Yesterday's post was dedicated to the nearly 100 McCall-Donnelly High School Playwrights we've worked with over the past 20 years, so it seemed only fitting that today we'd honor Judy Anderson and Audrey Swanson, the two amazing drama teachers who have kept this partnership alive and thriving!
In 2001, the intrepid Judy Anderson was already teaching the only High School playwriting class in Idaho, so the partnership with Seven Devils seemed like a perfect match. Working with Judy, we designed a program that would give those drama students with a particular interest in writing and a strong work ethic, the opportunity to actively develop the plays they'd been writing in class with a professional director and mentor and a cast made up of professional, student and local actors.
From the beginning, Judy made it clear to the students that participating in Seven Devils wasn't a prize for good classwork, it was an opportunity to do more work with professionals who expected you to show up on time and ready to go. She challenged students to dig deep and write about the things that mattered to them. For the community, the student plays quickly became a window to students' dreams, fears, ambitions and concerns. The talkbacks following student plays fueled exciting and sometimes surprising cross-generational discussion.
When Judy retired in 2014, we didn't quite know what to do. Judy not only taught a kick-ass playwriting class, she also cast student actors and helped to sort out scheduling for students, many of whom had jobs (and all this nearly always during finals week!)
Imagine our joy when Audrey Swanson stepped onto the scene! She jumped into the Conference feet first, and with some support from long-time Devil Amy Rush, got the students up to speed and in a new and exciting groove. One of the amazing and unexpected gifts of this moment was the opportunity to revisit the program as a whole and figure out how to find a path forward that matched Audrey's teaching style and sensibility.
We were thrilled to find exciting new ways to work with Audrey when the pandemic shut down McCall-Donnelly High School in the spring.
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