Students who competed in the annual Scriptwriting Competition learned that penning a script to be performed by others takes guts, flexibility and a lot of trust.
“It’s a huge challenge to write something, put your heart and soul into it and then turn it over to someone else,” said Kate Berneking Kogut, associate professor of English/Creative Writing, adding that the script isn’t complete until someone else performs it. “It’s a collaboration.”
The Scriptwriting Competition challenges students to submit short scripts that are critiqued by professionals. The top scripts are then performed at a spring showcase. This year’s showcase was held in the Hugh Stephens Library Penthouse today and featured readings for four stage plays and one web series pilot.
Writers had a vague theme on which to base their stories: “lucrative death buttons.” Kogut acknowledged the phrase was simply a combination of random words selected by students.
A couple of authors took a literal approach to the theme. In Heather Beger’s “She’s Always at Her Best,” a seemingly innocent trip to a button shop becomes twisted when the shop owner realizes why her customer’s husband’s buttons are always popping off. She sells the distraught woman a special button that just might make her problems—or, rather, her cheating husband—disappear. Minuette Layer narrated the script, which was read by Haley Coburn and Emily Ritcheson.
Ritcheson’s script also had a “death button,” this time in the form of an actual weapon. In an exchange between husband and wife, read by Sarah Parris and Jamie Casagrande, audience members learn that nuclear arms and weapons are peddled in a briefcase and have already been used to annihilate populations. Just as the wife is fed up with her husband’s line of work, a malfunction in the death button he brought home causes panic.
Meme Dixon and Liz Konkel co-wrote their script, “Survival of the Fittest,” which also comes on the heels of mass chaos. Two strangers (read by Beger and Erika Westhoff) must work together if they’re going to escape cannibals on the loose. And Cheyenne Smith’s “Variables of Perception,” directed by Briannica Ponder, retracts the moves of a killer who just wanted to be left alone.
Minuette Layer took a different approach in her script, “Das Zeichen des Tieres,” which means “mark of the beast.” Directed by Emilie Kimberly, local actor Aaron Krawitz read the role of a Polish grandfather who, the audience concludes, survived the Holocaust. He refuses to speak of it until his granddaughter expresses an interest in getting a tattoo—a tattoo like his.
Following the showcase, the authors took questions from the audience, some who wondered what it was like to rely on others to read their works aloud. Most writers agreed that they appreciated performers’ efforts to improve the lines. But it’s also “surreal” to see one’s story being read by others, Ritcheson said.
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