More precisely, this should read “The TA Players present an Aaron Lockman production: Student Written Play Night(s).” To be honest, the first student play festival at TA occurred in 2008, when five plays were produced. The key play that night was a 60 minute show written and directed by Jordan Coulombe. Plays by Sam Dunton, Clay Luopa, and others ran the range from spoofing Hollywood Noir films to monologues at a funeral.
This year’s student plays include: Sydney Curran’s Fix It; Robbie Faucher’s Mortimer; Hayleigh Morrow’s In Here; and Aaron Lockman’s Ghost Boy. The collection of shows runs for nearly an hour and a half, evoking both tears and laughter. All four shows were directed by the respective student authors. Aaron Lockman acted as the producer/organizer for the event, which grew out of an independent study project. Club advisor David Hanright kept a cautious distance from the students while they worked, allowing them nearly full control.
The following post is from the Sun Chronicle, a locally distributed paper in the Saco, Maine area.
Curtain rising on original TA student plays
Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 8:18 pm
By Kate Irish Collins firstname.lastname@example.org
If all the world’s a stage, as Shakespeare once said, then several dramatists at Thornton Academy in Saco are well on their way to success.
Next week the school will host a student playwright festival, featuring the original work of four students – recent graduates Aaron Lockman and Hayleigh Morrow, junior Sydney Curran and freshman Robbie Faucher.
The festival will also feature Thornton students on stage and backstage, according to Lockman, who is organizing the event, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday, June 13 and 14, at 7 p.m.
The plays to be performed are, “In Here,” by Morrow; “Mortimer,” by Faucher; “Fix It,” by Curran; and “The Ghost Boy,” written by Lockman.
He said eight plays were submitted for consideration in the festival. He initially chose five plays, which eventually got whittled down to the four that will be staged next week.
Lockman said he chose the plays based on their quality and how much “dramatic or comedic flair and style (they had) and (whether they) told a gripping, interesting and substantial story.”
“Some plays I got had no plot or the characters or were very derivative,” he said. “As an evening of entertainment, the student-written play festival needs to flow and have emotional ups and downs just as much as ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Cats.’ Therefore, I chose the plays keeping that in mind.”
Lockman described “In Here” as “darkly humorous” and a play that “tackles more serious issues through comedy and hyperbole. ‘Mortimer’ is a fantastical, hilarious, and farcical trip through an underworld of grim reapers, demons and lost souls that uses sardonic wit and likable characters to engage the audience.”
After intermission, Lockman said, “we (will) whack the audience with ‘Fix It,’ a darker tale of cruelty and tragedy that follows a schizophrenic girl’s struggles with injustice – our only completely serious play. And lastly, we ease out of the evening with my play, ‘The Ghost Boy,’ a lighthearted, yet (hopefully) sad story of ghosts, society and childhood.”
The student-written play festival was an independent study project for Lockman, who spent the first semester of this academic year using an 80-minute block of the school day “to write and read plays, figure out rehearsals, increase awareness (of the event) and generally just run the whole shebang.”
Lockman said the idea for a student-written play festival first came to him at the end of his junior year, when a play he wrote for the Maine Young Playwright’s Festival was selected for reading at a workshop.
“Beforehand, several friends and I had thought we would be performing the play on stage, and we came up with several costuming ideas and visual gags that ended up not being feasible in a workshop setting,” he said. “Although we all had a ridiculous amount of fun at the festival, it was a bit sad that some of our crazy ideas never saw the light of day.
“And that led me to think – how many others have had that experience? Shouldn’t there be a way for all those great plays that are just sitting on computers everywhere to see the light of day? So that’s (how the student playwright festival got) started.”
Although the student playwright festival has been a lot of work, and it had to be pushed off from its original date in early May, Lockman said he’s most looking forward to seeing the audience’s reactions.
He also wants the audience to “realize the immense writing talent that accompanies the acting talent they already see in the big productions at Thornton. (This school has) a veritable oil well of writing talent, and it’s often hard to display that.”
Curran said she was inspired to write her play, “Fix It,” when she thought about the “vulnerability of patients at mental institutions.”
The play is about a 16-year-old named Melissa, who has just been admitted into a mental institution and who, with the help of her admittance therapist, begins to come to terms with why she was sent there, Curran said.
“I want the audience to have a raw experience, but I’m also nervous that my play won’t be well received,” she said. “It’s really interesting because I haven’t had the opportunity to write a play before and I realized that I really enjoy it.”
Morrow said her play, “In Here,” is about a grown woman isolating herself from society by physically residing in a bathroom stall.
“(Then) in a dramatic turn of events, she overcomes her fear and enters the outside world, but not without someone new taking her place.”
Morrow said it took her about an hour to sketch out the rough draft of her play, once the idea came to her last summer.
“Student Written Play Night will not only serve as a wonderful opportunity for me, but also for all of the students in the TA Players community who have written, directed and acted for the upcoming event,” she said. “It is extremely crucial to see your written work read or performed on the stage, that way you can see what works well, what doesn’t work at all and edit the piece until it’s (ready) for professional production.”
Morrow initially submitted her play to the Young Writers Project at Portland Stage. Although it wasn’t selected for a staged reading at The Little Festival of the Unexpected, she still got help from the professionals at Portland Stage, who provided her with constructive criticism she used to rework her piece.
“Rejection is a very important part of the theater world,” she said, “because it makes artists strive to become better writers, actors, directors, etc.”
Faucher said his play, “Mortimer,” is really the first in a series of “in-progress short pieces that tell the story of Grimmothy Mortus Reaper, who’s nicknamed Grimm by his friends and known as Death professionally.”
He said “Mortimer” follows Death as he attempts to assist the recently deceased Daniel Smith by returning him to life.
“Death is threatened, however, by the scheming, if not particularly graceful Beelzebub, the less-than-adequate son of Satan, CEO of the Hell Corporation,” he said.
Faucher said his show is set in “UnderWorld Incorporated, a re-imagined afterlife where those in the ‘Great Beyond’ are nothing more than office jockeys who live and work exactly as the living do.”
He said the idea for the Grimmothy Mortus Reaper stories first came to him after watching Terry Pratchett’s “The Color of Magic,” which features a personification of death, a character in almost all of Pratchett’s books.
“I had written a treatment for a series of shorts after reading ‘The Wish List’ several years ago,” Faucher said, “in which I asked the question: ‘What if the ‘Great Beyond’ was actually a desk job? Eventually the character of Grimmothy Mortus Reaper was created, a fairly normal working man who just happens to be Death. The show (then) wrote itself.”
Faucher said the opportunity to have his work “not only seen, but performed, is amazing. This is probably one of the coolest things I’ve done in a while and I’m grateful to Aaron for getting this started.”
Faucher has also pledged himself to taking over Student Written Play Night and producing it as annual event, at least for the next three years he’s still in school.
“I will be taking up the mantel during the next three years, so stay tuned for more student-made creations,” he said.