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Posted on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 : noon

Young playwrights serve up Five Bowls of Oatmeal tonight at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater

By Scott Beal


There are so many great arts and literature events in this town starring young people that sometimes I don't know what to do with myself. A couple of weeks ago, teenage poets performed for a paying audience of over 700 people at Poetry Night in Ann Arbor. A week ago, seven elementary school students wowed the crowd at the New Millennium Poetry Series at Sweetwaters Cafe. And this past Friday, a capacity crowd turned out for the "Dreams" art show at the Neutral Zone.

The trend continues tonight with "Five Bowls of Oatmeal," a festival of one-act plays written by playwrights ages 11 to 15 from 826michigan. Four student-written plays, each featuring a bowl of oatmeal, will be performed by prominent members of Ann Arbor’s theater community, including award-winning actor and director Malcolm Tulip.

The plays were written over the summer in a free creative writing workshop held at 826michigan. Hanel Baveja, 14, of Huron High School wrote a play about a conversation between four books. "Writing a play is a whole different game than writing short stories, so it was definitely a new experience," said Baveja. "I am really looking forward to seeing my play performed by professional actors."

Among the other plays to appear in the show are "Space Billy and the Raiders of the Lost Oreos" and "Help Grandma." For me, much of the appeal of this event is the mystery of how the oatmeal factors in. Will Space Billy explore the galaxy in an oatmeal-powered rocketship? Will the protagonists help Grandma prepare a bowl of oatmeal, or dispose of a problematic bowl of oatmeal or perhaps rescue her after she's fallen into an enormous vat of oatmeal?

The production is directed by local writer Jacqui Robbins and features actors from The Penny Seats, a new Ann Arbor-based nonprofit theater company, who will perform script-in-hand staged readings of the four plays. As 826michigan Executive Director Amanda Uhle points out, "Everything about 'Five Bowls of Oatmeal' is community-based.”

We are fortunate to live in a community where young people are so engaged in the arts, and in which community organizations do so much to support youth literary programs.

Five Bowls of Oatmeal will be held on Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lydia Mendelssohn theater in Ann Arbor. Tickets to the event are $15 for general admission and can be purchased at Ticket sales will benefit 826michigan’s free literacy programming for students ages 6 to 18 in Washtenaw County. For more information, visit or call (734) 761-3463.

Scott Beal is a stay-at-home dad who works at the Neutral Zone and volunteers for 826michigan.

image credit: avlxyz, by Creative Commons license.