Young Playwright’s Festival Aims to Find Pelham’s Next Shakespeare

Kate Soifer, Senior, Co-Editorial Director

What would you do if someone told you that you have one month to write, cast, direct, and produce your own theatrical production? Pelham students have gotten the chance to do just that as they raced against the clock to express their creativity, talent, and leadership this spring. On May 4, students brought to the stage a series of ten minute plays of their own creation, known as the Young Playwrights Festival (YPF). This year’s event, organized by seniors Nick Wessman and Priya Varanasi, has been a Pelham tradition for over a decade. There were a total of seven vignettes, with roughly 42 participants.

Wessman, who joined YPF during his freshman year, said, “I was on the fence about it at first because it sounded unlike anything I’d ever done before, but I fell in love with it and it’s been a great part of my high school experience over the past four years!”

Having started acting when he was very young, and continuing to be involved in productions throughout middle school and high school, Wessman was very excited to be selected as co-festival director this year.

He summed up the YPF experience as, “…a unique and very satisfying opportunity for students to express their creativity, leadership, and skills in an unconventional way.”

Many students participated in YPF this year. Freshman Sophia Leung has looked forward to joining YPF since middle school, and was involved in two plays this year.

Leung said, “It’s really cool to see how we’re able to put together a show by ourselves, without any other input by teachers. I’m really looking forward to opening, and I’m excited to see the other groups’ shows!”

All seven plays were student written and directed, with one written by The Pel Mel’s very own Gavin Woods, senior. The play, entitled All in a Day’s Work, went into the relationship of a couple fallen out of love. A few of the other plays included: Keyboard Confidence, a play that explored how high school students get caught up in participating in cyber bullying and the consequences it can have on an undeserving victim, written by senior Nick Wessman, and Inner Voices, a play that went into the insecurities many teenagers feel, but are afraid to voice, written by senior Kiera Mallinson.

Wessman said, “Everyone should do YPF! It’s a great way to get involved in theatre if you’ve never done it before. There are opportunities to write, direct, stage manage, and act in a low pressure environment.”