Project Title: Theatre for Young Audiences Play Development

Faculty Sponsor: Andrew Morton

Department: Theatre and Dance



Project Description: 

The Theatre for Young Audiences Play Development project is an opportunity for me to advance my career as a TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) playwright and contribute to this important field by researching and developing a new script inspired by the use of Superhero and Comic Book Therapy with young people living in care. 

The approach to the project is straightforward. With the support of an Undergraduate Research Assistant, at the start of the spring semester I will begin researching the growing trend of using superhero and comic book characters as part of a psychological treatment for young people living in care who have experienced abuse and/or trauma. The preliminary research will include reviewing already existing literature documenting this practice, and conducting interviews with nationally recognized experts in this field, local experts at the Whaley Children’s Center, and colleagues from other departments at UM-Flint (Social Work, Psychology, etc). Once the preliminary research is completed, the material gathered will help inspire the fictional story of the play. During July and August, I will develop an initial draft of the script, and share aspects of the “work in progress” at a national convening for TYA professionals. Once a first draft of the script is completed, the play will then go through a development workshop at Flint Youth Theatre, where I am currently employed as Artist-in-Residence. I will then seek other funding opportunities for continued development of the play, before submitting it to Flint Youth Theatre for a fully realized production. Finally, the script will be submitted to Dramatic Publishing, Inc. (one of the leading publishers of TYA plays) for consideration for publication.

As I have previously been nationally recognized for my contributions to the TYA field, this is an excellent opportunity to build upon connections I have formed with both national TYA organizations and individuals, and local arts organizations and social service organizations.  Additionally, it will allow me to represent both Flint’s growing artistic community and UM-Flint on a national level, and contribute directly to the TYA field at large. Finally, this project will provide me the opportunity to contribute to the quality of life of many Flint citizens, and continue to support Flint’s growing creative economy. 

Student Tasks & Responsibilities: The undergraduate research assistant will work alongside me to indentify and gather material during the preliminary research phase and will also be responsible for identifying potential interviewees, and transcribing recorded conversations. Once I begin writing the script, the student will also be asked to review and proofread individual scenes. 

Minimum Student Qualifications: Theatre experience, an interest/knowledge of comic books/superheroes.