Walker describes experience at Kennedy Center Playwriting Program as 'most amazing'

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Walker describes experience at Kennedy Center Playwriting Program as 'most amazing'

August 31, 2010

 Ashlynn Walker
Ashlynn Walker (second on front row, from left) spent 10 days in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive program improving her theatre skills.  She had the opportunity to work with a variety of well-known playwrights, and will showcase her talents by directing a play she wrote called “Nowhere Fast” on Oct. 7-9.


Ashlynn Walker, a Perryton, Texas, senior at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, had one of the most memorable experiences of her life while attending the 2010 Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive program in Washington, D.C.

Walker was one of 40 participants in the Primary Program who took part in a 10-day playwriting intensive at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Participants were divided into three groups - the red, green and blue. Walker was a member of the blue group.

“My group was comprised of the most wonderfully talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” Walker said.

From all walks of life, participants gathered with a single purpose - to better their skills and become better craftsmen. Each morning a small group of people met with one of the leaders of the intensive to talk about a variety of things over breakfast at the local coffee house.

Their group leader was Gary Garrison, program director, who led their morning sessions.

“He taught us so much just in that first session,” Walker said. “We could have gone home with a full experience that next day. Every time he spoke, every single playwright took out their pens and paper.”

Walker lists her memorable experiences as listening to playwrights whose work she has been reading since high school, and to talk about things that she was dealing with as a writer.

“All of us were star-struck when Marsha Norman, a Pulitzer Prize winner for drama, spoke to us,” Walker said. “She truly had us in the palm of her hand. Through this experience I gained a healthy respect for myself and for my craft. In the first day, I was thoroughly convinced by the staff that I belonged in their presence.”

Over the summer, Walker completed “Nowhere Fast.” She will be directing this play as part of her senior theatre final on Oct. 7-9.

Walker wanted to thank Northwestern for supporting her in this academic adventure and is grateful to Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, for making an investment in her future.

“I also would like to encourage my fellow students at Northwestern to take chances like this,” Walker said. “Even if you think you’ll never get accepted in a million years because you’re from a small town, it could happen to you. And if it doesn’t happen for you the first time, keep trying, you never know what’s in store for you.”