- West Orange Public Schools
West Orange High School Playwright’s Work “Black Boy” Selected by #ENOUGH in National Competition on Gun Violence
WEST ORANGE, NJ – West Orange High School senior Olivia Ridley’s play “Black Boy” has been selected by #ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence” as one of seven works by young people nationally. 184 original plays from 23 states and three countries were submitted for consideration and were reviewed by award-winning playwrights including Lauren Gunderson, David Henry Hwang, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Robert Schenkkan, and Karen Zacarías.
#ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence “calls on teens to confront gun violence by creating new works of theatre that will spark critical conversations and incite meaningful action in communities across the country. Our mission is to promote playwriting as a tool for self-expression and social change, harnessing this generation's spirit of activism and providing a platform for America's playwrights of tomorrow to discover and develop their voices today,” according to their website. “3Views on Theater” also participated in the project.
Olivia is a senior at West Orange High School and is no stranger to the spotlight. Her incredible singing voice and original spoken word pieces have graced Glee Choir, concerts, and Black History events at the high school and her gender-flip performance of Ponyboy in the high school’s production of “The Outsiders” was powerful and insightful.
She has been writing plays for several years. In 2018, her original play “Slush,” exploring assisted suicide, was performed at Luna Stage in West Orange. She continues her passion for performance with Vanguard Theater Company in New Jersey, and with Seth Rudetsky’s “Plays in the House (Teen Edition).
Her selected play, “Black Boy,” is a single-actor work revolving around the title character: “Propelled by the urgency of his own decay and desperate to be heard, “Black Boy” delivers his “villain’s monologue” - a parting speech typically delivered to a hero before their death - to his audience held at gunpoint. The play intends to explore the convoluted nature of gun violence, and seeks to present it as an issue that reaches far beyond the classroom and into race and class conversations as well.”
Olivia also loves to perform slam poetry and engage in debates. According to her bio, she “hopes to expose the nuance of “taboo” topics and spark much needed conversation, seeking to educate not only the audience, but herself as well in the process.”
Theater students across the country held staged readings of all seven plays on Dec. 14, the eighth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. The goal is to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence, give youth a voice, and create opportunity for conversation.
Watch West Orange High School Thespians and Drama Club members in their reading of the plays, including Olivia’s, by CLICKING HERE.
Playwright Olivia Ridley
Dec. 14, 2020