Guest blogger Jeannette Brasher is a contributing playwright for PUPfest 2009.
This past week, I have been watching the PUPfest rehearsals for my play, The Perfect Plot. I feel extremely honored that my play was chosen to be performed, since before this year, I didn’t even consider myself a playwright. The Perfect Plot is actually my first play and was written as an assignment for the Advanced Playwrighting class at Booker T. Washington High School, my alma mater. I was only supposed to write a scene, but I got rather carried away and found myself writing an entire play in one night. The assignment called for us to pick a playwright and create a scene inspired by that playwright. The playwright I chose was Edward Albee, and although I followed his basic style, I was able to create my own original story and characters.
Although the characters are rather unlikeable people, I have grown to love them after seeing them portrayed by two different casts. My play was chosen for short plays at Booker T. and, like PUPfest, the plays are staged readings organized by the playwrighting class. I wrote the play to be rather flexible in terms of interpretation, and it has been fascinating to see different portrayals of the same characters and new takes on certain situations in the play. Different directors have different visions for the play and different actors create different background stories for each character. They have helped me to add new levels to the characters I wrote, which led me to consider things I’d never even thought of before.
The reason I think PUPfest is so brilliant is that it allows special attention to be given to the playwright. In most cases, the playwrights have little say in how their plays are performed, and they are rarely present for rehearsals. In the case of PUPfest, however, the idea is to satisfy the playwright. Although playwrights do not get to direct the actors, they are allowed to make suggestions to the director in terms of acting and presentation of the play, and each playwright is given a mentor to help them with tweaks and changes in the play. All of this is done to ensure the playwrights are able to see their plays in the way closest to how they had imagined them.
Hearing people read words I have written, and having an audience actually sit down and listen to those words, is a kind of honor unlike any I have ever felt. Usually I’m onstage and portraying the characters; this time, I get to sit behind the scenes and watch everything blossom from something I have planted. It gives a person a different kind of adrenaline than the “butterflies in stomach” feeling right before one goes onstage, but it’s an exuberant feeling, nonetheless.
I have acted in PUPfest several times in the past, and I am very glad that my last year of participation in PUPfest has been about me, the writer. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always come up with crazy, fantastic stories and poems in my head, and many times they’ve ended up on paper. Writing is a method of creativity, but it’s more of a relaxation than a burden. It’s a form of therapy, a pleasant hobby and an imaginitive outlet. I look forward to doing more writing in the future, and maybe even writing some more plays. Junior Players has taught me so much through the years, and PUPfest, although it’s only a week, has left lessons that will follow me throughout my entire life. I am very grateful to PUPfest for those lessons, as well as the fun I’ve had and the friends I’ve made. I hope it continues to be successful, and that many students continue to take advantage of all the wonderful things it has to offer.