S. ABINGTON TWP. — Words.
On paper, they are just that. But on stage, they come to life.
Or at least that’s what a dozen Abington Heights High School (AHHS) students are finding to be true in the case of their own written words, 12 original plays and monologues, to be presented in the school drama society’s upcoming New Playwrights’ Festival. The event, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, is open to the public and admission is free.
Each piece is directed by its author and performed by other students, with a total of about 30 people involved in the festival. Some of the playwrights/directors are also acting in their peers’ productions. Although the entire event is overseen by Abington Heights Drama Society advisor and English teacher John Zachary Monahan, it is a fully student-driven production.
Monahan explained part of the festival’s purpose is to “allow students to have ownership over writing, directing and the acting process and learn what it’s like to see something from conception all the way through.” He added it also gives the students a “creative outlet” and brings their ideas into public view.
“So far, it’s going well,” he said. “It’s been nice to see how the actors are bringing life to the words.”
Playwright/director Max Earl, a senior, also voiced this concept.
“I enjoy watching the actors take the characters and really bring them to life,” he said.
Earl’s piece, titled “Hot Coffee,” is about two wealthy businessmen who engage in conversation over coffee at a small diner. Unaware of who may be listening and the effects their words may have, the men eventually land on the topic of poverty and start disparaging the homeless.
Earl said he sees the play as a means of connecting with people in a way that makes them stop and think.
“I enjoy the process of writing, and I also enjoy seeing how expressing different social issues can cause people to think about things in a different way,” he said.
Benjamin Kontz is another of the festival’s playwrights/directors to tackle a heavy topic. His piece, titled “Still Life,” centers on a married couple facing a miscarriage. An intense argument between the two characters ensues in the doctor’s office, also bringing to light the topics of drug addiction and gender roles.
“I want to pursue this as a career, so I wanted to write something more dramatic,” explained Kontz, adding it is a “challenging” script.
He said the best part of being involved in the festival is working with his fellow students.
“I’ve really enjoyed seeing all of the talent within my classmates, working with them and collaborating,” he said.
Another playwright/director, Zoe McGlynn, a freshman, took a lighter approach to her writing. Her play, titled “Incredibly Dull,” is a comedy about an older Ukrainian woman who goes for a job interview at a convenience store and outsmarts the person in charge.
Although she had acted before, McGlynn said this is her first time in a directing role, and she loves it.
“Being able to interact with the actors has been neat,” she said, adding the best part is helping to “bring out the best” in them.
The other students who wrote and are directing monologues or short plays in the production include Eliezer Caminero, Emily Williams, Cary Lenahan, Karley Feather, Sawyer Rippon, Halle O’Neil, Curt Murphy, Sara Lesneski and Maria Bordonaro.