Patrick Murray, a junior English major, has always had aspirations of becoming a professional writer and editor. Through Holy Family University’s Experiential Learning Department, Murray secured an internship to write and produce a play for No Longer Bound, a community-based prevention services organization located in Bristol, Pa that works with children ages 5-12 outside the classroom to promote unity and healthy living in their neighborhood and beyond.
Murray’s play, Finding My Way Back, tells the story of two main characters facing difficult situations. The first focuses on not forgetting where you come from. The second deals with not being afraid to ask for help.
“The play is divided into two separate stories in which the main characters are faced with situations that can make or break them in the future,” Murray said. “One of the children falls in with the wrong crowd in school and his behavior and grades start to slip. Another girl finds prescription medication in her friend's schoolbag and ponders what she should do about it. I tried to make these instances as realistic as possible, without being graphic or obscene, so that children of all ages could grasp the gravity and message behind them.”
Murray had no prior experience writing a play but was excited to take on the challenge. After meeting the children, he used some personal experience to craft the theme and direction of the production.
“I had never done writing like this prior to the internship. One, I had never written a play or even considered doing so. Secondly, I had never written something for children. It was a very challenging experience at first; I had to extensively research children's literature and how to structure a play, but it was well worth it in the end. Once I figured out a set way to structure the play, the script was relatively simple to write. As a child, I was involved in many different situations that tested my personal character in similar ways to the ones in the play. I dealt with a fair share of bullying, and sometimes hung around the wrong people to try to validate myself. In writing this play I was able to explain how that feels and how to try to cope with it for children who may be dealing with it.”
English majors are not required to complete an internship, but Murray was interested in pursuing one to further his career aspirations. Working alongside Angela Cutchineal, the Director of Experiential Learning, she was able to help Murray secure a beneficial internship.
“This internship was truly a blessing that fell in my lap and it's all thanks to Angela,” Murray said. “She and I were struggling extensively for about a month to find a suitable internship when she received a phone call from Damita Harvey, the Prevention Manager, at No Longer Bound. She told Angela that they were looking for someone to write a play for the children in the program, and Angela immediately gave me a phone call. When she, Damita, and I discussed the details a bit further, I was sold and excited to begin working on it.”
The play will be performed in May at a date and location still to be determined.