Student Playwright Festival 2022: An Unrestricted Space for Imagination for Students at All Experience Levels

As actors filled the stage with colorful expressions and dialogue, the audience erupted into laughter and applause at the Student Playwright Festival last Friday. As part of Andover’s DramaLabs, this performance featured six student-directed plays that ranged from serious skits to comedy acts in the Theater Classroom.

According to one of the producers, Kate Horton ’22, the Student Playwright Festival was an opportunity for veteran and novice student playwrights to explore theater and scriptwriting. Though many of the directors and performers presented their work on stage for the first time at the festival, Horton believes that all the acts showcased astonishing creativity and adept acting skills.

“We had four plays that were written by varying grade levels, and they all wrote and cast their plays and directed them. We also had two [original] comedy acts. It was wonderful to see the creative writing talent…the acting talent and directing talent, all combined together to create a wonderful playwright festival,” said Horton.

For many of the playwrights, their work was inspired by childhood memories, random thoughts, or even just a passion for laughing. The unrestricted nature of the writing process provided an outlet for creative expression according to Dori Rosenstrauch ’23, who wrote and performed in one of the stand-up comedy acts.

“In terms of coming up with any of my sketches or skits, I just kind of go about my day and any funny thoughts, any funny conversations I have, I write it down in a notes document, so that when it’s time to synthesize a piece, I can just pull a bunch of small bits… and then write them all together as one,” said Rosenstrauch.

Throughout the creation process, the most challenging aspect was transforming a two-dimensional “mental movie” into a three-dimensional act on stage, according to director Grace Wang ’22. The actors had to learn cues for dialogues, body language for conveying emotions, and different ways to utilize the space in the theater. 

Sometimes, as someone who’s not an actor, I had to step into a new role getting in the perspective of the actor. [I considered] when would they get up, when would they move around the room, and as a writer, I feel like I’m envisioning these things, but it’s hard to describe it to other people because it’s all in my head,” said Wang.

Wang and the other directors’ efforts to bring their pieces alive were well received by the audience. According to Emily Fan ’24, the audience was engaged by the range and quality of the performances. 

“I enjoyed how the audience was very engaged, and how there was such a range of performances…I feel like all of the acts were relatable in some way or another. They talked about trends and school, which I thought I could relate to a lot, and it made it a lot funnier,” said Fan.

The Student Playwright Festival allowed many new student playwrights to explore the theater world with no restrictions, encouraging creativity and sparking motivation for the community to engage in more theatrical events. Director Sara Romai ’23 reflected on the festival’s impact on her as a playwright and expresses her pride on her and her peers’ growth throughout the process. 

“I think the whole student playwright festival on its own is pretty special because all of the pieces were student-written. For me it was special because it was my first time directing, and I got to explore what that was like in a very low-pressure environment… Honestly, it was amazing to see what everyone had written [and] I thought all of them were really good,” said Romai.