Promising Playwright, May 2013
Jeba Chemeda is a second grader at Harriet Tubman Elementary School and a participant in YPT's After-School Playwriting Program. Through a Proving What's Possible Grant, YPT is partnering with Harriet Tubman to provide a year-long after-school program for first and second graders called SoJam. Students in SoJam build literacy and artistic skills through workshops in playwriting as well as acting, photography, poetry and visual art, all taught by YPT teaching artists.
In school, Jeba loves "reading, math and writing because we get to make up stories and use our imaginations. And when I read stories, they give me ideas so when I grow up I can be like Marc Brown [author of the Arthur series] and other writers." In his free time, he says, "I like to help people."
Jeba is currently in the playwriting class and has already participated in workshops in each of the other art forms. "At SoJam I get to do writing, art, photography and acting," he says, "so I can learn new things and do things I've never done before!"
Jeba has "a lot of favorite parts" of the playwriting workshops. "I like when we get to act out new plays, hear plays we've never heard before and play new games. I also like when we get to illustrate and write new things."
Before starting YPT's After-School Playwriting Program, Jeba had already written two stories, a nonfiction story and a fiction story about a very hungry alien's quest to take a spaceship to the other side of the moon. He is very enthusiastic about writing his first play, which is about a superhero named "Mighty Man" who loves to "chillax," has the power to be invisible and must defeat a villain named "Favorite Fractions." Jeba was inspired to create the villain character because he is learning about fractions in math class and wanted to incorporate them into his play.
"I like using my imagination to come up with different kinds of characters and bring them to life," he says when asked his favorite thing about writing his play. "I feel like they are real. I think writing is fun because other people can read what I write."
When Jeba grows up, he says, "I want to be a writer and I will do something to change the world."
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