Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Playwright Spotlight: Get to Know Rachel Atkins

Welcome to "Playwright Spotlight" — your exclusive backstage pass to the creative minds crafting the incredible plays featured in our Theatrefolk catalogue. Discover the magic, quirks, and genius of the playwrights who help bring the stage to life. Let's meet one of these exceptional playwrights who offers the chance for your student performers to shine in their spotlight.

What inspired you to start writing plays specifically for high school & middle school students?

I'm the longtime scriptwriter for Living Voices, an educational theatre company that tours all across North America with 12 different shows about history and social justice. Four million high school and middle school students have seen my work! It was a natural next step to write plays for those students to perform themselves.

Can you share a bit about your creative process when developing plays that resonate with students?

As much as possible, I involve young people in the creative process: through development workshops, feedback, and using youth voices. My most recent youth theatre play, The State of the Students, was created in collaboration with 143 young people who replied to a questionnaire I posted online. The play is comprised entirely of their words.

What themes or messages do you aim to convey through your plays?

I'm interested in themes and issues of social justice, gender, race, identity, and how young people are experiencing our world today.

How do you balance education and fun in your scripts?

Humor is key! Even when a play deals with serious subjects, there need to be moments of laughter.

Can you share a memorable experience or feedback from a student performance that left an impact on you?

"I never knew that other people thought or felt the way I did, until I read this play."

Any advice for teachers or directors looking to choose engaging and age-appropriate plays for their student performers?

New plays! Don't keep doing the same old chestnuts or the same five plays that every other theater department is doing. There are so many great playwrights out there writing new plays for young performers. And get your students involved in the play selection process.

Anything else you'd like students and/or directors to know about you as a playwright?

I love customizing a script for a specific cast or community. I'm always open to making adjustments, so feel free to ask. And I love seeing your production photos when you share them!
You can see all of my other work here.

Products referenced in this post: Baalzebub and Baalzebub - One Act Version

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