Playing by Heart: A Young Man’s Journey in Playwriting

by Becca Jennings

Twelve-year-old Matrick Thorpe loves playwriting. He also loves music. And here at FST, Matrick has found a way to combine both of those passions through FST’s award-winning WRITE A PLAY arts-in-education program.

When he’s not in Mrs. Steel’s 7th grade class, Matrick can be found playing cello in one of four orchestras. He’s worked both weddings and funerals. You might also catch him busking around St. Armands Circle.

“He’s been playing for two and a half years,” shared his mother, Shannon Thorpe. “He gives up his recess each day so that he can go and learn and play cello with the high school students.”

Matrick Thorpe playing cello.

Matrick’s not only a musician. He’s also an award-winning playwright. To date, he’s had four winning plays selected from thousands of entries from around the world submitted to FST’s annual youth playwriting competition. Winning plays are then chosen for full-scale production, brought to life by a cast of professional FST actors.

“It’s a great joy to see the work that you toiled so hard to complete manifested in a professional manner,” shared Matrick. “They don’t just goof off. They put effort behind it and try to make the story the best it can be.”

From noir to farce, Matrick’s plays span a wide range of themes and genres, often inspired by family TV nights. But two things are consistent throughout his playwriting portfolio: mystery and comedy.

“I have watched noir movies for a long time and I always enjoyed them,” said Matrick. “So, I wrote Case File 402: Love is Blind. The detective is blind and his seeing eye dog is also blind. It creates a lot of comedy.”

matrick show cropped
Michael Fraser and Brooke Benson in Case File 402: Love is Blind. Photo by Matthew Holler.

This year, Matrick is taking his play submission to a whole new level by combining two of his favorite pastimes.

“I entered a submission and it was based on a hero’s narrative,” he said. “It’s called The Ballad of Billy, and it’s a magical adventure of a boy trying to get ingredients for making the most perfect pancakes in the entire world.”

The play is also interspersed with music, which Matrick wrote himself…on the cello, of course!

But if it wasn’t for FST’s WRITE A PLAY program, which goes into the schools and inspires children to write their own plays, would Matrick have ever discovered this passion for playwriting?

“Probably not,” he said. “I love reading and I read several books a week. But I don’t know if I would have tried playwriting if it wasn’t for FST’s WRITE A PLAY program.”

Matrick didn’t even have a teacher this year who participated in WRITE A PLAY. But for the past two years, he’s participated on his own. And we’re sure glad he did.

“Through this program, we have touched the lives of over one million children to date,” said FST Director of Children’s Theatre Caroline Kaiser. “In a time when education can become bogged down with test scores and bureaucracy, this enrichment program reminds students about the importance of creativity in the classroom.”

With The Ballad of Billy, Matrick Thorpe is a four-time winning playwright. He and the other winners from this year will see their work presented in front of their families and educators at next year’s Young Playwrights Festival.

Congratulations to Matrick and all the students who participated in this year’s  WRITE A PLAY program. We are looking forward to seeing what you all come up with next year!