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Twin Beach Players’ Kids ­Playwriting Festival

Come to hear kids tell you what’s on their minds

   Scene: An up-and-coming Bayside town. The building, a Boys and Girls Club, is charming in a functional way, surrounded by playgrounds and parking lots, filled with laughter and noise. Rooms are utilitarian. Walls are speckled with flyers for team meetings and reading club dates.

            Despite its sensible nature, the building shimmers with the energy of kids unleashed.

            Here teens and pre-teens are prepping for the first of a series of long nights of tech week, when the elements of a show (lighting, sound, props, etc.) are brought together to create the final, complete ­production.

 

Reporter: Have you done shows before?

Cast: Lined up before the reporter, some nervous and quiet, others nervous and giggly, mostly nod their heads yes. A few pipe in that this is their first.

 

Reporter: What’s different here?

Girl 1, Summer: It’s different because it’s just us.

Reporter: How so?

The Cast: Chiming in … this play was written by a teenager, is being directed by a teenager and is cast with all teenagers. Plus it’s being given respect in a festival that will be attended widely by the community.

Girl 2, Sommer: Working together is the best part. I mean, in other shows I might not say something if I’m confused or have an idea.

Boy 1: Yeah, here we just say whatever. I wouldn’t disagree with an adult director. But here, I say what I’m thinking.

•     •     •

 

            For 12 years, Twin Beach Players has produced the Kids Playwriting Festival. Its tagline — Six plays written by kids … performed by kids! — tells only part of the story. The rest is enthusiasm, courage and hard work.

            Twin Beach Players president Kate Harrison, festival director ­Sherry Lehnen and the other adults in the company take pride in this annual project. Each spring students from elementary through high school statewide are invited to submit an original play. This year’s call brought in nearly 30. Six were chosen for production, by playwrights Sidney Baker, Riley Fervor, Aaron McDaniel, Paige Plater, Sadie Storm and Cameron Walker.

            The $100 award is nice, but staging, they say, is the true prize.

            “The best part is seeing it come to life,” says 14-year-old Aaron McDaniel, whose previous experience was backstage.

            His play, “It’s Life,” is a story of bullying. As a boy thinks about ending his suffering, he falls, is knocked unconscious and is visited by three angels.

            “Personal experience. It happened to me,” Aaron says of the inspiration for his first play. “There’s some funny stuff in there too. Because it’s life. That’s how it works.”

            Eleven-year-old Paige Plater’s “Every Bully Has a Story” shows kids grappling with this issue at a different level.

            About a bully she knew, Paige says, “he wasn’t being taken care of, and he was sick and hurting.” So her goal is to “make adults aware of bullying from the kids’ perspective and the bully’s

perspective.”

            The four other plays vary more widely, with lots of humor, thoughtfulness and creativity.

•     •     •

 

Scene: Back in the interview room with the line up of young actors.

Reporter: Which play are you putting on?

Girl 1, Summer (loudly over the crowd): “Reading Between the Lines.”

 

Reporter: What’s it about?

Girl 3: So this girl goes to New York to be a photographer, and she meets these people who run this magazine …

Girl 4: But then there’s this other guy who …

Girl 5: And I play the… …

            Entire group laughs and talks over each other to share the premise of what appears to be a fun and complex story line. Lights fade.

 

Twin Beach Players’ Kids Playwriting Festival: Aug. 4-13: FSa 7pm, Su 3pm, Twin Beach Players, North Beach, $7, rsvp: www.twinbeachplayers.org.