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The Play-Goer: Twin Beach Players’ 13th Annual Kid’s Playwriting Festival

These kids invite you to both laugh and listen

Freedom of expression is a value of all the playwrights in this year’s competition: Mason Blacker, Ashley Vernier, Sidney Baker, Paige Plater, Sadie Storm, Maria Hartley.

Theater nourishes many aspects of creativity. Actors, directors, musicians, choreographers, costumers, make-up artists, set designers, tech operators and playwrights all make up every show.

          At Twin Beach Players’ Annual Kid’s Playwriting Festival, kids get experience in most of those aspects of theater, starting with telling their own stories. Earning that privilege in competition this year are elementary schooler Maria Hartley, middle schooler Paige Plater, high schoolers Sadie Storm, Sidney Baker and Ashley Vernier, and high school grad Mason Blacker.

          One writer tells Bay Weekly she is using her voice to spread information and, she hopes, change lives for the better. Twelve-year-old Windy Hill Middle schooler Paige Plater’s play, A Tear in the Dark, focuses on a girl her age being abused by her foster father. Paige’s inspiration was her knowledge that domestic abuse can happen to anyone, even someone like her. She counts herself lucky that her parents have taught her what to do if she finds herself in such a situation; passing that knowledge on to her audience is her top priority.   

          This is both Paige’s second year as a playwright in this festival and her second year calling attention to an issue. Last year, her play focused on bullying and what the audience could do to help protect the victims.

          Other playwrights are happy to bring laughter to an audience. Sidney Baker, the home-schooled 17-year-old who wrote the play Love Conquers Most, decided in the dead of night that she wanted to write a play with a character named Houston, simply so she could include the line “Houston, we have a problem.” After that initial burst of inspiration, she drew from what she had seen in both movies and her own life to write her comedy about three couples.               

          “It’s more like two and a half couples,” she clarifies, as one couple meets over the course of the play. The play follows these six through their different relationships and their ups and downs, focusing on the positive and funny, “since it’s a comedy.”

          Fourteen-year-old Sadie Storm’s Fear is Useless and Temporary, Glory is Forever! was inspired by the television show The Office. The rising freshman at Huntingtown High says the show’s in-office interrogation about a marijuana joint inspired her play’s format. In her hands, a science teacher interrogates students after his classroom is vandalized. The interrogations are ultimately a test of character for the students, to see which will tell the truth.

          To say whether it was based on her own experiences would spoil the ending, says Sadie, but her experiences include lots of theater work. She started in the second grade, and she loves it and

writing.

          Freedom of expression is a value all of the playwrights in this year’s competition. Each girl I spoke to said that freedom of expression allows her to speak her mind based on her own experiences and personality, without threat of being silenced. Paige specifically pointed out that to her, freedom of expression included being able to find your voice. With many of the winners being repeat applicants, these six ambitious writers seem to have found theirs.

 

 

Aug 10-19: FSa7pm, Su 3pm, Twin Beach Players, North Beach, $7, rsvp: www.twinbeachplayers.org.