Circle Circle dot dot Theatre Company, a local theatre company in San Diego, went online right as quarantine hit the state of California, asking for scenes written inspired by people’s quarantine experiences. Inspired by this project, 9th grade Humanities students wrote playwriting scenes in response to their own experiences of quarantine. Some students wrote comedies, some wrote tragedies, some wrote sci-fi scenes that questioned what life might look like once we emerge from this shared experience as a planet. Students read one another’s scenes out loud in class, connecting through the art of theatre and storytelling from our different physical locations.
Students all had a way to get into the writing since they were to be inspired by what they were living in that moment: quarantine. There was so much student voice and choice throughout this project and it was exciting to see the unique ways that students were expressing themselves and their stories.
As a playwright myself, I have used the writing of fiction and the mode of theatre to work through my own thoughts about the complex times that we are living through. I was featured by Circle Circle dot dot a few times throughout the spring during their series of online plays, and to hear my stories out loud and to share those stories with a larger community was incredibly powerful and healing for me and my own life. To watch my students read one another’s plays out loud, laugh at one another’s jokes, and drop sad faces into the chat when something sad happened in a scene, was incredible, and felt like such an empathy-building exercise for our team as a whole. It was also the first thing that we did in distance learning, to write scenes and read them out loud together, so we were all learning together to navigate a whole new way of learning, and the students were so incredibly thoughtful as we braved something brand new together. Their scenes were incredible and it was so lovely to see their different voices shine!