Professional actors present plays written by students

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In celebration of Indigenous People’s Day on Oct. 8, the community is invited to a special presentation at the Kroc Center by a group of professional film, stage and television actors who will be performing 10 plays written by area youths from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

The free event is from 6 to 8 p.m. and is a culmination of playwriting workshops that were presented to students in August by the Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (MAPP).

MAPP, founded in 2003 by Tom Kellogg, a Post Falls High School graduate, works within marginalized communities to connect kids with artist mentors to foster youth empowerment and education of creative processes, and to open dialogue on what is important to young people.

The middle school aged children created a short, single-act play. Each play has two characters, and students learned the process of working “in metaphor.”

“The process itself is developed to work around dramatic storytelling and conflicts,” Kellogg said, “but all of the characters they create come out of this process, and they focus in on what their characters want, and what the conflicts will be,” which he calls their “greatest wish.”

He describes the process of working in metaphor with a metaphorical quip, “Imagine a Pixar movie, but written by young people, showcasing their own dreams and aspirations.”

Kellogg will be working with eight mentor actors for the event. They are Elizabeth Frances, who plays Prairie Flower alongside Pierce Brosnan in AMC’s “The Son;” Valente Rodriguez, who played Ernie on “The George Lopez Show;” Miles Villanueva, who played Lyle Menendez in “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders;” Zilah Mendoza, who has played in roles on shows like “King of Queens,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “ER;” and Sarah Hennessey, a published poet and actress in “Heart of the Monster.”

Kellogg also explained that all of the actors come from Native heritages and from communities much like the students’ own, compounding on the theme of mentorship.

“Many people who have come [to the presentation], and especially when we come back into a community, we’ve had people and even the elders talking about it, and they say this is healing for all of us because we get to hear our young people and we get to hear what their concerns are,” Kellogg said.

For information about MAPP, visit www.mentorartists.com.

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