LAKEWOOD RANCH — It’s one thing to read a script and then perform it on stage.
It’s another to do it in front of the woman who wrote it.
Canadian playwright Lindsay Price visited Lakewood Ranch High School theater students last week to conduct playwriting workshops with theater students and also work with student cast members of her original play “Somewhere, Nowhere” — a four-act play about what a person does after high school.
“It’s really a privilege most people don’t get to have or even that professional actors don’t get,” said Lakewood Ranch senior Kayla Taylor, who portrayed the character Echo Moss in the first performance of “Somewhere, Nowhere” on Dec. 2. “(Ms. Price) is awesome and really funny. She’s not scared to tell it how it is. She’s got this personality where you want to play and have fun but still be constructive.”
Price visited with the cast of “Somewhere, Nowhere,” for the play’s first read-through in October and at that time cast her vision of its characters. She returned last week, just in time for the show’s dress rehearsal, final practices and first public performance.
“(Working with the playwright) allows you to get more in-depth with the script, understand connotations and even hidden stories in the script,” said junior Rasheed Waliagha, who played the character of Pete Quinn.
Price, who specializes in plays for youths, said the experience was important for her as well.
“It’s a necessary part,” she said of having students perform the piece. “Plays aren’t finished until they’re seen and heard. They really have to be on their feet. It’s a very important part of the process to see the students in action.”
Based on students’ performances Dec. 2-3, Price now will make adjustments to her play — possibly changing lines or even cutting portions of it — before submitting it for publication. Students in the original performance will have their names on the transcript when it is sold to theater groups for use.
Although being the first to perform the play was thrilling, cast members also recognized the significance of the occasion.
“It’s a lot more nerve-wracking,” 18-year-old Zach Zimmer said. “You know the woman who wrote the play is sitting there watching. You can hear her pen scratching notes. We all want to impress the audience and give them a great show, but we want to impress her too.”
Drama teacher and play director Roxane Caravan said Price is the only playwright whose pieces have been debuted by students at Lakewood Ranch. Students at the school were the first to perform another of Price’s original pieces, titled “Shout,” about three years ago, Caravan said.
Caravan said she tries to bring in professional actors and other artists to teach students whenever possible.
“It gives kids an opportunity to get a real world experience in theater,” she said. “I teach playwriting as part of the curriculum but this enables the kids to actually see the process work. When you see a play, the playwright didn’t just write the play and get it published.”
Lakewood Ranch drama students will be taking a section of “Somewhere, Nowhere,” among other pieces to the International Thespian Society District 6 Festival in Ft. Myers this weekend.
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