Interview with Shyla de Hoop, writer of “Have Hope” for Plays by Young Writers

Playwrights Project will produce its 34th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe on January 10 – 12 & 22 – 26, 2019. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 415 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and two scripts will receive staged readings in this highly regarded festival of new voices.


shyla de hoop
(Photo by Geri Goodale)

Have Hope

By Shyla de Hoop

Age 11, Rolando

Directed by George Ye

Production still from Shyla’s play “Have Hope” (Photo by Ken Jacques)

How did you first get involved with writing?

My teacher told us that we were going to write a play in class, and I thought it was exciting.


How did you come up with the idea for your script?

My cat died around the time my teacher announced that we were going to write a play.

Shyla with her dramaturg Aleta Barthell (left) and Director George Ye (right)

What themes are involved in your piece?

Strong family love, and wanting someone to fill the void in your heart.


What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?

Love your family because they will not always be there.


Do you plan to continue writing?

Yes! I plan to keep writing in the future.

Shyla reviewing and making edits to her play with dramaturg, Aleta

What do you want to be when you grow up, and why?

An actor or veterinarian. I like to act because it’s fun. I would like to be a veterinarian because I love animals and I can’t stand to see them hurting or in pain.


What advice would you give to a peer as they embark on writing their first play?

Make it emotional, because more people will connect to it and like it.


You wrote Have Hope during a Playwrights Project residency at CPMA. Can you tell us how your teaching artist and classroom teacher supported you in the play’s development?

Ms. Arnold told us to raise the stakes and make them really, really high. So I chose to make my play a matter of life and death. I did most of the writing on my own at home, where there weren’t distractions. I also like to write late at night.

Shyla and her mom on Opening Night of Plays by Young Writers (Photo by Geri Goodale)

What was it like to see your play acted out in your classroom?

It was embarrassing because my play was the first one to be read. After the reading, I wanted to go in and fix my grammar and spelling. I also wanted to fix a moment where the cats were hiding behind some trash cans.


Overall what was the most important thing you learned about writing a play?

Write, and don’t overthink it too much. Write what you feel, you can fix it later!

Shyla with her Playwrights Project Teaching Artist, Aurrora Arnold

What has been a memorable moment from your revision process, whether it be within the classroom or working with your dramaturg Aleta Barthell?

The table reading with the actors was memorable because it was the first time my mom had heard it and she loved it. My whole family loved it.

postcard front pbyw fy19

Visit for more information about Plays by Young Writers. 

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