Local playwright is teaching her craft to kids

Like so many fun ideas for kids in the neighborhood, this one started organically, with a local parent — in this case BPC resident Laura Rohrman — offering her services to her child’s class at PS 89. Rohrman is a playwright who has an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School but in a way, she found her second calling among the kids. She’d show up once a week for an hour in teacher Michael Parish’s class and over several weeks, she and the kids would write something from scratch and carry it through to performance.

“I realized I had something with kids,” said Rohrman, who said she also learned a lot from being in the classroom with the pros. “I was listening and not telling, and I thought I could really develop something for them through drama.”

With those years at 89 as the start, she then started teaching at a school in New Jersey and after a few requests from local parents, launched an afterschool class — now called Playwriting for Kids — in 2018. The class is now run out of Poet’s House, with performances built in at Governor’s Island. The kids do voice exercises, game playing, storytelling and wordplay as warm-ups, then start to develop a script. They workshop it, fix problems, brainstorm. She has an assistant from Julliard help out, works with the local Fashion Squad School to design costumes and schedules a trip to see a Broadway show. There are also Saturday monologue-writing workshops for kids looking to hone their craft. (The next semester starts April 2 and runs through June 18.)

Some of the plays have moved beyond the neighborhood. Her class’ show about the Lenape — “Rainbow Crow” — was published and is now being used in other schools as a learning tool for theater and Native Americans. (Rohrman is also working on her own play, titled “Reporter Girl,” about her grandmother, the country’s first female cartoonist and the creator of the comic strip Brenda Starr Reporter in 1940.)

She says her students keep coming back for more, even though it’s not always an easy, laidback activity. “It’s very thought-provoking work,” said Rohrman, “but the kids love it.”

Playwriting for Kids
for ages 6 to 12



  1. Love what my daughter is doing with this age group. Kids today don’t have as much opportunity to create their own stories and actually act them out in front of a live audience due to all the electronics they are now exposed to that thinks for them. I know they are having a meaningful experience they will never forget that will carry over into their adult lives in very positive ways. ox

    • I so agree – some of my fondest memories are the team aspects of theatrical creating I did as a child. The usefulness in expressing oneself and discovering new methods of self realization are as important as math and geography.

  2. What a great way to engage their creative energy. An exciting adventure for all. Thanks for providing them with tools for them to make their ideas come to life. You have a gift for creating plays and a great ability to inspire them as well. Thank you