Norman youth write plays performed by adults 

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What would happen if adults performed plays written by children? The adults would not be allowed to condescend to the kids on particular ideas or tropes; they would simply play the scenes as written. What would theater look like if adults allowed kids to just write what they wanted?

That scenario has been a long-term fascination for Sarah King Bartell, chairman of the Namron Players, a Norman-based theater company.

“I have worked with kids in theater before,” Bartell said, “and my husband teaches drama to seventh-graders at Longfellow Middle School. I’ve always been impressed by the way children write. They have no preconceived notions of what they can or can’t do.”

This is the fourth season for Namron — it’s Norman spelled backwards — and the company has always been somewhat experimental. Bartell said it has staged performances that are edgy, so much so that they were not family-friendly.

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Plays Written by Kids (and Performed by Adults) is a family-friendly show, though, and it is free to the public.

The plays are very short, which is to be expected from seventh-grade writers. The playwrights are students of Bartell’s husband, Nick. The storylines sound as funny as Bartell said they are — a donut cop in an epic battle with his arch nemesis and Sherlock Holmes saving penguins. Honestly, who doesn’t cheer for penguins?

Bartell describes the scripts as “goofy and contagiously funny,” and the kids have written in moments of physical comedy as well as puns.

“These kids love puns,” she said.

There will be two performances of the show, and the running time is about thirty minutes.

“We like to keep our shows short,” Bartell said. “We don’t want to keep you in the sun too long, and we like our patrons to be able to do other things in Norman so they can make a night of it.”

The husband-and-wife team grew up in Norman after settling there with family.

“We are Norman people,” Bartell said. “This is our home and our city, and we are here for the long haul.

As part of its commitment to the city, Namron always stages performances in Norman. It also is a registered 501(c)3 organization, which means donations to support the company are tax deductible.

“All of our revenue comes from ticket sales and donations,” Bartell said. “This performance will be free, but people are encouraged to donate.”

At least part of what Namron Players does is encourage youth in their pursuit of the arts, and Bartell believes adults can learn from that, too.

“I try to apply some of the lessons I learn from the kids in my own writing,” she said. “The kids have been great at teaching me to throw away conventions.” 

Print headline: Play time, Norman youth write plays performed by adults in a Namron Players production.

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Greg Horton

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