Young playwrights take the stage

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Friends, family, students, and staff gathered to watch a series of short plays written and performed by Acting 2 and 3 students as part of the Young Playwrights Project on Friday, Feb. 2.

Drama teacher Emilia Thornber assigned her students to write short plays last September, some of which were selected to be performed either by professional actors last November or by their acting peers last Friday.

“It’s a really enlightening experience. If you love drama, it’s a great way to understand what playwrights think, and how these people make these characters and why we love these characters this much,” senior James Tran said of his experience writing “College in a Nutshell,” in which two discordant college roommates develop a strong bond while living together in a dorm.

Tran’s inspiration for this play comes from personal experience, as he and his sister have lived together in very small, confined spaces. He aimed to share his experience of being annoyed by living in a small space with someone close to his age but also showcase the bond that creates. 

“But through spending all this time together, my sister and I have a really strong bond, just like the characters in the play,” Tran said.

Junior Zachary Coughlin wrote “A Great Judge of Character,” a play telling the story of a store manager oblivious to an employee’s repeated thefts. His goal was to entertain the audience with a funny, lighthearted play that didn’t require critical thinking or a sad plot.

For both playwrights, the writing process proved to be a challenging but fulfilling collaborative process. Coughlin said there were multiple times where he wrote something about which he was uncertain, but after having one of his friends perform it with their own interpretation, it became much better.

“I’d just go so far as to say it’s not just something I wrote — it’s something my whole class wrote,” he said.“In reality, I wouldn’t say any acting is all one person, it’s a culmination of learning and feedback.”

Tran also liked the process of learning how playwrights think and how characters are developed. Though humorously delivered, his play certainly carried a deliberate message directed at his fellow seniors as they prepare for college and dorm life.

“I want them to appreciate the people that they live with,” Tran said. “If they just start hating the people closest to them, their lives are going to suck.”

Thornber gave feedback to her students throughout the play writing process. She said the Young Playwrights Project was a great way for students to think about acting from a playwright’s perspective while expanding their thought processes and acting skills.

By using students from the class as actors, she said the students were able to take greater ownership of the project and engage with their peers’ work.

Abby Porter
Abby Porter is a freshman and is excited to participate in her first year of Oracle. In her free time she likes running, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.
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