‘Writing for Life’ series gives students a voice; ‘Maggie’ begins

For Florida A&M University’s Essential Theatre “Writing for Life” program, March 18 marks the beginning of “Maggie: Never Bitter,” a play written by Theresa A. Shotwell, a business and technology education professor and Department chair at FAMU.

“Writing for Life” is a series that helps potential artists develop their work by giving them the opportunity to practice and get feedback on their craft.

The first in the series, “The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf,” was a play written, produced and designed by Essential Theatre students. To continue “Writing for Life” this year’s play, the creators of “Maggie: Never Bitter,” which is now in its development stages, need feedback from you, the public.

“I have students working with me now that have given me positive feedback,” Shotwell said. “I’m flexible and would enjoy any feedback as long as it does not jeopardize my intent and my objective for the play.”

Taking place in the Charles Winter Wood Theatre in Tucker Hall, the Essential Theatre invites anyone interested to a staged reading of “Maggie.”

Described by the writer as a “serious musical with a lot of drama and some comedy,” it is a play that sends out a message to all about bitterness and how it could destroy a person. “Maggie” is a play about a very forgiving woman whose father is dying of prostate cancer, who, as part of his dying wish, wants Maggie and her stepmother to become a family. There is only one problem, Maggie’s stepmother is repulsed by the stepdaughter.

A modern day “Snow White” tale, the stepmother tries everything she can to get rid of Maggie. But instead of dwarfs there are five basketball players that teach Maggie important lessons about life, and instead of a “prince charming” there is a successful lawyer whom Maggie has known since childhood. And to add extra spice, the “mirror on the wall” is a Jamaican tarot card reader.

Though presented like a fairy tale, it is not for children. The play contains adult themes and language.

It is directed by Monica R. Woods and the staged reading is a free event that is open to the public.

Jessica Hamilton, producer of the staged reading, said following the end of the reading there is a survey in the program and a discussion afterwards so that the play can be tweaked and to expose what worked and what did not.

“Participating is a great way to be a part of the process to put together a new play,” said Hamilton, 22, a senior theatre student from Chicago. “Opening the play up for opinions will allow for us to appeal to different kinds of audiences.”

Shotwell hopes that her message is seen and understood by all who attend “Maggie.”

“I think that those who attend will enjoy it and I expect positive feedback,” Shotwell said.

Some students who plan on attending say it is a great idea to allow them to contribute.

“The fact that the Essential Theatre is allowing the public to give them feedback on a new play is a great idea and I think that anyone interested should attend,” said Desarae Garland, 21, a third year pharmacy student from Orlando.

For more information call (850) 561-2425.