"Bathroom Monster, Weed Dealer, and Beth" - An original children's play at Clarion
Let me tell you a story of how three Asian American kids got to write and develop their own play, let alone make it about monsters and weed!
On May 14th and 15th of 2022, Clarion premiered an original children's play "Bathroom Monster, Weed Dealer, and Beth". This play was developed by Clarion's Theater Program students Nola Jesenko, Margaret Chan, and Joyce Tang.
Starting January 2022, these three students have been taking Clarion's Advanced Theater classes. Throughout the program, the instructors Clara Hsu and Enkhtsatsralt Enkhjargal (also known as Tsatsa) guided them through creative processes in which the students learned how to masterfully engage with theater arts.
Tsatsa taught them the fundamental aspects of theater such as perception, active listening, body movement, voice projection, character building, stage presence, and improv theater techniques. Clara taught them the importance of script reading, character enactment, and clear diction.
After many months of training and learning, the students were ready and ripe for writing and creating their own play.
So in March 2022, Tsatsa and Clara encouraged the kids to develop their own play. And the objective of doing so, the students were told, will be to explore their inner creative voices.
The students came up with one scene first. The scene where two friends come up on stage and talk about sneaking into school building because it's summer break! Then we came up with a plot device to move the plot forward. In this case, it was weed! The two friends were meeting a third character to buy weed from them.
Just like this, little by little, the students built the play one scene at a time!
One of the most important aspect of the play is that it has complex characters who are motivated internally in multi-dimensional way. Beth, Bathroom Monster and Weed Dealer- all three of them have something inside them that drives their action.
And the play's most interesting scene comes about when all three characters are inter tangled in a situation where one character's motif would conflict with other characters' motif. So how do you resolve that issue? is the question we posed to the audience.
The students and the instructors talked for a very long time, over many days, to define the characters and find their motivations. We gave them each a detailed background and really flush out why the Weed Dealer sells weed, why Beth acts the way she does and why the Bathroom Monster acts like a monster.
This helped the kids tremendously in enacting their characters on stage. They were able to move, make gestures, laugh and talk exactly like their characters on script.
The outcome of this whole process was a 25-minutes long original children's play that is boundary-pushing and yet grounded on real-life topics like friendship and morality.
On the premiere day, the audience loved the play! They expressed their adoration of the child actors. Some of the audience members pointed out that Chinatown has not had a children's play in a long time that allowed children to explore and create as freely as this play.
We thank Clarion Performing Arts Center and its donors. We thank the parents of the students for being supportive throughout the process. We thank the Chinatown community for coming out and seeing our play in person. We thank Nola Jesenko, Joyce Tang, and Margaret Chan for developing and acting in this play. We thank Clara Hsu and Enkhtsatsralt Enkhjargal for directing and guiding the production process. We thank Serai Yan and Wangyuxuan Xu for handling sound-board and videography.