“YPT helped me feel confident about myself and confident in my ability to write and to speak in public.”
Branaya Reese Brown is a 12-year-old student with a boundless imagination and who gushes with a love for animals. As the 2017 New Play Festival approaches, we took a moment to reconnect with Branaya, who was a featured and published playwright in the 2016 New Play Festival. Her play Mr. Rawr and the Kitty was among fifteen plays that were professionally produced as part of YPT’s annual festival.
“Having my play produced was fun and interesting,” says Branaya. “I learned about writing plays and how the process works, and I enjoyed it. I was a bit worried how it would turn out, but lots of people liked it!”
Mr. Rawr and the Kitty told the tale of a kitty trying to help a bear find food, but must face Mr. Rawr the crocodile, who doesn’t want anything being taken from the pond where he lives. It was a smashing success at the festival last year. One of the things that made Branaya’s play stand out was that her characters had no formal dialogue!
“The writing process was not like normal writing because I wrote my entire play in animal sounds—no words,” says Branaya. “I started the process with a drawing of the animals in my play. I described the drawing using sounds that the animals make.”
Branaya is an alumnus of Young Playwrights’ Theater’s In-School Playwriting Program and wrote her play Mr. Rawr and the Kitty while she was a student at Watkins Elementary School. “My fondest and most remembered memory with YPT was designing and tweaking my play, which gave me a chance to talk and connect with the actors. I also loved watching it all play out on stage.”
Before the program, Branaya had never written plays before and never considered herself a writer, but now she uses what she learned in the program in her home school studies as well as her creative endeavors. She connects her love for drawing with writing by narrating her comics. Branaya was gracious enough to share one of her comics! Pictured here: “Hop is on the lookout. Next, to his right, Woof makes a hole. Flap soars overhead, while Kitty is looking at someone…”
“YPT helped me feel confident about myself and confident in my ability to write and to speak in public,” explains Branaya. “Although I am home-schooled now, it still benefits me in my schoolwork and in my life.”
When asked if she had any advice for future young playwrights, Branaya said, “Try to picture your play as a drawing or animation. It may help you shape your play.”
In the future, Branaya wants to foster her love for animals and study to become a veterinarian and get her Ph.D. Her favorite animal is the ever useful and lovable llama! We wish Branaya continued success, whether it be with her writing, drawing or as a veterinarian!
To learn more about the New Play Festival, visit tinyurl.com/NPF17.