A play about “all of Oakland,” written by teenagers

photo by D. Ross Cameron/Tribune

I stopped by Oakland Technical High School this week to interview its advanced drama students/playwrights about a play they perform tomorrow and Friday nights. It’s called “Oakland Inside Out: Portrait of a City,” and it’s a series of monologues based on dozens of interviews the actors recorded with Oaklanders.

There’s a story about it in today’s Trib, which has the particulars about the shows. Here is the official postcard, although it might be hard to read:

courtesy of Oakland Technical High School

I’ve heard great things about Tech’s performing arts programs, and the students I met were passionate about the work that they’ve done — and the class, in general. I hope these kinds of creative outlets weather the budget cuts.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • jessa

    Thank you Katy!!!! This is a beautifully written piece amidst a paper full of troubling news on our city. I so appreciate how well you captured the spirit of our students and their work. I will keep in touch with about our program as it progresses. Lovely photos as well…please applaud Ross as well. Yours, Jessa

  • cranky teacher

    I’m surprised Nextset hasn’t arrived yet to tell us teenagers have nothing to say and shouldn’t be allowed to perform plays, much less write their own!


    But nice job, Tech.

  • Vicki

    Please, see the presentation first and comment on it afterwards (to the blogger criticizing the kids before the fact).

  • Katy Murphy

    I think Vicki might have been referring to the person who posted this comment below the story, itself (Vicki, correct me if I’m wrong!):

    “Wow kids you talked to all those people to write a play about Oakland! You are so wonderful! By chance did you talk to a police officer, ambulance crew, district attorney or an ER doctor at Highland so they could tell you about the 120+ times every year that someone other than the police shoots, stabs or savagely beats someone to death in this beautiful city? No, you wouldn’t want to present a balanced view of the issues in Oakland. When in doubt, blame the police. You’ll probably make it to Broadway if you tweak the story to foment more discord surrounding the Grant shooting. You can do it!”

  • Nextset

    Sorry Cranky, I haven’t a problem with a student drama department. It develops a LOT of skills teens need for military, higher education and employment.

    It is fun to keep disappointing people who think they know what I would say on some point. Anyway, if you want my opinion all you have to do is ask. But keep guessing.

  • John

    An Omniscient “guessing!?” An irronconcilable contradiction to be sure.

  • Leah

    I just saw the play tonight and it was amazing. The students did an excellent job and the content was very thought provoking. I felt very proud this evening to be a teacher in Oakland and have children who attend Oakland schools. One of my old students, Molly Katz, is part of the play and she really shined. All the actors were terrific. Ms. J, the Director, clearly believes in her students and inspired them to produce what was clearly an exemplary production this evening. Bravo!

  • cranky teacher

    Sorry, Nextset to stereotype you … as you do all students and teachers in Oakland CONSTANTLY.

    You had earlier attacked high school journalism programs so I guessed you were against other extracurricular programs…

  • Nextset

    Cranky: I depend on you and others to confront me with the error of my ways – or at least specific examples of how OUSD and it’s education policy are doing right by the Black Students.

    I’m only one person – maybe I’m just out of touch… Maybe OUSD’s scores really do show that it’s products compare well with the rest of the state and national urban public schools. And if I’m wrong I’ll see my mistakes here.


    As far as journalism – I’m not convinced that even that is being taught. You see, my understanding of what passes for journalism in the urban schools is Left Wing propaganda and the absence of critical thinking in favor of political correctness. Are we to see High School journalism on anything that isn’t leftist dogma such as pro-gun rights, pro-choice, pro-Prop 8, Pro McCain/Palin, Pro-Law Enforcement or Pro Capital Punishment, Pro 3 Strikes?? How about a robust debate on human biodiversity?

    Believe me, the type of Journalism class I could teach would curl your hair. And it’s not that I’d have to push an agenda – the way things are, there is no debate and no curiosity either. You see, such conversations aren’t allowed.

    Back on thread. As I’ve said before, Drama Class does serve an important function in secondary schooling. It’s a form of public speaking. And one more opportunity to practice the English Language. Drama is a time when the students must consider how they present to others and moderate themselves to fit into a role. Good training for sales – or maybe courtroom practice.