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Wed, Nov. 13

Young playwrights take their stories to the stage

Casandra Kennedy has wanted to be a writer since before she could read or write.

"I would come up with stories to tell my siblings and parents. That was before I could write," the Bradshaw Mountain High School senior said.

Casandra earned a second place at the Prescott Center for the Arts Second Annual 2012 Young Playwrights Festival for her play "Shampoo." She is a member of the BMHS Advanced Drama class, and said both her parents, Cathleen and Kevin Kennedy, are "huge readers."

Liberty Traditional School seventh-grader Devon Bonelli won a spot in a three-way tie for third place for his play "Project Deception," a murder mystery.

Devon, 13, said his play is about a girl whose fiancé - if he had lived to propose - gets shot and thrown off a cliff. The main character must uncover the murderer's identity. He said he gets inspired with an idea and knows how it ends, and then goes back to fill in the middle.

Devon also volunteers at his former school, Granville Elementary, as a math tutor and helps in the art and drama clubs. He plays clarinet in the LTS band, takes lessons on the guitar and violin, and is class representative on the student council. His future plans include studying two- and three-dimensional art at Tri-City Prep, and earning a scholarship based on his grades, art or music performance, to Cambridge - his first choice - or MIT.

While revising his play, Devon said he lost the last half when the computer crashed an hour before deadline.

"It actually was a good thing," he said about rewriting the final portion. "I added some things I probably wouldn't have."

Casandra said her Language Arts teacher showed her a flyer less than a week before the deadline in November. She wandered the library shelves for inspiration, finally finding a volume on 1950s history.

"'Shampoo' is what you need after 'Grease' and 'Hairspray,'" she said, referring to lighthearted musical productions set in the '50s and '60s.

She ran the script past a couple of her friends, asking them if it made sense, did it work, and was it funny, then sent it in.

Her favorite playwright is - who else - the Bard himself.

"I love Shakespeare. I want to be an English teacher so I can teach Shakespeare to teens," she said. "Some don't like him, but it's because they weren't exposed to it the right way."

Drama teacher James Pyduck said he has students writing original scripts in the first semester of his Advanced Drama class. He and the Language Arts teachers coordinate the assignment within the writing curriculum.

The Young Playwrights Festival takes place Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. at Franklin Phonetic School. Tickets are $5 at the door. All ten winning playwrights will receive recognition and prize packages from local merchants. Judges at the 6 p.m. performance will select one student to take home the Grand Prize of $150.

Other playwrights on the bill include first place winner Taylor Whittemore with "Untitled Greek Play;" third place ties Anna Flurry "C is for Cat," and Tiffany Whittemore "The Love of Life;" and honorable mentions Alaina Rowitsch "Izzie and the Ice Queen," Hanna Wiesner "Painting Memories," Gina D'Alessandro "The Debt to Society," Sarah Lemcke "Railroad Crossings," and Silas Wiesner "Treasure for the Tribe."

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