This group of high school playwrights had their work brought to life by professional actors

Nate File, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Lifestyles

Meanwhile, Bee Kanofsky, a junior at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, is a playwriting veteran. She’s been acting for several years, but first picked up writing when the pandemic hit.

“I wanted to really connect, because in the theater community ... whenever a production would end, it would feel like the community would go away with it,” she said. “I found that really in the writing community and especially in the playwriting community, because it’s really small so you gotta stick together, tight-knit.”

The monologues that Kanofsky prepared for the showcase came from her play about the real-life relationship between two Philadelphia-area families in the early 20th century.

The Black visual artist Horace Pippin had returned to West Chester after serving with the famed Harlem Hellfighters in World War I. His right arm was severely wounded by German sniper fire and had lost some of its function. Pippin sought the help of a local beekeeper, H. Ralph Weaver, for bee stings, a treatment then thought to ease pain and arthritis.

In exchange, Pippin gave Weaver seeds for fish peppers, which were popular among Black families living along the Chesapeake Bay. Decades later, the small chili peppers were thought to be extinct, when William Woys Weaver, Ralph’s grandson, discovered jars full of seeds in his grandfather’s freezer in 1995. The younger Weaver shared the seeds, making fish peppers once again available.


Kanofsky said before the showcase that she would have an “emotion soup” of feelings while watching her work performed.

“It feels validating. And I feel really grateful to be able to have it performed,” she said.

“[And] being able to say that not only is my work worthy of being celebrated and being brought to life, but also that this community believes enough in me where they’re willing to put that faith in putting it on.”

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