Stage West Theatre will produce two student-written plays Monday, May 6 through Wednesday, May 8 during the annual Festival of the Kid, a celebration of the work of young playwrights in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Each show is cast from the community and produced by professional directors and designers. The plays advancing from Timber Creek are “Shadowbox Experiment”, by junior, Lucas Bradanini and “Painting in a Different Color”, by sophomore, Sophia Zamora.
Bradanini and Zamora entered their plays in the annual Neighborhood Play Contest as an assignment for their playwriting class.
“I didn’t think my play was going to make it,” Bradanini said. “I thought it was good, but not that good.”
Bradanini drew inspiration for his World War II play “Shadowbox Experiment” from his fascination with psychological warfare and World War II stories.
“[The play] is about two American soldiers who are taken as prisoners of war,” he explained. “They are set in this room, and they think they are going to be tortured [for] secrets. But actually they’re being experimented on. They don’t know by whom, or by what. Throughout the play there are these interludes with the doctor who’s working on them, [and he explains] what is happening to them as they slowly become less and less human.”
His writing process was similar to others in the playwriting class, who began with brainstorming, then move on to establish a plot with all the crucial points of drama.
“We focused on making sure they had the key elements of a play,” theatre director and playwriting teacher, Amanda Brundrett said. “[Like] the exposition, a climax, a resolution that’s thoughtful, and character development.”
After brainstorming and creating a storyline, the playwrights then focused on the play writing. They spent three weeks in the library composing their ten minute plays. Then they moved on to the editing stage.
“I met with each student individually…where we just went through the elements of their play,” Brundrett said. “I gave my impression of it. It wasn’t to redirect them completely, just to give my impression. They had a week or two to revise it, and then submitted it.”
Sophia Zamora also didn’t expect her play to move on after the submission process.
“[The idea] was just something I had swirling around in my brain,” she said. “I wanted to put it somewhere. So I decided to use [playwriting] as a place to vent, but I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere.”
Like Bradanini, Zamora also used a childhood fascination as inspiration for her ten minute play.
“When I was little, I was obsessed with learning about different disabilities and conditions,” she said. “Then in eighth grade, we had an essay project where we could write about whatever we wanted, we just had to do some research. And so that’s what I started researching.”
In her research, Zamora gained a particular fascination with autism in females. She discovered she had many of the symptoms associated with females along that spectrum.
“So basically, I learned I have autism, but I don’t have an official diagnosis,” she said. “So I was learning about that, and coming to terms with [it and thought] ‘wait a second, there’s not something wrong with me, I’m just a little bit different’.”
Zamora used the essay project to write about the more factual aspects of her condition, but didn’t feel satisfied. She decided to use the playwriting project as a tangible place to put her feelings. The story reflects her own journey in discovering her symptoms and her family and friends’ reactions.
“After I told my parents about it, they weren’t as accepting of it,” Zamora said. “It wasn’t that they didn’t believe me, they thought that what I thought was valid, they just didn’t see it.”
Whether the students used the world around them or their personal lives as inspiration, playwriting provided an outlet for them to express their creativity and thoughts.
Read a sample from both of the scripts below.
From “Painting in a Different Color”:
GIRL 1: What is normal? Normal is invisible. But it is so real it almost feels tangible, especially when you aren’t. Normal is a trap, you want to be normal so you change a bit. Once you start though, normalcy constricts. It tightens around you, the only way to escape is to sacrifice more of yourself. Normal is following a set of predetermined social cues and behaviors without being told how to do so. Normal is following society’s rules without knowing what they are. Normal is fitting into the cookie-cutter mold to seem just like everyone else. They don’t realize that cookie-cutters hurt. They slice the dough, cutting away all that was unique.
From “Shadowbox Experiment”:
(This play is meant to be viewed in the round. Lights come up on two American soldiers who have just been thrown in a room with two beds. They both seem adept to war but one, Anthony, is obviously older than the other, Booker. They are in plain white jumpsuits. Booker is on the floor in the fetal position.)
Anthony: C’mon Booker, get up.
Booker: (Frantically) What’s the point? They got us, those Deutsch bags got us. Nazis don’t keep prisoners, Tony, they’re gonna kill us.
Anthony: If they were gonna kill us, they would have done it already. I feel they have something better planned for us.
Booker: There is no ‘better’ when it comes to Nazis. They’re probably gonna torture us or something.
Anthony: A little torture never hurt nobody, if that’s the case then I’m sure we’ll end up fine. Wounds can heal.
Booker: They’ll kill us after the torture then, no matter what the case is we’re dead. It’s just a matter of time.
Anthony: They’re keeping us alive for a reason, believe me. I’ve seen what Nazis can do to people.
Booker: Oh yeah? You got any proof?
(A tray slides into the room containing two slices of bread, two apples, and two cups of water.)
Anthony: That seems pretty convincing to me.