J-D Students Rock Syracuse Stage Competition

By Ellie Wheeler and Sarah Carlsen

Staff Writers

Lights, camera, write. The Young Playwrights Festival is held by Syracuse Stage yearly for Central New York high school students. Many Jamesville-DeWitt High School students have submitted their plays throughout the years, and some have been rewarded with seeing their plays come to life in front of their eyes. This year’s finalists included JDHS students senior Sophie Leavitt and junior Aliyah MacCrindle who were two of the eight finalists this year.

Senior Sophie Leavitt wrote a play named “Alice” about two girls who wished they had gotten to know their friend better before she committed suicide, and who reflect on the time they had with her before the tragedy. Leavitt wrote the play in Creative Writing, which is taught by English teacher Matt Phillips. “I had some late assignments, so Mr. Phillips said that I could make it up to him by entering my play in the competition,” said Leavitt. If Leavitt was not required to do this to make up the work, she says she probably wouldn’t have thought about entering the contest. The play took Leavitt only a couple of days to complete. Before Mr. Phillips talked to Leavitt about the competition her story had just been a free writing assignment in class. “I basically only had to add the stage directions, most of the story was already written from Creative Writing,” said Leavitt. Mr. Phillips helped Leavitt by reading over her entry and giving her feedback.

Leavitt said she was nervous at first and anxious to see her results. Leavitt thought it was an “ok” play, so she was surprised by the outcome. “I wasn't really expecting it at all, (because) I’m not usually the one to win something,” said Leavitt. Leavitt was also given the opportunity to watch Syracuse University students perform a live reading of her play. Leavitt was thrilled to see her play read aloud but was disappointed her audio visual content wasn’t incorporated more. “Because I added a lot of audio-visual content to the play, I would've liked to see it fully acted out with that included.” The University students had been handed the scripts onset and read directly from their booklets while standing on the stage. “I write for myself, but it was nice to be recognized for my work,” said Leavitt.

Junior Aliyah MacCrindle also saw her play come alive on the Syracuse stage. “Hearing my play read aloud was amazing. I couldn't have asked for anything better,” says MacCrindle. MacCrindle was in the same boat as Leavitt, she had an assignment missing and Mr. Phillips gave her the option to make up the work for her Creative writing class by writing this play. Unlike Leavitt she had nothing previously written and so wrote the entire script during her brothers band concert. “It was really random,” says MacCrindle. “I almost didn't get it in in time because I couldn't find (english teacher Joe) DeChick, so I had to give the information to (principal Paul) Gasparini to give it to him!” says MacCrindle. Her play was about how everything in the world now is plastic. “The play was really depressing,”MacCrindle said. MacCrindle’s play was called “Demons and Desporation.”