Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playwright Profile - Michelle Cheripka

In the days leading up to the first rehearsal this Saturday, I’m posting short profiles of some of our high school playwrights. I sent the playwrights a series of questions via email, which will be included in the profile along with their response.
Today’s playwright is Michelle Cheripka, a junior at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack. Michelle’s play, Yesterday, was selected as one of four winners in the 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival – High School division.

How would you summarize your play in 3-4 sentences?
Evan has just fallen in love with Norah, but the relationship struggles in light of the relationship he has with his mother. In therapy, Evan must confront his dissociative identity disorder, his issues with his mother, his love for Norah, and the connection they all have to one another.

What inspired you to write your play?
I wrote my play because I wanted to show how not everything is black and white and sometimes it's okay to be in the gray area. People want there to be a clear answer to whatever they're doing or whichever situation they're in, but a lot of the time, you don't get that. I wanted to explore that gray area and put it in perspective that just because things may not be considered normal doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing.

What plays have you previously written?
Yesterday was my first play, but I've also written another play, The Detachment and I am currently working on two more.

What are your expectations for the upcoming Festival?
I'm really excited for the upcoming Festival. I can't wait to see the characters come to life and see how the actors interpret each one and makes it his own. Evan, Norah, and Dr. Brown have only been people in my head thus far, and now they finally get to be real people for everyone else. I'm also excited about getting the feedback of the audience seeing a live performance, as opposed to the feedback of people who have read the play.

What advice would you give to other writers?
I think the hardest part of being a writer is to have enough confidence in yourself and your idea. I know I've personally put away ideas before because I wasn't sure how they would be perceived and I wanted everyone to like it as much as I did. Not everyone is going to like your work and that's okay. Someone might hate it, but I think you should listen to why they hate it. You may not agree with them at all, but it's important to put your pride aside and determine if what they're saying holds any merit. Your biggest critic may actually to be your biggest editor.

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