- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
From fairy tales to real-life dilemmas, the six winning plays of the Twin Beach Players' eighth annual Kids' Playwriting Festival ensured there was something for everyone at this year's performances.
Friday marked the opening night of the festival, which showcases the talents of more than 60 children involved in the production 2013's winning plays.
The six plays were performed Saturday and Sunday as well, and will run again this weekend at the North Beach Boys & Girls Club.
The festival offers a unique opportunity, giving young playwrights “complete control over this show,” including writing, casting, directing and designing scenes and costumes, which is “unheard of at this age,” according to Twin Beach Players Youth Group Director Regan Cashman.
The annual playwriting competition is open to all school-age children in the state of Maryland, Cashman said Tuesday, though most contestants are local. Cashman said she reaches out to all of the counties' school boards, and “we always get a few strays from different counties, but most of it ends up being Calvert.”
The subject of the plays are completely up to the writers. The single condition: time limit. High schoolers were given a play length of 25 minutes; middle schoolers were allowed 20 minutes; and elementary schoolers had up to 10 minutes. As a bonus, the winners each received a $100 prize.
All of the winning playwrights had been previously involved in theater in some way before entering the festival. Many had acted or worked behind the scenes, but not all had written or directed before.
Chris Skarin, 15, of Northern High School, playwright and director of “Promblems? A Homecoming Promedy,” said, “One of my friends has been writing shows for Kids' Playwriting Festival for a while now, and I have always written screenplays as a hobby, so I thought I should try writing for contests. As for directing, I thought this would be a fun opportunity to make my vision come to life on stage, so I jumped at the chance.”
Skarin has acted with the Northern High School Patriot Players, Twin Beach Players and other theater companies. He also “would definitely consider this as a career. I have done backstage before,” and he also has been “doing acting, but this opportunity has made me consider writing/directing a major backup career.”
Others, like Anna Gorenflo, 17, of Northern High School, are experienced playwrights. Her play, “Checkmate,” was Gorenflo's third consecutive win. She said, “Well, the writing I've done for three years in a row now. A lot of people think that the money is a big incentive for me, and sure, it's nice to have money towards college, but I just really enjoy being able to bring something that came from my own imagination to life. That's another big reason why I wanted to direct as well. Every director has a different interpretation of what they see in a show, but I had an exact vision that I wanted to get across.”
When asked if she would consider pursuing writing and directing as a career, Gorenflo said, “More writing than directing ... I'm intending to go to college for musical theater, and hopefully pursue that, but writing professionally is definitely something I've always wanted to try.”
The younger playwrights proved they could keep up with the more experienced writers.
Madeline Viteri, 12, of Severna Park Middle School entered the festival for the first time with “Booked,” a Harry Potter inspired story about being transported into a book. This was Madeline's first time entering a playwriting competition.
Abigail Petersen, 12, of Windy Hill Middle School won with “Help From Above,” the dialogue for which was based on her brother and sister fighting over the remote. She has been involved in eight plays with the Twin Beach Players.
Adriana Money, 10, of Northern Middle School won a place in the festival with “Finding Her Way,” a Disney inspired story with a twist. This was not only Adriana's first year as a winning playwright, but also her first year with the Twin Beach Players.
This year's youngest winning playwright, Megan Cashman, 9, of Beach Elementary School, wrote and starred in “The Princess and the Cat.” This is Megan's fourth Kids' Playwriting Festival and 10th production with the Twin Beach Players. It was also her first attempt at playwriting.
Judging criteria for the plays, according to Regan Cashman, included identifying a conflict that needed resolving in the play, believable dialogue and appropriateness for a family audience, and the plays also had to be producible and the original work of one student. Judges this year were Mark Scharf, a published Maryland playwright; Mark Beach, owner of Maryland Theatre Guide and New York Theatre Guide; Jose De La Mar, professional actor; Jeff Brown, published Maryland writer; and local performer Janel Boises.
The Kids' Playwriting Festival continues with performances Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the North Beach Boys & Girls Club. Cost is $5 per ticket. For more information, call Regan Cashman at 410-474-4214, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.