J-DHS English Takes on Playwriting Festival

Sofie Brutseart and Lucy Falso

Staff Writers

Jamesville-DeWitt High school students in several English classes and electives wrote their own 10-minute plays, which they submitted to the Syracuse Stage Young Playwrights Festival. Winners will get the chance to see their plays performed live.

High school students throughout Central New York were given the chance to participate. All plays are due February 14, Valentine's Day, and semi-finalists will have the opportunity to attend a workshop at Syracuse Stage to discuss and critique their plays. Seven finalists will also get to see their plays performed by Syracuse University drama students, in a festival. “It’s pretty cool that they get to see them come to fruition on stage,” said English teacher Courtney Romeiser who had several of her sections enter. In addition, Ms. Romeiser says every kid who participates gets a t-shirt.

Students in creative writing, AP Language and some 10 honors English classes were required to join the contest and were all given around three class periods as well as time outside of class to complete the assignment. This sparked mixed reactions.“I think it was one of the dumbest assignments he has given, especially because we got no instruction and had to do it all on our own,” said sophomore Emma Galletta. “It did not better my knowledge of the English language at all,” she said. Sophomore Eden Shiomos also did not enjoy the assignment.“It was kind of hard because we had to get to around eight to 10 pages,” said Shiomos.

However, some enjoyed the break from routine. “I liked it because it was directed less towards the AP (test), and more about having fun,” said junior Alisa Salbert who wrote her play about a murderous child. “I’ve never done anything like this before but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said freshman Abby Morgan who is writing her play about a detective who is solving a case, for her creative writing class.

“It’s pretty open with topics. They can pick anything they want to,” said Ms. Romeiser. Although participants are limited to 10 pages of script, and only four characters, they are free to write about whatever topics they choose. “Some of the stuff can get pretty edgy,” said English teacher Matt Phillips. Students also have leeway with the format they choose to write in. For example, students can choose to write monologues, or short poems. “There’s always really zany fantastical stuff,” said Mr. Phillips. “We had a girl who a number of years ago did an entire play in Dr. Seuss style rhymes. We had a monologue where a girl was breaking up with her shoes.”

Teachers in the English department have had students participating in this contest the last seven or eight years, and Mr. Phillips says he has had award winners every year. The contestants who made semi-finals should be announced about a month after Valentine’s Day, however Mr. Phillips expects there will be winners this year as well.