Newark Academy, Livingston
At the end of my freshman year of high school I took a two-week play-writing intensive with the goal of writing a one-act play. On the second or third day of the course, my teachers told us to write about a parent-child relationship. I knew right away that I wanted to look at a single parent and an only child because I thought those dynamics between two people who relied solely on one another, would be very compelling. Worn Thin’s first draft focused on Melanie and her elementary school son, Jared, as she struggled financially and Jared struggled socially at school. As the play progressed I wanted to raise the stakes so I went back and rewrote it with Jared a few years older, but on the autism-spectrum as well as suffering from post-traumatic stress. I thought it would be so devastating for Melanie to not only have to raise a child alone, but for that child to be handicapped and for her to have no resources to protect and nurture him.
2. You’ve won awards for your fiction writing, as well. Please tell us a little more about some of the other things you’ve written.
Ever since I was very young, I’ve always been in love with writing, and I’ve always used it as a way to express my feelings or tell stories through poetry or short fiction. After taking the playwriting intensive last year, however, I found that while I love all forms of writing, I prefer writing plays because I like to get to know a character through the way they talk. This year I took a course in creative writing, in which I wrote several short stories, one about a teenage girl with a wandering soul who befriends a young boy conning people out of their money in a lemonade stand, and another about a young man visiting a graveyard and encountering Death itself. I think my favorite piece this year, however, was my second play, entitled The Blue Dress, which tells the story of Pamena, a fifteen year old girl and the suffocating relationship with her alcoholic mother, Morgana.
3. In your bio you mention that you also perform in musicals. What do you like most about being a performer and a writer? If you had to pick one as your favorite what would that be?
4. What has been your most memorable theatre experience to date?
This year I played Little Sally in my school musical, Urinetown, which was just such an incredible experience. Initially after being cast, I was hesitant to be really excited because Little Sally is a mostly acting role and when she does sing, it is with a nasally character voice. As a singer I wanted a part to showcase my voice. Those feelings of hesitation really quickly went away, however, as I fell in love with this part. Little Sally is this extremely witty quasi-narrator of the show and I’d never felt more creative freedom with a role before. Unfortunately, the week of the show, I got a really bad cold and was terrified as I found I was losing my voice. In the end, I was able to participate in the show, not in full health, but the experience taught me that I really can persevere if I power through. I have never had more fun or more of a positive response than I received in this role. It really was a once in a lifetime experience.
5. If you were going on an adventure, who would you take as your travel partner and why?
If I were going on an adventure, I would bring my big brother, Lyle because he is my favorite person in the world. Ever since the moment I was born, he has been the person that will laugh at my jokes, support me, and stand by my side through the good times and bad. We’ve been on many adventures together and there’s no one I could imagine that I’d rather see the world with.
The 2015 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival will take place on June 1st (Junior HS & Elementary plays) and June 2nd (High School plays) on the Florham campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. You can use these links to make reservations for the June 1 or June 2 performances, or call the PTNJ Education office at 973-514-1787, ext. 21. The Festival is free; however, seating is extremely limited.