Danny Rothschild, an Academy senior and creative writing major was one of ten winners in the 2010 Young Playwrights, Inc. National Playwriting Competition. As part of this honor, his play, “A Ninth Time” was presented in January 2011, during the Young Playwrights Conference in New York City.
“A Ninth Time” is a 45-minute, one-act play set in the village of Ouidah in Benin, the capital of slavery in West Africa. The story revolves around the Tree of Forgetting and the Tree of Return, two key stops in the slave trade. New slaves were blindfolded and marched around one tree to shed their memories and identity and the other as an assurance that their soul would be free to return home. The play has the essence and structure of a fable, but is inspired by history.
While visiting his parents in Benin during his sophomore year, Danny toured the preserved historical site and felt compelled to write about it. After three months he completed the first draft of “A Ninth Time” and has been working on it ever since.
Arts Academy creative writing instructor Anne-Marie Oomen said that Danny's international experiences in Africa supplemented his perspective for the play and that he was able to draw on the storytelling tradition while tackling deeply disturbing material.
Nearly two years and countless revisions later Danny enjoyed the fruits of his labor while attending the Young Playwrights Conference, which he said was an incredible learning experience.
“I learned how to be a playwright,” said Danny. “Staying up late working on revisions, getting up early to be on time to rehearsal—stopping by a Starbucks on the way for a caramel macchiato.”
In addition to seeing his writing brought to life by real actors on stage at the Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, the conference included rehearsal and revision sessions with an accomplished director, Melissa Maxwell as well as master classes. Danny also put his newly-awarded Dramatist Guild of America membership to good use by meeting with Gary Garrison and Ralph Sevus, the executive directors of the Guild, to help him review a contract he recently received from a publishing company interested in publishing “A Ninth Time.”
“Their input was probably one of the best parts of the conference,” said Danny.
Danny was also impressed by the actors and was thankful for such an amazing director who held everyone to such a high standard.
After completing two full run-throughs on the first day as well as separate scene rehearsals, Danny met with his director and dramaturge once more. “It was nice to have another check-in before the final rehearsal,” Danny said. “We decided there was one scene that lacked a bit of energy and emotion, and that's the one I rewrote that night!”
Danny said the performance was beautiful. “There was so much emotion in the actors and there were moments when the Storyteller read lines that shook me, even though I was the one that had written them,” he said.
The remainder of the conference included seeing a few shows, “The Divine Sister," “Avenue Q," “The Importance of Being Earnest," “The Lion King,” and “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark” as well as a special dinner with Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang.
Danny’s trip ended with a group dinner with all of the other writers, finalists from the conference and now his good friends and future colleagues as well as the Young Playwrights Inc. director. They were given valuable advice, to never let their art be taken for granted. Each playwright was then presented a check.
Graduating from the Arts Academy in May 2011, Danny has applied to Yale, Emerson, New York University, Bath Spa University in the UK, and he has been accepted into the University of Auckland (New Zealand) however his plans are not confirmed.
Young Playwrights Inc. was created to develop playwrights aged 18 or younger by actively involving them in Off Broadway productions of their plays; develop new work for the stage; ensure that young theater artists are acknowledged by theatergoers and the profession; promote the arts as an essential part of basic education by helping to integrate playwriting into the pre-college curriculum; serve as an advocate for youth regardless of gender, race, physical or economic ability, or sexual orientation.