Rye Neck High School students Madison Cole, Andrew Glener, Ruby Liebmann and Lily Peterson earned the top spots in a playwriting contest through the Phoenix Theatre & Arts Company’s inaugural Page to Stage Playwright’s Festival.
Over the course of several weeks, each student created their own characters and scenarios, and wrote their scripts before submitting their work to the festival in the Tailfeathers division. Recommended for students in grades 5-12, the festival challenged students to submit a one-act play or musical that interpreted this year’s theme of “Navigating Relationships.”
“No two plays were the same, and each one had moments of absolute innovation and dramatic excitement,” said teacher Scott Harris, who encouraged the students to enter the competition. “Any of their plays would be deserving of recognition, and so I’m thrilled that three of my students were semifinalists and Ruby Liebmann actually won the competition. Congratulations to all of my students for their creative work.”
Liebmann, a senior, was named winner of the Tailfeathers division with her “Prom Night,” which takes place during the most highly anticipated social event of every high schooler’s year. The story follows three girls as they navigate the difficulties of the night. An outspoken girl is ready to fulfill a decade-old promise, her more nurturing friend is hiding a secret and a high-achieving student believes her prom night is ruined.
Cole, a junior, earned a semifinalist award with “Should I Stay or Go,” which is set in New York City in a café break room. It follows the story of a young, struggling actor who feels discouraged and insecure about her abilities. She has to decide whether to stay in the city and continue her dream or go home and continue her teaching degree.
Glener, a junior, earned a semifinalist award with “The New Year’s Party,” which takes place on Dec. 31, 2021, when herd immunity for COVID-19 has been reached in the United States due to vaccines being administered. A young guy decides to throw a New Year’s party for the new year, 2022. He invites his girlfriend and two friends to celebrate the night together without masks and social distancing, but everything seems to go wrong. It might’ve been too soon for them to get together without taking necessary precautions.
Peterson, a junior, earned a semifinalist award with “Never Been Good at Goodbyes,” which is about two lifetime best friends, Claire and Oliver, living in Malibu as they navigate their way through high school. When Oliver finally spills life-changing news – he is moving to New York – Claire comes up with a plan to run away with him. Oliver’s feelings toward Claire are stronger than friendship but he thinks his love is unrequited. Both friends have yet to tell each other how they feel, but their emotions can only be held in for so long.
The students worked on their original, one-act plays as part of an assignment in Harris’ Advanced Acting class. While it was a daunting task, Harris said he was impressed by their creativity and the depth and breadth of their chosen subject matters.
The Phoenix Theatre & Arts Company will produce live performance of the students’ plays, which will be available to stream on April 10. According to the organization, the Page to Stage Playwright’s Festival was designed to recognize the work of local playwrights and provide artists of all ages an opportunity to improve their writing, enhance their craft and have their work performed in front of an audience.