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Teenage Theatre Junkies High School theatre critics know just what to say
By Julia Rosenfeld

TDF's education programs provide hundreds of students each year with tickets to the best that New York theatre has to offer. Collaborating with classroom teachers and theatre professionals, high school students interested in theatre are provided with unique opportunities to experience live performance in an individual way.

Another outlet for teenage theatre junkies is TDF's Teen Theatre Magazine PxP (an abbreviation of Play by Play). Students from TDF's education programs who just can't get enough theatre join students who attend schools without as much theatre programming. PxP includes a variety of reviews (ranging from the big Broadway musicals to smaller performances), advice on becoming involved in theatre professionally, internship opportunities and listings of shows featuring student rush options. Ploggers (student writers) have the opportunity to not only see live theatre, but to respond critically to a captive audience. Often times, ploggers interview big stars and respected members of the theatre community - this past year, students interviewed the cast of Spring Awakening, Lin-Manuel Miranda of In the Heights and Sutton Foster from Shrek the Musical, to name a few.

"My favorite part of being a plogger has been meeting so many other people with the same interest in theater," says Amalia Queller, a senior in high school. "We become friends and go to other theater events together."

Christa Tandana, now a sophmore at PACE University, was introduced to PxP through Open Doors. "In high school, I was involved in musical theatre and drama club, but wasn't seeing shows," she says, "I didn't think that my opinion really mattered. I thought plays were all too expensive for me to see, so I didn't bother.  Becoming a plogger enabled me to see all kinds of theatrical work.  I found myself becoming a frequent theatre-goer and now love theatre! Writing for PxP also helped develop my writing skills and taught me how to organize my thoughts and opinion in a review."

High school junior Sarah Schlesinger feels similarly. "Since becoming a plogger," she says, "The way I view theater has changed. When I see a show, I look specifically for things to write about. I memorize quotes and scenes I think are important so I can include them in my review. I'm not only thinking about enjoying the performance, I'm also thinking about how and what I'm going to write about."

In addition to four issues a year with a print circulation of about 80,000 copies that are distributed for free in high schools, libraries and theatre programs around the five boroughs, PxP has an online supplementary plog (play-blog) where further reviews are posted frequently. Ploggers often create bonus material, such as the post The Play Was…  a resource of creative ways to respond to a play, ranging from "The play was like the cherry on top of an ice cream cake!" and "It positively penetrated my soul," to "My eyes and ears may never again function," and "Arrgh."

"My favorite part of being a plogger was seeing my review published," says graduate plogger Sabrina Khan, now a sophmore at Baruch College. "Seeing my name in print and my words for anyone to see gave me a thrill. Especially since I'm an aspiring journalist, it makes my dream of becoming an anchor or the like seem more like a possibility."

Echoes Tandana, "I got to see so much interesting work which really got me thinking about possibly producing, and working in theatre myself."

"I think of theatre as more accessible," adds Khan. "Before, it was a luxury and something for just special occasions. I know a lot more about the dynamics of theatre since I became a plogger and am more critical of performances than I used to be."

The Plog is also a perfect place for ploggers to voice their opinions on the New York Fringe Festival. Visit now to read what they have to say about this year's festival.
Author: Julia Rosenfeld
Julia Rosenfeld is a writer and teaching artist and the editor of TDF's Teen Theatre Magazine Play by Play.