On Saturday, May 29, Sophie Peloquin (7) was awarded Honorable Mention by the Zach Scott Theatre for a play she wrote, titled Children of Aleppo. The play follows six children in Aleppo, a city in Syria and now one of the largest battlegrounds in the Syrian Civil war, as they try to to escape bombs that explode in their town. The children escape to a refugee camp, and, after they find it to be filled up, leave for the island of Cyprus via boat.
“I was thinking for a really long time and I didn’t know what to write,” Peloquin said. “My dad and I were driving to school in the car, and we started listening to the radio. We heard stuff about Aleppo, and bombs, and all the civilians that were being killed, and that kind of started to help me think about it.”
When writing her play as a theatre assignment, Peloquin took a different route than many other students.
“Sophie chose children in Aleppo, and I thought that was really an interesting choice – a good choice,” Ms. Marissa Castañon, Peloquin’s theatre teacher, said.. “Most of the other plays were about bullying, LGBTQ+ issues, which are also very important. Almost all of the other plays were about that, and hers was the one that really stood out to me as an issue occurring somewhere else in the world that needs attention.”
Peloquin explained that while she conducted research for her play in order to verify facts, she was most startled when she realized the number of civilian deaths caused by the conflict.
“There are so many [civilian deaths], and they don’t need to happen,” Peloquin said.
Peloquin was one of 10 students chosen out of 250 students who submitted works in the contest, which was opened to young adults ages 13-18 and sponsored by local Austin non-profit Zach Scott Theatre. At the awards ceremony, Peloquin’s play was spliced into a monologue by the contest coordinators, and read aloud to attendees.
“I was so impressed when I read it, she’s really thinking about staging,” Castañon said. “One of the scenes is in tableau, while the grandpa’s talking to the kids, and the audience is watching. That’s pretty cool.”
Peloquin has plans to improve her play rewriting it, and hopes to submit it to more contests. She also advises other students who to write out their own ideas for plays.
“If you have an idea, then you should try to follow it,, because it could lead to something really cool,” Peloquin said.
During times of disaster and tragedy, one of the first things people worry about is money.