Young Playwrights' Theater inspires young people to realize the power of their own voices.

Gwen Straker

Promising Playwright, July 2014

When you ask most eight year-olds what they want to be when they grow up, they will likely give you a range of answers: actor, singer, athlete, astronaut. Gwen Straker is not most eight year-olds. "I want to be an author," she says.


The incoming third grader at G.E. Peters Adventist School is well on her way to fulfilling that dream. Currently studying playwriting with YPT at the school's summer camp, Gwen is also taking art, dance and architecture. Her artistic interests seem driven by a desire to understand and document the world: in her free time, Gwen sketches what she sees and writes stories about the things that matter to her. Her ultimate goal, in fact, is not simply to be an author, but a biographer. "I would write biographies of my friends," she says. Which ones? "All of them!"


Gwen's infectious curiosity translates into the classroom as well. Her favorite subject is Science, and her eyes light up as she describes the different experiments she has been able to do. "I made clouds before," she says, "You get a container, you put some cold ice and water in there, you put a clear lid on top of it and fog comes on the lid." 


Though she has not yet started working on her YPT play, she knows that she wants it to be about "life in the big city" - a subject she clearly turns a keen eye to in her drawing and writing. 


In the meantime, Gwen is having fun acting and writing scenes with the other second and third graders in G.E. Peters' summer camp. For a recent dialogue exercise, she and classmate Siani were given two characters and asked to create a conflict between them. "I had an old man with a white beard and some white hair, and Siani didn't like the old man's beard, so we were fighting about stuff." When asked who won, she doesn't hesitate. "Me!"


We think that Gwen - like all of our young playwrights - is a winner, too. We can't wait to see how her play turns out, and will watch the New York Times bestseller list for her debut biography!