March 16, 2006


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Actor-director wants your ideas
Head of Amato Arts organizes playwriting fest for kids
By Robert Greene

Got an idea?
Can you turn it into a one-act play, with a beginning, middle and end? Will it make sense, have consistent characters and include a problem or issue that the story attempts to resolve?

If you can do all that, and are still a student, Toby Tarnow wants to talk to you.

Tarnow is a professional actor and a theater teacher at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts in Milford. The arts center is part of that town’s Boys & Girls Club and Tarnow has made it her goal to make it a great one. To that end, she said, she’s organizing the center’s first one-act playwriting contest and festival.

“I’m hoping that it will be successful enough that we can hold it every year,” Tarnow said, “lifting the quality of production each year.”

Tarnow got the idea for the event from her students. The oldest of them is 14, but Tarnow said she is continually amazed by the quality of their work and the ideas they come up with for plays. Through the playwriting contest, Tarnow hopes to come up with three or four plays that she can put on in June, using talented teens and tweens as writers, actors, musicians and stagehands.

“Ideally there would be three one-act plays,” she said, “but if they are shorter there could be four.”

Tarnow is hoping to cull one comedy, one drama and one musical play out of the mix of entries. She’s leaving the contest entrance requirements vague. Her definition of a “student” writer ranges from kindergarten to community college. The deadline, however, is strict — by 5 p.m. March 31 she wants all entries submitted to her, via e-mail, to She says to include your age, phone number and school name in the e-mail.

Three plays will be selected by a panel of theater professionals and produced on the main stage of the Amato Center June 8-11.

Who is Toby Tarnow?
Tarnow began studying acting at The Lorne Green Academy of Radio Arts in Canada at the age of 8 and, at 10, she became a professional actress in live radio drama and CBC radio Schools Broadcasts.

Tarnow performed in live dramas on television, starting when television first arrived in Canada in 1954. She was the first “Anne” in the musical version of Anne of Green Gables, which was written for and broadcast live on March 4, 1956, by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp .

Some highlights of Toby’s television career are: the princess on the Canadian Howdy Doody Show, a regular panelist on the Canadian To Tell the Truth, a regular on the children’s show, Mr Dressup, a continuing character on the NBC soap opera Moment of Truth, and a continuing role in the ABC miniseries Amerika. She also had her own children’s television show, Nursery School Time with Miss Toby and Hoppy.

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Wake up to ‘night Mother