For High School South seniors Maggie Marron and Tyler Samardick, seeing their plays onstage and performed by professional actors is like no other sensation. “The play really changed for me during the rehearsal process,” says Marron. For Samardick, the experience had its own surprises. “The actors made me laugh,” he says. “They made my own stuff seem funny to me.”
Samardick and Marron’s one-act plays will receive full production at McCarter Theater’s Youth-Ink Play Festival on Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11. The plays, directed and acted by theater professionals, are the result of a 10-session playwriting seminar given in five different high schools by McCarter Theater Education guest artists. Each play had approximately eight hours of rehearsal time.
The first five weeks of the seminar focused on in-class improvisations, writing exercises, and assignments in order to prepare students to create their own plays. The final five weeks were devoted to the actual writing of the plays with students given the freedom to write about any topic and focus on an inspirational event. “There is just an incredible amount of playwriting talent in West Windsor-Plainsboro,” says Steve Borowka, the education coordinator at McCarter.
The workshop resulted in 78 one-act submissions from South students for inclusion in the One-Act Festival. “We only chose one script from each of the other schools,” says Borowka. “But because of the exceptional quality of the submissions at WW-P we chose two.”
Borowka says that “the really wonderful thing about these plays is that they offer us a viewpoint on the world we don’t normally get to see. In almost every play, the hero is a teenage student and the villains are adults.”
Both Marron and Samardick are residents of West Windsor. Marron has been a member of Pirate Players for all four years at South. She will attend Johns Hopkins, where she expects to major in international relations. Samardick will attend Sarah Lawrence College, where he will likely major in creative writing.
Samardick’s play “Eleven to Six,” is a comic, dream-like fantasy in which a high school student, uncertain about what career path to choose, is visited by six different possible future versions of himself. Included among the visitors are a “Dweeb” version making $25 million and lunching with Jennifer Lopez, a “stoner” intent on smoking pot all day, and a smug middle class suburbanite with a lovely wife, lawn, and dog. To the incarnation of himself, the hero asks, “Are you happy?”
Marron’s “73 September 23rds” is a naturalistic drama with dark, dream-like shifts in time and space reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman. A young woman takes care of her 73-year-old mother, wracked with Alzheimers disease, and finds that she must deal with the emotional memories of their collective past — both good and bad.
— Jack Florek
McCarter Theater’s Education Department’s second annual Youth-Ink Play Festival, “The Room” at McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, Princeton. Friday, June 10, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 11, at 4 and 7 p.m. Free. 609-258-2787.