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By Jessica Ford

Write From the Hip, a playwriting program that fosters young female writers, is looking for the Ryerson writing talent it has seen in the past.

Haley McGee, a former participant and current fourth-year theatre student, was in the program last summer. During her time in the workshop, she wrote Between the Tree and the Sweetest Pea, the tale of a man torn between a past love and his current love.

When she learned that Sheldon Rosen, a well-known Toronto-based playwright, would be teaching the classes, McGee eagerly applied to the program and was shortly accepted.

The contest, which caters to women writers aged 18-29, has been giving creativity some room to bloom beautifully across the city for six years.

“I definitely feel like I figured out what kind of theatre I want to write and in turn what kind of theatre I want to be a part of,” said McGee, “I fell into the writer that I want to become.”

At the end of the summer, the plays are shown on the last night of Nightwood Theatre’s Groundsfall Festival.

“It was probably one of the best days of my life,” McGee said of watching her writing being put into action onstage.

The performers are part of the Emerging Actors Program, which works with Write From the Hip to help make the play materialize as they should.

For Ryerson’s image arts, journalism, radio and television arts and theatre students, Write From the Hip is an opportunity to put the skills learnedin class and naturally imaginative ideas to good use – first on paper, then on stage, explains Lisa Codrington, the contest’s coordinator and a 2003 Ryerson theatre school graduate.

The participants meet for three hours once a week for five months of the summer. The curriculum involves watching plays, visiting museums, seeing guest artists, observing people in public, and doing movement exercises to stimulate inspiration.

In her third year, Codrington was a participant in the program. She wrote a play, Cast Iron, a one-woman show about traveling back in time to an era when inter-racial mixing was strictly forbidden and slavery and colonialism bred superstition, oppression and silence.

She gives Professor Rosen a round of applause for helping her build up enough confidence to tackle a play with such a personal, emotional plot.

Codrington currently acts as a mentor and leader to the young women in the writing workshop program. She says she’s seen a lot of Ryerson students benefit from the program, all coming from different writing backgrounds.

“People don’t have to come in knowing how to write a play,” she explains. “It’s an opportunity for them to have that support around them where they can take risks to try perhaps something they’ve never done before, like writing a short play.”

Deadline for submissions for the 2007 summer season is Nov. 15. For more information, visit Write From the Hip’s websire at Nightwoodtheatre.net/index.php/mentorship/write_from_the_hip or call (416) 944-1740 ext. 4.

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