rbr willow martin

rbr willow martinPHOTO:  RBR senior Willow Martin of Little Silver will have her play, “Late Shift” performed by Guild Actors of the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, NJ, on Oct 8.  Willow’s was the only work selected by a minor among the 28 plays chosen from a universe of 450 submissions.

LITTLE SILVER, NJ – Red Bank Regional (RBR) Visual & Performing Arts Academy (VPA) student Willow Martin of Little Silver recently learned that her short play was selected for performance by the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, New Jersey.  Her work was one of only 28 plays selected out of 450 submissions from playwrights all over the world. Of these 28, Willow was the only minor whose work was selected. (She is 16 years old.) Her play will be performed on Sunday, October 8, at 2 pm, at the New Jersey Repertory Theatre in Long Branch, NJ. The play will be performed by guild actors.


Willow’s play was adapted from her poem “Blood and Bleach,” which she wrote her sophomore year about a Chinese sweat shop. During her junior year, her Creative Writing teacher Dr. Gretna Wilkinson informed Willow and her classmates about the Theatre Brut Competition, encouraging the students to submit. Willow then expanded her poem into a play. The submission requirements included a performance time of no more than 15 minutes and a theme “all about Eve,” which was up to playwright’s interpretation.


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Willow’s play entitled, “The Late Shift,” is about three female factory workers in China protesting a belligerent foreman. Several devices are employed that relate to the theme of Eve, as the shift takes place at night on the eve of the new day. Additionally, the females challenge and end the authority of their male overseer.

Willow was visiting colleges in Boston when her creative writing teacher tracked her down. She hadn’t checked her emails so her teacher’s assistance was sought by the Repertory Company to notify her.

Dr. Wilkinson explains, “When they found out she was only 16, they were so surprised and then discovered they needed her parents’ permission to perform her work. She adds, “Willow gives credence to the Samuel Ullman quote, ‘Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind…” because she has the ability to access her creativity on a level that is unusual in someone so young.”

Willow Martin is an exceptional young person on many levels. She has made the high honor roll every semester since freshman year. She is the president of the Italian National Honor Society, a member of the National Math Honor Society, competes for RBR in the math and science leagues and participates in the mock trial club. She is currently interning for Congressman Frank Pallone and is a co-captain of the RBR girls cross country team.

Although she intends to major in college in something totally different than creative writing (physics or astrophysics to be precise, with the hope of becoming a researcher in the field of plasma physics/ fusion energy) she is overwhelmingly happy with her decision to concentrate on creative writing at the RBR VPA and feels very fortunate to be in her academy.

As she explains, “Whatever endeavor you undertake in life, it is imperative that you be able to communicate it effectively.” She adds, “This program has meant everything to me at RBR. It has provided me with a wonderful support system among brilliant minds in a free environment with a great family dynamic. Dr. Wilkinson has really changed my perspective on writing and the world, and has been like a second mother to me.”

Before the students finalize their work, Willow explains that the class conducts large group critiques. Her peers constantly collaborate, developing and maturing one another’s pieces.

“The entire class is to thank for the success of this play. I wouldn’t be half the writer I am without them all. I love and am indebted to each and every one of them. I believe it is the entire class’s victory that this play was chosen,” she states.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...