This story was republished with permission from The Buckeye Flame
A new theatre education program is coming to Cleveland and this one is targeted specifically to LGBTQ+ youth in the area.
This free after-school writing and acting workshop will give LGBTQ+ youth ages 15 to 20 the opportunity to share their work and see it performed by other young actors. Writers will bring up to 12 pages of new written work including traditional theatre scripts, screenplays, monologues and spoken word. Actors who attend the event will be cast on the spot to perform in front of an audience, open mic style. Attendees will then give constructive feedback to the writers and the actors to aid in the development of the actors and writers, as well as their work.
Herman and Munnell were in talks with leaders of Studio West 117, an entertainment hub for the LGBTQ+ community that’s currently under construction, and wanted to determine a way to bring a theatre arm to the project.
Herman has worked with writers for about 20 years now to help them develop their work. She also runs a similar program for adult writers at the Cleveland Public Theatre and when she realized there wasn’t a similar program available to young writers, it led to the idea of The Text Kitchen. The program is being funded through a grant from The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation and the West 117 Foundation.
Although The Text Kitchen is geared toward LGBTQ+ youth, any writer or actor aged 15 to 20 is welcome to attend the workshop.
“It’s a growth opportunity for actors as well as writers, because actors will just be given a script cold and have to perform it, which is how you audition most of the time, but it’s super low stakes,” Herman said.
Herman said the ultimate goal with the program is to work with young writers to strengthen their writing skills, build their confidence, and get their work to a point where it’s performance ready.
“For performers and writers as well, to believe in their work and to give them a safe space to hear their work read by actors, that’s a pretty difficult thing to do on your own,” Herman said. That’s where The Text Kitchen comes in, to provide the space, resources and professional feedback needed to keep improving their work.
“I think it’s going to be a fun event,” Herman said. “There’s an education element obviously, but we’re really hoping to build community outside of school.”
The Text Kitchen will be held the third Tuesday of every month and is quickly approaching its launch date on Jan. 18. In the lead up to the launch, Herman has been working with other local groups and schools to help spread the word about the program.
“In a couple of months we’re going to start bringing in some well-regarded and published authors to speak to [the attendees] and give a little mini presentation and feedback on their work as well,” she said.
For this first month, they’ll be doing a sort of soft launch of the program. While the event will still take place in person, due to rising Covid-19 concerns Herman doesn’t want to bring in too many extra people initially and will just keep this first event to the young writers and actors who attend.
The Text Kitchen will be at The Mansion at Studio West at 11210 Detroit Avenue and is planned to run until June. Then they’ll take July and August off and, if the program was well-received, they’ll return in September.
Ultimately, the program is pretty informal, Herman said. There’s no need to register prior to the event. It will run from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and while Herman said there will be some structure to what they do with their time together, really they’re just hoping that through The Text Kitchen they can connect artists with one another in a safe, inclusive space.
“I just think that there’s a bit of a hole in Cleveland’s artistic communities for LGBTQ+ young adults,” Herman said. “I think this will hopefully help give them an outlet.”
The Text Kitchen will be held on Tuesdays from 4:30-6:30pm at The Mansion on 11210 Detroit Avenue beginnign on Tuesday, January 18. For more information, check their website.
Maria McGinnis is a recent graduate of Kent State University where she studied journalism and minored in advertising and psychology. She is now working as a freelance writer and editor. In her free time when she’s not typing away on her laptop, Maria enjoys spending time with her friends and family, baking, yoga, discovering new music and thrift shopping.