By Ethan Brunton
2014-15 Paula Vogel Mentors Project Fellow
My name is Ethan Brunton. I’m an intermediate playwright and cartoonist. I started getting involved with Philadelphia Young Playwrights through their collaboration with Theatre Horizon, “Playwrighting and the Art of Storytelling”. It was a scriptwriting class for young adult Autistics and I got really invested into it. My first script wasn’t all that great but the second one, “Let’s Fly A Plane” got special attention. People loved it. I got to participate in Write On! and another festival in New Jersey (we had breakfast there). Eventually the announcement of the Paula Vogel Mentorship Program fell into my hands. I thought about it. Then I figured it would be a fun experience. And fun it was. I’ve been asked a few questions by one of my teachers, MR Stine, so here are my answers.
MR: What did you learn from the PVMP?
Ethan: Don’t be afraid to write what you love.
MR: What were your expectations when you started?
Ethan: To revamp my Waffle story, which is about an alien confectionary befriending a humanoid child with a fluctuating palette of super powers. I’ve written three scripts but I am still trying to write a consistent story within that universe. Everybody noticed the potential in it and I still want to make sure it exceeds those expectations.
MR: How did you change from the beginning to the end of the PVMP?
Ethan: As the Mentorship was about to begin, I met my mentor, P. Seth Bauer, and showed him some drawings I made so we could talk about them. The first ones he saw were face designs I made of the Greek Gods. We had fun talking about them again and again. Eventually we decided it would be fun to write an adaptation of one of the myths. So from there, I wrote a script that centered around Hades and Persephone. But I finished it sooner than expected. So, my mentor asked what other god I’d like to write about next. I chose Athena. Before I started, I didn’t know how to write female characters properly. Sometimes, I worried that I couldn’t write them with relatable or believable voices. The writing is a good opportunity to metaphorically punch some misogynists in the face. It made me want to do more of those kind of stories because I feel like I’ve only touched the surface with all the characters in mind, especially the gods. Every region of ancient Greece had their own interpretations of each myth, so there’s a lot of interesting ways to interpret each god’s personality. There’s just so much fun to be had.
MR: How was your writing style affected by PVMP?
Ethan: I came to understand the sense of conflict. I’ve also been given an opportunity to understand what purpose each character has. I still try to find ways to make most of them funny.
The Paula Vogel Mentor Project helped me learn not to be afraid to speak my mind. The imagination is a powerful tool and I’m glad I have it at my disposal. Sure, I’m slow sometimes but as long as I’m confident with my work I shall never worry.
"As long as I’m confident with my work I shall never worry."
Saturday, March 1st was the culminating performance for our collaboration with Theatre Horizon serving young adults in the autism spectrum. The classes helped students develop social skills, verbal expression, empathy for others, and a sense of self worth and accomplishment.
“I was touched to see how skilled your teachers are at working with this population. PYP is an inspiration, and a Philadelphia treasure.” -Erin Reilly, Artistic Director/Theatre Horizon
Tiny Toons: The Last Day of School by Alex Faker
This is a writing workshop for adults with autism. Actors with Theatre Horizon and teachers with Philadelphia Young Playwrights are working together with seven students to write short, one-act plays.
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Program for young playwrights broadens horizons of students with autism
By Mindy Toran
Correspondent- Montgomery News
Young adults with autism spectrum disorders who are interested in the theater and playwriting have a new outlet for their creativity, thanks to a new collaborative program offered by Theatre Horizon of Norristown, Pa., and Philadelphia Young Playwrights. In February, as part of its Autism Drama Outreach program, Theatre Horizon began hosting an Introduction to Playwriting program for students age 17 to 30 with autism. The program was made possible with funding from the June and Steve Wolfson Family Foundation, which provides support for the arts in Philadelphia.
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