program with, and being able to put my feelings down on paper." He also liked the acting, which was "a little scary and nerve-wracking" but he says that everything fell into place in time for the final performance.
This year, he is excited to be signed up for an acting class at Capital City Public Charter School. He explains that he looks forward to developing his acting skills, "so hopefully when I come back this year I’ll have a lot more to add to YPT." He encourages other students to participate in the Workshop, even if they don’t know other students who already participate. He wants to tell potential Workshop participants, "Once you get to know the people here, they’re really nice and caring, and they’ve got your back."
Last year, Max made his stage debut in the Workshop’s final performance at the Source Festival. During the talkback after the performance, Max shared that he learned a lot from the older Workshop students and from the very responsible, goal-oriented character he created for the play. "I think this experience has taught me about maturity," he told the audience. "I started thinking about how there’s a lot more responsibility - gotta start taking that trash out, washing those dishes, walking those dogs a lot more - so that really went through my mind." Max had some big fans in the audience cheering him on that night. His mom and sister, Madison, were thrilled to see him on stage - and just as excited to hear his new-found commitment to his chores.
For more Promising Playwrights click here.