Theater the wright way


Sandra Koretz

The cast members of “The Insitute’s Prisoner,” written by Carina Villanova ’22, gather for Playwrights Festival rehearsal in the Drama Lab.

Jina Jeon

The school will hold its annual Playwrights Festival in Rugby Theater on May 26 and 27. The event will feature 14 student-written plays across two nights, with seven plays per night. The Playwrights Festival is an opportunity for student screenwriters to showcase the projects they have worked on throughout the school year. Series A will premiere on May 26 at 7:30 P.M. and Series B will premiere on May 27 at 7:30 P.M. The Fan Family Award for the best script will also be presented on the first night.

Writer and director Grace Belgrader ’23 said although her workload was intensive and challenging at times, she found a lot of inspiration in collaborating with other students.

“I wrote a play called ‘Say Yes,’ and I’m directing a play [by Oliver Green ‘22 ] called ‘The End,’” said Belgrader. “As a writer, I spoke numerous times to [Performing Arts Technical Director Aaron Martin] and [Performing Arts Teacher Rees Pugh] to discuss my characters and the story arc. As a director, I try to tell my actors to be absurd and take risks, and we just see how that goes.”

Student actress Emily Malkan ’23, who will perform in “A Therapist Named Aurelis” by Sophia Evans ’23, said the student-run aspect of the Playright Festival stands out to her the most. She said students strengthen their teamwork skills by combining their individual talents for a singular project.

“My friend is acting in a musical that is written by another one of my friends, which is directed by another one of my friends,” said Malkan. “Even our manager, [Sophia Rascoff ’23], is a student who deals with scheduling and other things typically done by teachers. It’s cool to see everyone’s skills come together for the show.”

Production staff Walker McGinley ’22 said the Playwrights Festival challenges students by putting them in positions they may not normally have much experience in.

“ [The Playwrights’ Festival] aims to get people into different roles they wouldn’t be able to do during a regular production,” said McGinley. “I’ve learned a lot about sound design throughout my years at the school. I’ve mostly focused on lighting, but [Martin] put me up to getting outside my comfort zone.”

Malkan said she attributes a great deal of credit for the Playwrights Festival to the writers and directors. She said a large purpose of the event is to highlight the work done by those behind the scenes.

“It is called the Playwrights Festival, after all, and not a ‘Play Festival,’” said Malkan. “I really do think [the event is] mainly for the playwrights, which is awesome, because actors often get the most attention, but the [Playwrights Festival] shines a light on the writers.”