On the Ground - The Power of Words on Pages

Njoli Brown
Njoli Brown


We're so lucky to have this special input from Stacy. One of things that seems particularly inspiring in this write-up is his willingness and courageousness in finding and engaging in a collaborative opportunity. One of the most empowering things for students can be the recognition that there are resources and partners available to support our new and sometimes unorthodox endeavors. - Njoli Brown

By Stacy Davidowitz

Upon meeting my Drama students at Long Island City High School, I was instantly impressed by their creativity, talent, and open mindedness. As expected, some joined the class because of their love for performing, however, the reasons for participation run the gamut. Some are drawn to improvisation, some love singing, some are dancers, and others are interested in just trying something new. What’s clear is that these students are uniformly in search for an after school family.

With our “rose-thorn-rose” check-ins and our long form improvisation becoming more and more personal, plus seeing that the students express themselves so articulately on stage and in conversation, I wanted to give them another outlet: Playwriting.

In December, Naked Angels Theater Company joined with Long Island City High School through The Leadership Program for a free three-session writing intensive, over the course of three weeks. The blurb below is Naked Angels’ summary of the program.

“The 3T (standing for “three times”) Naked Angels program is a fun, relaxed, encouraging forum where students can boldly and freely express themselves through writing, especially playwriting, and hear their work performed by professional actresses and their peers. Students collaborate with their peers and theater professionals, gaining confidence, courage, and inspiration. Meeting their deadlines and bravely putting their work on stage, the students discover the power of their hard work and creativity.”

The collaboration was overwhelmingly successful. The presentation included a poem about a student’s journey overcoming his shyness; a series of monologues from the perspectives of Greek Goddess/God lovers; a slapstick comedy about a movie director; a scene between a teacher and a student activist fighting to keep his school open; a play about the psychological aftermath of a murderer; and a mystical parable with the likeness of Doctor Faustus. The material was out of this world.

The students put so much heart, energy, and passion into their work, and the results were thoughtful, complex, and incredibly smart. One of my students was so proud of her piece, she told me she submitted it to her principal, whereas another student of mine told me she’s been inspired to write a collection of short stories for online publication.

I am proud to be teaching a group of students who embraced an opportunity to express themselves through dramatic writing by pouring their whole beings into the process. They’ve empowered themselves, and have, without a doubt, empowered me. We’ve all found a family where we can aim high, surpass expectations, and thrive as our truest selves.

Here’s to 2014!

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Njoli Brown

By Njoli Brown

Njoli Brown is a comprehensive education consultant. He uses art, athletics, literature, interactive activities and pointed processing to create programs which engage students and educators from varied backgrounds in expansive learning processes. Through an array of both domestic and international work, Njoli has been able to accrue experience with numerous teaching methodologies and so, creates environments which feel collaborative, fun and practical. As a writer of curriculum for programs ranging from conflict transformation to young men's mentorship, classroom management to effective teambuilding, Njoli has a firm grasp on capacity building for facilitators, teachers, managers and project/program coordinators. He continues to write about art, education, travel and equity on his public forum: http://www.papernopaper.com