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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Fall 2022 Playwriting Project: Engaging, If Inconsistent

Daniela Melgar
The cast and playwrights behind the fall 2022 Playwriting Project. Photo Courtesy Daniela Melgar.

The ninth annual MIHS Playwriting Project showcased five short plays written and performed by Drama 2 students. The program, produced in collaboration with Youth Theatre Northwest, culminated in an inspiring performance on Thursday, Oct. 20.

“I think [the plays] turned out great,” Milo Mechem-Miller said. “I am very happy with how everything turned out.”

Most of the plays were entertaining and brilliantly executed. It was apparent that the writers had clear visions and the actors were able to present their own interpretations of the characters. The tech and backstage work also played an extremely important role in making the five plays amalgamate, especially through the smooth lighting and music transitions.

The show opened with “Adventures in Multi-Level Marketing,” a wacky story of friendships within a high school club written by Christopher Burnside and directed by Sonya Shaw. The plot follows three teenagers who start an M.L.M. (Making Lots of Money) club and have to deal with confronting their insecurities. The main character Lula Roe, played by junior Annabel Rimmer, starts the club and struggles with developing meaningful relationships while trying to make a name for herself.

Although the play was entertaining and bubbly, the message regarding insecurities in high school was concealed by the humor and overly-enthusiastic characters, which made it difficult to understand what message was being conveyed. Because of this, Lula Roe’s dramatic monologue at the end of the play felt abrupt.

The next production was an incredible display of anxiety and relationships between teens and their parents. “Are You Proud?” written by Giovee Roque and directed by Tony Bonnici, follows a transgender high school boy in conversation with his past self, exemplifying the unexpected changes that occur during the process of growing up.

The performance was truly intriguing and completely drew us in. The story was a moving portrayal of teenage anxiety from family, friends and school. The surge of feelings during the climax of the play was emotionally resonant as Xander (played by Mechem-Miller) expresses his mental health to his parents. The actors poured their heart and soul into every line and Roque’s script demonstrated a mature grasp of high school realities.

“It is a fine line to walk to be able to draw from your own emotions and give a good performance, but be able to separate yourself from the character so that it doesn’t affect you in your personal life,” Mechem-Miller said. “I have a lot of acting experience and one of the things that I have definitely learned is incredibly important when you’re acting in something that’s heavier is really taking the time to step in and out of the role.”

Following Roque’s play was the heartfelt and emotional “Love Is In the Air,” written by Meredith Weaver and directed by Cory Southwell. In the play, four teens (played by Brielle Gradek, Kyle Gerstel, Izzy Ferrari and Jonathan Aggar) battle with their feelings for fellow classmates. The plot takes a sharp twist from a typical back-and-forth “boy meets girl” dynamic to a realization of the characters’ sexualities.

Weaver’s story demonstrates how society remains fixated on heteronormative relationship standards. The climax of the play was a shocking revelation that three of the four characters are LGBTQ+, which cleverly subverts traditional expectations of a romantic story arc. Not only were the actors extremely talented in their portrayal of puzzled teenagers, but the tech team made the lighting seamlessly transition between scenes, clarifying our understanding of the plot.

“I felt very confident and comfortable with the actors in my act and was excited to showcase all of the work we had put into it,” Gradek said. “Because we had the playwrights alongside us while blocking the plays, I was able to ask my playwright questions about my character to really understand her background; when we do larger plays written by professionals, we don’t have [that] opportunity!”

As the night progressed, we got to view “Disconnected,” written by senior Madi Chew and directed by Mike Lion. The play follows two sisters who discover that their microwave stops time. Compared to the other shows, the text focused less on the importance of family or friendship—although the time-stopping microwave was creative, we were not particularly entertained and we were confused about what to take out of watching it.

The evening wrapped up with “Three’s Company, Four’s a Party,” written by junior Zoya Firasta and directed by Beau Prichard. It was an ominous thriller about four people forced to work together to escape a locked room within ten minutes while confronting their trauma.

While it was entertaining and well-acted, it was slightly confusing: what was the significance of choosing these people? What was the antagonist’s motivation? We feel as though the ending left the characters’ backstories unresolved.

Overall, it was an extremely entertaining and impressive collection of plays despite the short production process. “Having more time would have definitely been to our favor,” Mechem-Miller said. “A lot of the things that we were scrambling with last minute were tech elements; this was our second run of the show ever, so having that extra time would have been lovely.”

The show was amazingly performed and there was some truly brilliant writing. Many audience members came out with new understandings of the world as well as smiles on their faces. Despite the inconsistent quality of the plays, the show was engaging and impressive. 

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About the Contributors
Kira Lancaster
Kira Lancaster, Graphics Manager
Kira Lancaster (she/her) is a sophomore at MIHS and the Graphics Manager for The Islander. She enjoys music and dance and is part of the Mercer Island Drill Team at MIHS. Outside of school, her hobbies include drawing, writing and singing. Her favorite animal is a scorpion!
Julia Weisfield
Julia Weisfield, A&E Editor
Julia Weisfield (she/her) is a sophomore at MIHS and is the Arts and Entertainment Editor. Outside of school hours, she enjoys reading, skiing and traveling to new places. Julia is a 2nd year member of the MIHS Drill team and the MIHS Islander.

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