Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Questions with Laura Diorio

"5 Questions with a Playwright" concludes with Laura Diorio from Middletown High School South. We asked Laura to answer five questions about her play or about herself and here are her answers:
Laura Diorio
Middletown High School South

1. What inspired you to write Pretty Girl?

Pretty Girl was written with a generation in mind. I had never written a play before, so when I took this on, I knew I wanted it to mean something. The writing process was significantly influenced by different people. I questioned my friends about their beliefs on social beauty standards and experiences they've had. Some lines in the play are even direct quotes! My inspiration for this play was intended for both friends and strangers. My goal was to showcase the reality that young girls experience all of the time, presented in an honest and relatable setting. I wanted to be a voice for those who are too afraid to express how they feel. I wanted them to know that they are not alone, and everyone goes through what the sisters in the play experience. If I could have at least one person in the audience listen to my play and think, "Hey, she sounds just like me" or, "Wow, I've definitely felt like that before," or "Oh my god, she's absolutely right," then I have done what I set out to do.

2. You were also nominated for a Basie Award for Supporting Actress for a play at your school. Please tell us a little about that play and your role.

Kismine Washington was created by F. Scott Fitzgerald in one of his classic short stories "The Diamond as Big as The Ritz." My drama teacher, Mr. Kozak, took on this hundred year old story and adapted it into a full length drama, which we then performed as our fall play this year. I had the extraordinary privilege of playing Kismine alongside some of the most talented people and friends I will ever know. The experience I gained from this show is unparalleled to anything I have ever done. Taking on a show with characters that have never come to life and a story that has never reached a stage is a rare opportunity that I will forever cherish. To top it all off, I was recently nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the Basie Awards, hosted by Count Basie Theatre which honors excellence in high school theatre. The Diamond as Big as The Ritz won Best Overall Drama and Mr. Kozak won Best Director. To be recognized for such a beautiful role is an honor within itself, and I thank Mr. Kozak and my fellow cast members for bringing the world of Kismine and her unique family to life.

3. You mention in your bio that you’ve written and directed before. What role do you prefer to take in a production (actor, director, writer) and what do you like more about that role than the others?

At Middletown High School South, our theatre program gives students the opportunity to thrive in multiple aspects of the art, and challenges them to take on new experiences. I have gotten the chance to be an actor, a director, and a playwright in the three years I have been at South. I have performed in six shows at South thus far, and have been a writer and director for our One Page Play Festival in the fall and our Ten Page Play Festival in the spring, which are both student-produced. I have loved every second of writing and directing, but my heart lies with acting. Since I was young, I have possessed a strong passion for performance. It has made me increasingly self aware and also provoked me to gain a sense of empathy for others. Performing is an exercise of the mind, body, and heart, and that unique experience is incomparable and irreplaceable.

4. What has been your most memorable theatre experience to date?

I do not have one specific experience in theatre that matters more to me than another. My most memorable theatre experiences are the ones that happen behind closed curtains at South with my favorite people in the world. For me, it is not about the end product. It is about the adventurous process that my cast mates and I take to get there. Theatre is a path that has brought me to some of the greatest people I know, those who have impacted my life for the better. Because of these people, I embrace who I am, and I encourage others to do the same. Every cast is a family, and rehearsals are our quality time together. Sometimes we want to rip each other's hair out, other times we're laughing so hard while foolishly dancing to the YMCA before the start of every show. Because of theatre, the greatest success of all is working with a group to be real under imaginary circumstances. Accomplishing that is the most memorable experience of all.

5. If you could have any super-human power, what would it be, and why?

This was the hardest question of all. After two hours of pondering my options (I wish I was kidding), I have decided that my superpower would be the ability to enter any realm of literature. How cool would it be to jump into the story you're reading? But then... How would I get out? This is why this question took two hours to answer.

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.