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Teen Playwrights Seize The Spotlight With 1-Act Plays Pulled Together Just 12 Hours Before Showtime

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Dozens of New York City high school students from every borough are taking part in a challenging theatrical experiment.

They must write, mount and star in a series of one act plays to share their experiences with the world with an extremely tight deadline for getting it done.

A life in the spotlight is a dream coming true for Kensington's Elle Souffrant.

"So this being a starting point for me is really fun," Souffrant said.

CBS2's Dave Carlin interviewed the 15-year-old backstage at Brooklyn's Irondale center, where she's in its Young Company as a writer and performer, getting ready for her biggest theatrical challenge.

Souffrant is in a group of 50 teenagers creating five one-act plays, getting pulled together and performed with only 12 hours of lead time on Saturday.

"Students are learning incredible life skills," said Irondale Ensemble Project Director of Education Rima Dodd. "Makes them better communicators in their lives whether or not they pursue the arts as a career."

Irondale is partnering with SheNYC arts CreateHER program.

"They're writing about the current times, about being in the pandemic and what it means to be a teenager," said CreateHER cofounder Shira Wolf.

The kids participate for free in this fast festival.

It was meant to happen on stage in Fort Greene. Then the surge of the Omicron variant pushed all of it to digital.

"Being able to do it at all is really nice," Souffrant said.

So now each 15-minute play puts performers in Zoom boxes, but they say it does not limit them. Music, changing backgrounds and effects are added as they explore issues facing the young people of New York City.

"I am really serious about playwriting and acting," said Amaya Adu, 17.

Adu, of Rosedale, Queens, came to the project as a member of CreateHER.

"Being able to be a part of those different experiences is something really special and really important to me," Adu said. "It is pieces of you in it, like you can't escape that."

These young people are excited to take this project to the next level from virtual performances back to the stage.

The program should land back at the space at Irondale as early as spring. The young creatives are glad they won't have to wait to meet the extreme deadline, put pen to paper, rehearse and stream - with no time to overthink it. These teens get to prove their time to shine is right now.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

To watch Saturday night's performance, CLICK HERE.

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