Young Playwrights Festival is young, playful, and funny

Sophie Lampl

Ruthie Gottesman and Annie Kline, Ruthie Gottesman, and Annie Kline

The statement that the students are the driving force of Schreiber could not be more true when it comes to the annual Young Playwrights Festival. This student written, student directed, student performed production of six one-act plays took place from May 2 to May 4.  The free production was held in the intimate setting of the choir room, in which the students also rehearsed.

The first play, written by juniors Sameer Nanda and Megan Poulos and directed by junior Nina Grauer, Heather’s Gone out of Her Mind, depicted the side-by-side story of a girl’s date with a boy and the five emotions she experiences.  It was a creative take on how emotions play out in one’s head.  The emotions comically played off one another as the entrance of womanizing Love (senior Aaron Bialer) offset Fear (senior Amelia Pacht), Sad (sophomore Alex de Angelis), and Happy (freshman Kelsey Weisburd), causing humorous outbursts from Anger (junior Jina Lay), who seems to be the only one trying to get Heather (senior Sabrina Brennan) back in order.

The alternating scenes of Heather’s real life and the actions of her “emotions” were cleverly portrayed side-by-side.  The characters of either scene froze and the lights were turned off when the spotlight was not on their scene.  This allowed for the audience to clearly understand whether it was Heather’s life that was the main focus or her “emotions.”

Junior Tessa Peierls wrote the hysterical short play, The Office, which took the stage next.  Directed by senior Yvette May, the play took place in an office setting where two female co-workers (freshman Stefanie Epstein and junior Kim Winter) hilariously competed for the affections of the new guy (junior Jesse Epstein) at the office, only to find out that his girlfriend is their coworker.  Laughter filled the room after cheesy pick-up lines were delivered one after another: “Are you in accounting?  Because I’m accounting on seeing you later.”

As corny as they were, these pick-up lines, along with Epstein’s seemingly insane attempts at flirting and excessive hair flipping brought down the house.  Each actor had excellent comic timing and delivery of the well written dialogue.

Senior Kyle Granger wrote a more serious play, Strangers, directed by junior Ariel Waldman,

which let the audience in on a conversation between an estranged young couple, played by juniors Naomi Boico and Wyn Stopford.  The room was still throughout this scene as the two rehashed some of their old issues as well as current struggles, portraying a dramatic yet melancholy exchange between lovers who still care deeply for each other.

The actors conveyed their feelings of pain and regrets toward their former relationship convincingly.  They were able to effectively create a serious, intense environment, drawing in the audience and silencing the room.

After a brief intermission, the play Infinite Ways to Say Hello, a drama written by Waldman and directed by senior Eric Rosenblatt, sprinkled the audience with some comedic lines.  It featured a thirty-three year old woman named Andrea, depicted by senior Sydney Ronis, who was in the process of searching for her daughter whom she gave up for adoption sixteen years earlier.

While at an adoption agency, she encounters Jason (sophomore Max Miranda) and Shannon (junior Sarah DeMarino), a girl she mistakenly believes to be her daughter.  When she is let down, she pours her heart out to an equally heartbroken audience.  This play, while short, allowed the audience to connect with the characters.

The grave tone of the drama is balanced out by comedic outbursts from Drew (junior Oren Barasch), an insensitive fake father Jason hires to sign off on paperwork.  Its ending, in which Andrea delivered a rueful monologue on the disappointment of learning the truth, reflected the imperfections of real life.

The fifth play, Cheers and Crickets, written by Ronis and directed by Nanda, exposed the life of Maya and Frank, played by Caitlin Ferris and Nate Krantz, a couple whose relationship has deteriorated ever since Frank quit his job and became a professional couch potato.

After Maya leaves for work one day, Frank is visited by his and Maya’s conscience (senior Becca Schaub), who encourage him to leave Maya and achieve his goals.  The audience roots for Frank and Maya, and are met with a bittersweet ending when Frank decides to leave Maya.

This section of the program entangled fantasy and reality perfectly.  Unlike the traditional portrayal of conscience as devil and angel resting on shoulders, Ronis casted Maya and Frank’s conscience as a sage old woman and a business oriented young woman, respectively.  This original take gave the act a unique twist, as well as comical element of Frank’s shock when he finds out his conscience is a woman.

The evening closed with a side-splittingly funny A Mystery to Die For, a play about a television show cast who must solve the mystery of the death of their cast mate, John, played by senior Aaron Brezel.

The characters take the audience back in time to the events leading up to his death through a laughter-inducing rewind dance.  The cynical Chim Chim (junior Lena Kogan) plays off the jolly Trixie and Mark (junior Megan Poulos and freshman Christian Hill).

Brezel performs a hilarious dance sequence as he solves the mystery by coming back to life and rewinding to the moment he died.  This one act play left the whole audience of varying ages laughing and smiling as the program came to an end that erupted in cheers.

“I never knew how talented my fellow students were at writing plays!” said senior Jack Weinselbaum.

From when the audience was laughing hysterically to when it was filled with an attentive silence, the characters were successfully brought to life before their eyes by the collaborative efforts of the students.IMG_2633