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Sydney Yockey, Playwright of “The Spirits of the Bells”

March 18, 2011

Sydney was 11 when she co-wrote The Spirits of the Bells with her friend Kaylin Jeanne Greisen.  It won the 2010 California Young Playwrights Contest and will be presented as a staged reading at the Lyceum Theatre April 1-10, 2011, in our Plays by Young Writers festival.


How did you first become involved with writing?

The year I was in kindergarten, I needed a Christmas present for my dad. I knew my dad liked to read, so I decided to write him a book. It was only a one page story with no apparent plot, but he loved it. I decided to write more just for fun. Over the years, my writing has become longer, more refined, and with an actual theme.

What themes are involved in your piece?

Friendship is a major theme in The Spirits of the Bells. The whole story is about how two unlikely people end up being the best of friends. Another big theme is making your own decisions. In the play, one of the spirits is trying to control the decisions that the other two spirits make, but in the end they do what they want to do. This is important to me because you can’t let other people control what you do because at the end of the day, it is your life and nobody else’s.

Do you identify with a particular character?

I think I can identify mostly with Sorrow, the main character. We are both good leaders, but can be a little stubborn at times. She is always looking out for her family, and I am looking out for mine. I can also identify with Grace, though. At the beginning of the play, she was lonely and looking for a friend. I switched to a new school this year and was really nervous about making new friends. At first I was a little on my own, but now I have a great group of friends that I can rely on.

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

Again, friendship is the key. I want the audience to learn that friendship is one of the most important things in life. It has its ups and downs, but true friends really help you through hard times. I also want them to take away the message of “Stand up for what you believe in.” Make your own choices, even if people are pressuring you to choose something else. If you want something or have faith in something, defend it. Sorrow (a spirit) defends her friendship with Grace (a human), and Joy (a spirit) defends her choice to become human. 

Do you plan to continue writing?

Absolutely! I want to choose a career in writing, so the more I write the better. I am actually planning to submit another play to Playwrights Project [for the California Young Playwrights Contest] next year. I love writing, and now it has become my hobby. When I am bored, I write!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That is a question that I have many answers for. I love to write, so maybe a career as an author or journalist. I also make movies with my friends, so something in the movie industry. I can’t decide if I want to be on stage, running the camera, or sitting in the director’s chair. There are just so many options! Overall, I either want to be an author of some sort, or something in the movie industry.


The Spirits of the Bells will be performed in the Plays by Young Writers program on Saturday April 2 at 7:30 PM, Friday April 8 at 7:30 PM, and Saturday April 9 at 2:00 PM at the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza.  Tickets are $12-$50; more information at

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 24, 2011 10:34 AM

    Sydney was also featured in an article in the La Jolla Patch. Check it out here:

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