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Actor Kevin Craig West with writer Polin Prabakar as she addresses the audience. Photo: Claire Woodcock
Actor Kevin Craig West with writer Polin Prabakar as she addresses the audience. Photo: Claire Woodcock

Actors, students come together for Plattsburgh lit event

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Recently, more than 100 people gathered in Plattsburgh's Strand Theatre for the "Adirondack All Write." Professional actors traveled from as far as Los Angeles to perform the works of local literacy students through "Symphony Space." Adirondack Center for Writing and the Literacy Volunteers of Essex, Franklin, and Clinton counties partnered with the New York City-based series for the event.

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Reported by

Claire Woodcock
News intern

The lights in the audience remained low throughout the performance. The actor's faces were lit by a single table lamp, accentuating their facial expressions. The actors sat next to each other onstage while Symphony Space Education Director Madeline Cohen introduced the work, author, and actor staging the piece. One by one, the actors their turns at the microphone and presented the audience with their representations, bringing the author's stories to life. Actors Dawn Akemi Saito, Kevin Craig West, and Charlotte Colavin performed the poems and short stories of the literacy students.

All of the participants onstage after the event. Photo: Claire Woodcock
All of the participants onstage after the event. Photo: Claire Woodcock
During the performance, the writers were scattered through the audience. They were recognized by the carnations they wore on their clothing. Many of the literacy students originated from other countries and learned English as a second language. Literacy volunteers of Essex, Franklin, and Clinton counties worked with the students to improve their English and writing skills. This was their time to shine.

After the performance, the writers joined the actors onstage. Some writers felt more comfortable at the mic than others. But one by one, the writers told the audience how grateful they felt. Overall, the writers appeared to be proud of the work they had accomplished. At the end of the night, the actors and writers received a standing ovation.

Many of the audience members left the theatre impressed with actors' performances and the students' work. In fact, some individuals felt inspired to write themselves. After the event, Elizabeth Ashline said, "I think I would like to start writing poetry."

Writings from individuals in the Adirondack Correctional Facility, a state prison located in Raybrook, NY, were also performed that evening. A special taping will be shown in the prison at a later date.

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