Play, Writing: Bringing the Page to the Stage by Carol Cabrera, High Tech High North County (HTH Foundation) verified non-profit

This Cause Has Ended
Launched Apr 22, 2014
Ends May 30, 2014
This Cause Has Ended
Category: Drama
Class Size: 50
Grade: 9th 

My students have been watching theatre all year. We've read Romeo & Juliet and seen a rock musical version of it. We've read Julia Alvarez' In the Time of the Butterflies and watched the stage version at the San Diego Repertory. My students have designed costumes and created wonderful sketches. My students have designed sets and built mini-models. My students have read theatre, analyzed theatre, appreciated theatre. And now, I want to give them the opportunity to CREATE theatre--with all its elements--in a meaningful, powerful way. I want to move away from just the sketches and just the mini-models--I want their theatre, their words to come to life, in full size. 

I am a firm believer that writing is powerful. And a way that I can get students to believe this too is by helping them bring their work to life. Below is my project description along with a budget breakdown in the Roles & Budget Breakdown section. 


The Playwright’s Project
Carol Cabrera, 9th Grade Humanities

Driving Questions:

How can we connect with our humanity, and convey it honestly in writing?

How can we work together to create honest pieces of theatre that can change a room of strangers into a connected groups with an authentic, shared experience?

Anchor Texts:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Final Products:


-Each student will create a notebook of free-writing and brainstorming inspired by Oulipan activities and Peter Elbow theories of creating writing.

-Each student will create and revise a one act play. Each student will submit their one act play for feedback from theatre professionals through the CA Playwright’s Project, submitting their pieces for possible professional production in the 2015 Festival of CA Playwright’s Project Plays:


Students will work together to build an evening of theatre to be presented to the community.

Out of the 50 plays that are written in our class, we will read and analyze and work together to choose 5-10 pieces to produce together as a class (depending on length of pieces).

Roles & Budget Breakdown

Roles that will be available for the second aspect of the project:

*Directors ~Run by students/no funds needed

*Playwrights (if a playwright’s work is chosen, they will be given chances to edit their work as it is being created by the director and actors)~Run by students/no funds needed

*Actors~Run by students/no funds needed

*Scenic Design and Construction~Student Run $1200 for scenic elements/designs for all plays

*Costume Design and Construction~Student Run $600 for fabric/second hand purchases for all plays 

*Lighting Design and Construction~California State University Technician Run $55/hour  for 8 hours + tip for student workers $520

*Sound Design and Board Operation~Student Run $20 for iTunes purchases

*Stage Managers/Marketing/Production~Student Run $300 for postcards/mailing/posters/pens & other stage management material/color versions of program/etc.  

Important Dates:

Project Launch: April 24th

Scene 1 Due: May 1st & 2nd (read alouds in class)

Scene 2 Due: May 6th & 7th (read alouds in class)

Complete One Act Play Due: May 9th

Revised One Act Play Due/Cover Letter/Entry Form: May 12th (& submitted to contest

Auditions for Plays: May 15th

Plays/Cast/Production Teams Announced/Notebook Due: May 16th

Exhibition/Shows: June 9th & 10th


Two different showcases of student work (Showcase A- June 9th, Showcase B- June 10th) 


If we do not meet our goal...

If we don't reach our entire goal we will do with what we've got. The least amount of money needed to pull this off is around $600 so that we can at least get into a theatre space and use professional lighting/sound equipment at California State University San Marcos. An aspect of my school that is difficult is that it was built without a theatre space at all. If we can't even get to $600, my students will still be doing Aspect 1 of the project and writing and submitting their work to the California Playwright's Project. 

Carol Cabrera

Humanities Teacher, High Tech High North County (HTH Foundation)

My name is Carol Cabrera. I am a singer-songwriter, an actress, a director, a playwright, an avid reader, a lover of comic books, but at heart, I'm a teacher and I always will be. I am in my first year teaching at High Tech High North County, in my second year as a project based learning teacher, in my third year as a full time teacher, and in my fifth year as a classroom teacher. I am extremely interested in the creation aspect of education. I seek to blend the real world into the world of my classroom, to extend my walls so they don't end at the square footage marked Room 129. I seek to explore the vast terrain of our universe with my students, but at the same time, I'm curious about what happens when we ask students to isolate their thoughts, and see what they can create from the vast amount of wonder that exists in their own heads. I am most interested in creative writing, and in how that writing can be brought to life, so playwriting and theatre is a natural fit for my interests.

High Tech High North County (HTH Foundation) View All Causes

San Diego, California

High Tech High North County (HTHNC) is a public charter school which draws upon the diversity of the San Diego North County region through a random lottery acceptance system. The goal of High Tech High North County is to offer a college preparatory, project-based learning environment to 9-12 grade students. We also aim to inspire students to become civic leaders through real-world, authentic learning experiences.

Thank You: A Summer Later, the Project Lingers...

September 24, 2014

Hello Everyone!

Thank you so much for all the amazing support. My students successfully put up two showcases of original theatre at a professionally built theatre in San Marcos, California. With the funds, we were able to hire a lighting designer for professional lighting. The rest of it was student run--production, board operation, costume design, etc. My favorite part of this project was seeing my students come together as a group. Now that the new school year has started, I still have students coming back to me, jabbing at me with inside jokes from this project. They all have these shared, beautiful memories. 

This is a piece by Johana Guatemala, starring Sol Manuel Garza and Alejandra Sandoval. It's about a girl in a coma, in between heaven and earth. With the help of her grandfather, she must decide which direction to walk in. 


This is a piece called Friends Forever by Aaron Nguyen. A nerdy middle schooler kid wants to be cool to impress a girl... even if it means getting rid of his imaginary best friend. 

This is a piece called Bear Knuckles- a comedy about a bear who needs to box a lumberjack in order to get the deed to his cave back. 

This is a piece called Lockdown, set in a classroom in a school under Lockdown, where three teenagers realize how cruel they have perhaps unintentionally been... 

Again, all these productions were student directed, student acted, student designed (except lighting). I think all that is impressive enough, but probably my favorite part is that they were all student WRITTEN. 13-14 year olds WROTE these pieces. Thank YOU for helping them bring it to life.

Love Always,

Carol Cabrera

Miriam Kaplan
Rekeshia Parker
Christina Mastor
Luka Druks
Elenita Cabrera
Wensday Schroeder
Debi Cloes
monica mcguiness
Traci Bailey
Lisabeth Silverman
Patricia A Diaz
Hayden Sloan
Norine Hainline
Eileen Lawal

Traci Bailey May 21, 2014

Thanks for being AWESOME Carol! I can't wait to see what these amazing kids create!

Monica McGuiness May 21, 2014

Natasha loves going to school. I had to drag her out when the fires were raging last week. They are so inspired by you. thank you so much for all your dedication.

Cabrera Family May 16, 2014

There is so much value in the arts in relation to education. Thank you for pushing it despite the financial burden attached to it"

Miriam April 23, 2014

You are an incredible educator! I am so excited to help you and your students!

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