"I like to be funny," Aayanna Collier says with a grin. "I love to make up songs. I wrote a song about how awesome I am."
It only takes a few minutes sitting opposite the fourth grade student, at a small desk in Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, to tell that she is a natural entertainer. She sits poised on the edge of her seat as if ready to spring into action, and her brown eyes light up as she talks about wanting to be an actress when she grows up and how Beyoncé is her hero. But her strongest talent seems to be creating her own material.
While Aayanna spends much of her free time writing songs, she also loves creating stories, both for school and on her own. "I like to write stories, and sometimes poems," she says. "In class, I wrote this huge story about a slave and how she’s trying to be free because that’s what our semester was about. But I write other stories, too. Like I wrote a story for my uncle. It was about how cool he is."
In addition to her love of writing, Aayanna also brought an impressive amount of theater experience to YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program when YPT came to Stokes last fall. Aayanna was first introduced to the arts when she was six years old and attending a summer theater camp in Atlanta, Georgia. "I did Annie, The Wiz, High School Musical, and a play for the tribute of Michael Jackson," she says proudly.
With such extensive experience, it’s no surprise that Aayanna quickly excelled at playwriting with the help of her YPT teaching artist. At the end of the twelve week In-School Program, she had completed The Book and the Restless, a hilarious and innovative play that features Benny the Book’s desperate quest to save his girlfriend Annie the Almanac from the evil Perry the Pop Up Book. Benny’s one weakness? Bacon.
"Since I really like books, I thought it would be cool if they came to life," Aayanna explains. Then she adds emphatically, "Plus, bacon is my favorite food. I love bacon!"
Join us in celebrating Aayanna and her play,The Book and the Restless, at YPT’s New Play Festival on April 23, at 7:30 PM.
For more Promising Playwrights click here.