Interview with Jordyn Smiley, Costume Designer of Plays by Young Writers

Playwrights Project will produce its 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre on January 29 – February 1, 2020. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 561 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

Jordyn Smiley teaches Fashion & Costume Design at San Diego Mesa College. She has built costumes for The Old Globe, McCarter Theatre, Two River Theater, and Disney Imagineering. Previous designs include Romeo, Romeo & JulietThe Jungle BookCrimes of the HeartAssassinsGlorious OnesAll Shook Up. This is Jordyn’s fourth Plays by Young Writers Festival.

What’s your vision for this year’s plays?
My vision for this year’s plays is to create distinct costumes that help tell the playwrights’ stories. I want to be true to the playwrights’ intents, and allow the costumes to accentuate their idea of who each character is. 

Describe a couple images that come to mind when you’re conceptualizing the costumes for this year’s plays. 
Since each play is so different, it is hard to describe a single image that works for each play. For Love is Blind, I was struck immediately by the idea of asymmetry and sharp, angular lines for the costumes.  There is no room for personal feelings or free choice in their world, so I wanted the clothes to reflect the feeling of a sterile, rigid society.  However, things get a little complicated and muddled for the main character, Amber, so I envisioned her wearing garments with lots of sheer layers to show the depth of her feelings. I was really inspired by a single image I found of layers of white fabric closing in smaller and smaller until you get to the center, revealing a muddy shade of gray. This felt like a vision into Amber’s core – something that she feels deep inside, but is trying to hide from the world.   

What questions did you ask about the characters as you started to visualize them?
I started with the typical character questions, such as how old are they , what season is it, where is the action taking place, etc.  Then I went further into each character and asked what do they want in the play, what kind of a life have they had until now, what type of message do they want to send, etc. For example, in Feliz Cumpleaños, it was important to me that all the characters look like believable high school students,  however it was equally important that each one had their own style that reflected their personality.  Cami is such a strong character and at times puts up a bit of a wall while trying to act tough, but really she’s scared and insecure inside.  I tried to reflect this by putting her in trendy clothing while she’s with her peers, with crisper fabrics and bolder colors and prints, but when she is at home you see her in soft, comfy sweats.  Home is where she can let down her guard and show her vulnerability, which is reflected in her clothing choices.

This is my fourth year working with the Plays by Young Writers Festival and I’m thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful production! 


The Plays by Young Writers Festival’s public performance will take place February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or at write@playwrightsproject.org.
Tickets can be purchased on Playwrights Project’s website.

Interview with George Yé, Projections & Sound Designer of Plays by Young Writers

Playwrights Project will produce its 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre on January 29 – February 1, 2020. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 561 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

George Yé  is Chair of Drama at San Diego Mesa College, a director, fight choreographer, and member of AEA. Previous Plays by Young Writers productions include: Idiot I’m Great, Fire Hazard, Hackathon, The Supermarket of Lost, The Acquittal, The Tangible Tollbooth, Crown Prince Crazy, Coffee Cream, and Closure, Fairy Tale, 39-40.

George speaks to past PBYW winning playwrights to prepare and inspire them for their revision process

Do you work in theatre outside of this festival and if so, how does your work in Plays by Young Writers differ from your other work?
For many years I designed sound for theatre and composed incidental music for short films, and more recently I’ve been directing. So, it’s a joy to settle into the sound design role for this year’s Festival. We’ll see how rusty I am. Working with Playwrights Project in this capacity should be no different than working with any other professional theatre company. The only exception would be that we are producing 3 shows this season, and I’ll be working hard to make sure there’s distinct support for each show. 

Describe a couple ideas that come to mind when you’re conceptualizing the sound design for this year’s plays.
One concern that comes to mind is creating ambiance. One of the sound designer’s jobs is to help reveal setting and location. Proper music selections, compositions, and sound effects will be important to help set the tone and establish environments for the shows. Another item that comes to mind is the need for live sound support; that is, microphones for performers. Where productions require the use of live amplification assistance, the sound designer needs to think in technical terms as well as conceptually to support a production.  

What caught your attention most when you first read the scripts?
The theme of family and honesty stand out in my mind. These topics are important to me; easy to define, yet not always easy to maintain. So, plays reminding us about the values of those themes inspire me. 

Please feel free to include any other information or insights you wish!
It’s going to be a great Festival this year and Cecelia, Ruff, and everyone at Playwrights Project has done an incredible job visualizing this year’s season!


The Plays by Young Writers Festival’s public performance will take place February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or at write@playwrightsproject.org.
Tickets can be purchased on Playwrights Project’s website.

Interview with Tori Rice, Dramaturg of “Like Father, Like Daughter”

Playwrights Project will produce its 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre on January 29 – February 1, 2020. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 561 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

Tori Rice is an award-winning playwright, actress and teaching artist. She is honored to be involved with this wonderfully talented group. Plays include Devil-in-a-Box and Like Ivy (Scripteasers, 1st place); The Hunt(s) and Tiny (Scripps Ranch Theatre); Sisters in the System (commission, Playwrights Project); and The More Men Weigh (Edmonton Fringe critic’s pick).

What caught your attention when you first read the script?
The richness of the characters, the authentic dialogue, and the complexity of the relationship! Izzy paints a portrait of two compelling people—a father and a daughter–struggling to understand one another and navigating family changes while each of them “grows up.” She details their interpersonal struggles so vividly and with such compassion, that I immediately became invested in their story. Izzy’s wit also throughout the script.

Can you please share any details about your vision for the play?
I could immediately picture what this play would look like onstage. Izzy’s character-driven story has two delicious roles for actors to dig into. I can see the audience as a ‘fly on the wall,’ eavesdropping on the twists and turns of this relationship. I am eager for people to see it!

What are a few of the highlights of working with young writers?
I am always inspired by the incredible storytelling of young writers. It is such a joy to be a part of their journey and see the growth of the script—from first draft to table read to rewrites (and then performance)!

Tori and the Ster Family visit during our Lights Up! event

Like Father, Like Daughter features a daughter’s relationship with her father throughout different points in time. When working with a script that includes transitions through time such as these, what challenges arise?
A few challenges: the importance of showing the lapse in time, rather than telling, and also finding the right pivotal moments for these characters that keeps the story moving forward. Izzy does a fabulous job showing the time change through the behavior and dialogue of the characters. During the revision process, we discovered that a few quick costume changes were going to be particularly challenging for the actors. Izzy rewrote sections of the script with this in mind, keeping the moments that lent to the overall arc of her story. She also has specific wardrobe changes for Daughter as she matures from middle-schooler to high-schooler. The play takes place in one setting so the design elements—and she has a top notch director and design team—will also aid in the transition of time.

Please feel free to include any other information or insights you wish!
With only two characters, Izzy allows the audience to focus intimately on their internal and interpersonal journeys. We feel like we know these people. It is a gift to have that level of writing insight at such a young age—to focus on the poetry of people. She also embraced the revision process. She has such a fantastic energy and dedication to her words—she’s inspiring!


The Plays by Young Writers Festival’s public performance will take place February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or at write@playwrightsproject.org.
Tickets can be purchased on Playwrights Project’s website.

Interview with Izzy Ster, writer of “Like Father, Like Daughter” for Plays by Young Writers

Playwrights Project will produce its 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre on January 29 – February 1, 2020. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 561 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

Like Father, Like Daughter
By Izzy Ster
Age 16, Carmel Valley
Directed by Ruff Yeager

How did you first get involved with writing?
I have always loved writing from a young age. I started writing short stories in elementary school. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with very supportive English teachers, along with receiving encouragement from my family. 

How did you come up with the idea for your script?
My parents aren’t divorced, but I have close friends who have struggled with family issues similar to those described in my play. One afternoon my dad and I were getting a car wash at a nearby gas station and he went inside to buy a lottery ticket…next thing I knew I was left on the bench outside picturing this play. 

What themes are involved in your piece?
Themes involved in Like Father, Like Daughter are coming-of-age, identity, loss, compassion, and divorce. 

Izzy and her parents attended Playwrights Project’s Lights Up! Playwrights Take the Stage event where the winners of the California Young Playwrights Contest were announced on October 5th.

Your play depicts the effect that time can have on a relationship.  What was it like exploring the changes within your characters with each time jump?
Really challenging, but a lot of fun. I had to think about how the emotional responses, speaking, humor, and perceptions of each character would shift throughout the years. I really enjoyed exploring this through dialogue. 

What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?
This piece explores the “what next?” of divorced families, especially the individual relationships between the parents and child. Furthermore, I wanted to emphasize the difficulty teenagers have with finding their identity.

Izzy receives her certificate of achievement from Festival Artistic Director Ruff Yeager and Playwrights Project Executive Director Cecelia Kouma

What are your career goals and/or aspirations?  
Playwriting is my first choice as a career, but any other creative writing career path would make me really happy. I’ve also given thought to becoming an academic or a teacher. 

What advice would you give to a peer as they embark on writing their first play?
Just sit down and write. Who cares if your characters don’t have names, or if there are obvious plot points. I just focus on getting an idea out on paper, and then fine tuning it later. 

Izzy and her father tour the Joan B. Kroc Theatre

Are you currently working to develop any other plays?
I’m just finishing up editing a shorter one called The Substitute

You volunteer frequently with local organizations, including Envision Conservatory of the Humanities, Words Alive, and National Charity League. In what ways do these experiences inform your writing?
In Humanities Conservatory, we have a core of theology, philosophy, ethics, and civics. Essentially, it pushed me to continue to ask “why?”  when writing different aspects of my play. This core also challenges my worldview and encourages divergent thinking. National Charity League fosters an environment of compassion. Through National Charity League I volunteer with a variety of philanthropies, and utilized these experiences when developing my characters’ personalities. The same goes with Words Alive, which taught me the importance of giving back to others, something I hope to accomplish through my writing.   

In addition to playwriting, you write for your school’s literary magazine and newspaper. As a writer, do you find that alternating between creative writing and journalistic writing has an effect on your art-form?
I think creative writing has a bigger impact on my journalistic writing, as it tends to be less stark than the average journalist. I am lucky enough to explore all fields of writing, but all of these writing extracurricular activities help me continue to grow as a writer. 

Izzy and her dramaturg Tori Rice

Please share with a few insights into your play’s development process — how do you approach edits? What have you learned so far?
My dramaturg, Tori Rice, has been very helpful and I am grateful to have met her through Playwrights Project. Additionally, hearing the first table read of my script was really enlightening because hearing my writing being spoken aloud helped me notice things I want to change. Usually with edits, I try to get them done in one sitting so I don’t forget any ideas I had or wanted to implement. 

I also want to thank my parents for supporting me and my writing through thick and thin. 🙂 


Like Father, Like Daughter can be seen during Plays by Young Writers on February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or at write@playwrightsproject.org.
Tickets can be purchased on Playwrights Project’s website.

Photos courtesy of Geri Goodale of Reminisce Photography.

Interview with Mabelle Reynoso, Dramaturg for “Feliz Cumpleaños”

Playwrights Project will produce its 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre on January 29 – February 1, 2020. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 561 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

Mabelle Reynoso is a teaching artist and commissioned playwright for Playwrights Project. Her relationship with Playwrights Project spans over 20 years, beginning when she won the California Young Playwrights Contest. She is delighted to return as a dramaturg for Plays by Young Writers.

What caught your attention when you first read the script?
Feliz Cumpleaños is a play about some really fascinating relationships. I was excited about the prospects of the playwright digging deeper into these relationships and making discoveries as she continued to work on the script.

Can you please share any details about your vision for the play?
I’d love for this play to resonate with audiences from all walks of life. For some audiences, this story might hit close to home — the characters are people they know or can identify with. For others, it might be eye-opening. People who go through what the main character Cami experiences are not simply statistics, nor are they invisible. My hope is that people will see this play and think about the preconceived narratives they have about others, and ask themselves if they see others as more than just a label.

Mabelle and “Feliz Cumpleaños” playwright Jordan Finley discuss the script

What are a few of the highlights of working with young writers?
I LOVE working with young writers. The perspective of a young writer is refreshing and exciting. Young writers are willing to take chances and play with characters. It’s also nice to keep up with the language and pop culture of a younger generation, and Jordan was kind enough to educate me. Who knew “tea” could be a verb?

Please feel free to include any other information or insights you wish!
In addition to being a playwright, Jordan is also a wonderful actress. Playwrights Project Executive Director Cecelia Kouma and I traveled up to UC Santa Barbara where Jordan is a freshman to see her perform as Charlotte in The White Card. Jordan is definitely going places, and I am lucky to have crossed paths with her. 

Mabelle, Cecelia, and Jordan at UCSB

The Plays by Young Writers Festival’s public performance will take place February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or at write@playwrightsproject.org.
Tickets can be purchased on Playwrights Project’s website.

Interview with Jordan Marie Finley, writer of “Feliz Cumpleaños” for Plays by Young Writers

Playwrights Project will produce its 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre on January 29 – February 1, 2020. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 561 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

How did you first get involved with writing?

Writing was the first academic subject I was told I was good at in school. I was in second grade and had to write a folk tale story for our class magazine, and mine was 42 pages long and earned the coveted spot on the cover page. After I learned how to write, I never stopped.  I developed a bump on my right ring finger from writing so much that still has not gone away. I didn’t get involved with writing professionally until junior year of high school, and Feliz Cumpleaños was my first experience with playwriting.

How did you come up with the idea for your script?

In my acting class senior year, we had a homework assignment where everyone wrote down a random place and then we drew one out of a hat. Whatever location you selected was to be the inspiration for a three minute scene you were to write and share in class the next day. The one I drew was McDonald’s. I don’t know if it was an article I had seen online or something on the radio I heard or simply a call to action from inside me, but whatever it was that day birthed the end scene of the play between Santi and Cami. In the original scene, he brought home McDonald’s and a store bought birthday cake. I didn’t ever sit down and think, “I’m gonna write a scene about deportation,” that’s just what it ended up being when it was time to create. it was certainly something I saw as a story that needed to be told.

What advice would you give to a peer as they embark on writing their first play?

Don’t try to be anything in particular as a writer: simply be. Don’t think about who you’re writing for. Write for you, whatever you need to write in that moment, and worry about the rest later. I had no intention of writing a full length play, let alone winning Playwrights Project’s California Young Playwrights Contest at the start of Cami and Santi’s story. Take your time living, feeling and seeing others, and then your first play will write itself.

Jordan visits with her dramaturg Mabelle Reynoso and Playwrights Project Executive Director Cecelia Kouma after her performance in “The White Card” at UCSB

Are you currently working to develop any other plays?

I have had an idea in my head for a play about a school lockdown ever since I experienced a real one in the sixth grade. I’ve finally been working on an outline for that, as well as a romance about a long distance friendship fueled via FaceTime, and a comedic play about what happens when the different sections of Twitter attend group therapy.

Your play touches on the vastly different experiences students across San Diego County may have.

San Diego is one of the most divided places I have ever been to and I did not even realize it until I moved away for college. In all my class icebreakers, whenever someone said they were from San Diego, all the other people from there would all say, “where?” and a multitude of presumptions were made about you as a human being based solely on what part of the 619 or 858 area code you’re from. There is a huge socioeconomic divide between the neighborhoods of America’s Finest City, as well differences in culture.

You’ve had extensive involvement in extracurricular activities and groups throughout San Diego. Can you tell us more about the groups you’ve worked with and describe any moments that stand out in your memory? In what ways have these experiences informed your writing?

The experience that most informed my writing of this piece in particular was being fortunate enough to work with ImpACT On Stage for the past year. My perception of my value in the performing arts skyrocketed during my time working with them, while simultaneously fulfilling a deep commitment and need I have to help others. With ImpACT, we do performances at local schools about topics affecting students today such as bullying, knowing how to help a friend who is struggling, and identity. It was a really transformative year for me to see how my role in theatre can positively affect the roles of others in the world, and I was so blessed to be doing work in the community along such a talented and diverse group of actors. A lot of the themes in the scenes we performed found their way into this play in some form, as they became naturally infused into my own values. For example, the idea of being an upstander instead of a bystander is definitely present in Feliz Cumpleaños, as Cami decides she is her own upstander when she discovers her friend  is actually her bully.

Jordan and Mabelle meet to discuss “Feliz Cumpleaños”

This play originally began as a 3 minute scene you wrote in your high school theatre class. What about your characters and their stories called you expand the scene into a play?

Every class you are in and any street you walk down has a Camila and Santiago, and you do not even know it. I grew up by the border, live in a predominantly Latinx neighborhood, attended predominantly white schools, and spent a lot of time hating things happening in our country, but always loving writing. I find it healing to my own experiences and as a way to understand others. Camila and Santiago are in the people I meet every day. They guided me to what needed to be said, needed to be done, and who I needed to become as a creator and a change-maker over the last few months.

What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?

No human is illegal, please vote, love everyone, and celebrate everything.

Do you plan to continue writing?

I’m a writing major, so I absolutely plan to continue!

What are your career goals and/or aspirations?

My dream is to work as an actor and screenwriter for television and film. I also would really like to get published soon. I have two poetry collections floating around right now I am trying to get picked up by a publisher.


Feliz Cumpleaños can be seen during Plays by Young Writers on February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or at write@playwrightsproject.org.
Tickets can be purchased on Playwrights Project’s website.

Interview with Aiko Lozar, writer of “Love is Blind: A Spoken Word Play” for Plays by Young Writers

Playwrights Project will produce its 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre on January 29 – February 1, 2020. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 561 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

Love is Blind: A Spoken Word Play
By Aiko Lozar
Age 15, Carlsbad
Directed by Ruff Yeager

How did you first get involved with writing?
My mom would always read to me when I was younger, and my dad is a writer. We would all bond over books – and every reader is a writer. As cliché as it sounds, I’ve always written. When I was younger, I would write books. I would only ever get to the 12th chapter or so until I got bored of it, but I live for literature. The author has complete control over the characters and storyline just up until someone else reads it. Then, it’s no longer theirs; each person dreams up a new world from the author’s words. Now, I write mostly poetry – I think I’ve accepted my short attention span – but writing will always be a passion of mine.

How did you come up with the idea for your script?
I was in the car one night in September 2017. I wrote down one line: “What’s black and white and red all over? Love is red.” I wrote Amber’s monologue – her ode to colors and what they symbolize – when I realized that color was too important to be taken away. I started to envision a world where color can only be achieved when someone falls in love. What if someone never fell in love? Could someone feel color?

I was so inspired by these questions that I crafted a character around color: Amber. Her name, her life, her ideals were all inspired by this common human experience. And what if she fell in love with someone dull and colorless? So was born Blake Colby (Blake – Black, Colby – Coal). I knew I didn’t want the ending to be happy, or else what would be the point of the piece? This story is a warning, a cautionary tale, of what would happen when we become too reliant on conformity and technology. If Amber lived her “happily ever after,” where would the caution be?

After originally developing the two-person script for a speech and debate competition, I developed the hour-length version to be student-produced. I was mostly interested in developing Blake as a three-dimensional character. What was he feeling during this story? Why exactly does he reject Amber? I also wanted to play with the idea of the ensemble. Ever since I became involved with theatre, I’ve been obsessed with an experimental ensemble. The sound of everyone talking and contributing to a story, building a world with their movement, draws on Greek theatre and what I hope to be the future of plays.

What themes are involved in your piece?
My piece revolves around love and technology. It tells the story of adolescence – the uncertainty of teenage years in a larger context. Something interesting I included in this piece was that the “villain” of this piece – society – has a valid argument. Eliminating love rids the world of divorce, violence and war. But at what cost? The message of the story is purposely not “black” or “white.” It is a discussion. As Blake states, “If this isn’t war, then what is?”

What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?
Amber’s mom may seem like a supporting role, but she states the principal idea of the entire piece: “Don’t let technology mistake you for what’s real and not real.” Technology, conformity, standardized tests, new dating apps, media presence … it all contributes to our new way of living and it bleeds into the world of romance. I use Amber and Blake’s love story as an agent to discuss why technology should not be implemented into all aspects of life. Love, being a basic human emotion, allows the audience to understand and relate to the characters. I knew I didn’t want anything to be too much of a stretch, but love seemed applicable because love is everyone’s story to tell.

Additionally, I want the audience to take away that love is a human need. Love from parents, friends, a partner: It all comes at a cost. As Amber states, “Thank you for making me fall in love with you even though it’s complicated.” In this way, we need to work to allow for love for all. The title says it all: Love is Blind, and it should be allowed to be.

What are your career goals and/or aspirations? 
After high school graduation, I want to major in Business or Film at a university in Los Angeles or New York. Most schools don’t offer a double-major in both film and business because both programs require a lot of time, but I know that I would want to major and minor in one or the other. My dream is to be a producer for film. I’ve toyed with the idea of editing film or editing literature; teaching; writing, etc. I’ve landed on one epiphany: I am a storyteller, and I want to tell stories. Whichever platform that may be, I am most content when I tell stories or allow stories to be told.

What advice would you give to a peer as they embark on writing their first play?
There are two ways, in my opinion, of starting a story:

1) Start with the message. Without the message, what is art? What do you want to tell the audience? This is your platform, your opportunity, to persuade the audience of a belief.

2) Start with a unique moment. As my New York Film Academy directing teacher once told me, “No two people bump into each other on an open sidewalk.” An event that sticks out to you that’s both real and special is the way to go.

Then, whichever method you choose, develop your characters. Do not look to other pieces of literature for this – look to reality. Every new iteration of a character stretches itself one more step away from reality. Now that you have your characters, what world do they live in? World-building is my favorite step, but it’s also the hardest, because everything must stay consistent – the characters should be both “changed” and “the changemakers.” After you have the world, the characters, and a unique moment, outline! The story should write itself.

One of the major areas of revision was to change the setting of your play. What did you discover about your characters by revealing them in a new setting?
I’ve discovered that this story is not one that depends on setting – it depends on characters. This story can be told any place, any time so long as there is Blake and there is Amber. The characters depend on basic human experiences – colors and love – to craft their tragedy, and this has inspired the director and dramaturg Ruff Yeager to tell it underground. If Love is Blind is produced in the future, it would be interesting to see a historical setting, or even a production set in present day.

You originally wrote and performed a ten-minute version of Love is Blind for speech and debate competitions. How have your characters evolved over these different lengths and iterations of your script?
Depth. My characters have evolved as I have, and as I have grown, so have they. They have matured and they have understood more of the world around them, but they also don’t have all or even most of the answers – like me.

As Stanislavski believes, the actor should not play at life, but be living. The characters must live in the world they’ve been given. So, depending on which world it is, the characters have changed accordingly. The most notable change has been Blake. In the original version, he had barely any lines and existed only as an agent for Amber to experience her story. In the second version, the actor playing Blake (Evan Boda) took his character to new depths. I saw his internal struggle and I witnessed his decision-making process. The other change would be Amber. Written originally as mousy and bookish, the actress playing Amber in the second version (Maddy McCarthy) was no mouse. She was strong, yet soft, and she allowed Amber’s arc to deepen onstage. I’m beyond excited to see how Playwrights Project’s professional production will contribute to my continued “getting-to-know” the characters.

You produced and directed Love is Blind at Carlsbad High School. Can you tell us more about the Student Production Club you founded at Carlsbad High School?
Student Production Club is a creative platform for students to write, direct, and produce their own theatrical and cinematic performances. It is the culmination of all of my biggest passions – film, theatre, business, and writing – and I created it to get other students as passionate as I am about those topics.

Collaborating with my peers brings me an exorbitant amount of joy. From inspiring students in the production to join theatre, pursue writing, or research film, it almost confuses me to characterize Student Production Club as a “club.” After all, some students have put in 50-100 voluntary hours after school per production – some more, some less.  It is a joy to watch Student Production Club grow, and it is beyond amazing to see the impact SPC has had on the community.

Are you currently working to develop any other plays?
A lot of my recent work has been with Student Production Club. Over the course of 4 months, the club brainstormed, outlined and wrote Oneirataxia, a dystopian story about a group of friends that break out of an institution for the creative. I helped write the script and directed the production, which was produced for public performance in mid-October. We sold out two out of three performances, and you can watch Oneirataxia online at: youtu.be/wLTWRRnb2UE. Student Production Club is currently working on a feature-length film. Right now students are applying to be a part of the film’s Writing Committee, and it should be released between September-December, 2020.

In terms of performing with Carlsbad High School’s Theatre Department, I just played Shelly in Almost, Maine and I plan on teching the upcoming production of Amelie.

Spoken word is an intriguing medium that you marry beautifully with theatre. How would you describe your history with spoken word poetry, and in what ways does spoken word enhance your script?
In seventh grade, I kept a journal of poems I would write as a release mechanism. It truly was the first time I saw poetry as a creative outlet.

My brother founded a Spoken Word Poetry Club in high school. My brother is my best friend, and I couldn’t help but look up to his style and passion. Freshman year of high school, I joined my brother’s club and began performing in Shakespeare Celebrity Sonnets and open-mics in the community. Sophomore year, I became the Secretary, and now I am the Vice President. I’ve stopped regularly performing my poetry in the club just because I love other people’s voices and stories so much that I would rather spend that time listening to others perform. Instead, I post my poetry on YouTube and use spoken-word as something unique to me.

My favorite part of spoken-word is that it is storytelling in a way that can be both calming and jarring. It is performance, but it’s also literature. I wanted to use this platform to show students that poetry is not boring or hard-to-understand. Poetry can be contemporary, relatable, accessible, and like the setting- futuristic.  


Love is Blind: A Spoken Word Play can be seen during Plays by Young Writers on February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm.

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or at write@playwrightsproject.org.
Tickets can be purchased on Playwrights Project’s website.

Photos courtesy of Geri Goodale of Reminisce Photography.