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East Bradenton students named winners in playwright program

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Aaron Gordon, a Braden River High School sophomore, wrote a six-page script in approximately 30 minutes.

The Florida Studio Theatre obviously knows he is not short on talent.

His comedic play, which was entered in FST's Write a Play program, was an expanded version of a scene from a longer play he was creating in his spare time. 

Aaron Gordon, a sophomore at Braden River High School, says he was shocked to find out he was a winner of Florida Studio Theatre's Write a Play program.
Photo by Liz Ramos

“When I finished writing it, I thought, ‘This is a lot funnier to me than to anyone else,’” Gordon said.

He didn’t have the chance to get feedback about his play from his classmates as he was sick during the days students shared their plays in class and only shared it with his parents, Mark and Elyse Gordon. With only the positive comments from his parents, Gordon had no expectations when submitting his play for not only his theater class but also the Write a Play program.

He was shocked to find out he was one of 8,000 students chosen as a winner in the program.

The play Valerie Rettig, a freshman at Braden River High, wrote is based off a song.
Photo by Liz Ramos

Gordon’s play, along with Braden River High freshman Valerie Rettig’s play and Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary third grader Bryce Wilkinson’s play, will be performed at Florida Studio Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival on May 18. 

The event is not open to the public.

Inspiration came from various places for the playwrights. 

Wilkinson drew inspiration from his life when he lost a video game controller and he had to do chores to earn enough money to buy another controller. 

Rettig’s play was inspired by the song “Bird Song” by Juniper Vale. Her play revolved around a songstress who loses her voice and must recuperate before the festival celebrating the songbirds’ gift of music. 

Gordon used a scene in a longer play he was working on for his play about two writers who work for Disney who had to write a hit story in an hour. 

The three playwrights said as excited as they are to see their plays performed at the festival, they’re nervous to see if it’ll be executed as they envisioned. 

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Gordon said. “I wrote something they’re going to read and then memorize and perform. I’m curious how they make certain jokes because I think comedy is something where every joke can be taken 100 different ways.”

Bryce Wilkinson, a third grader at Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary School, is one of 20 winners in the Florida Studio Theatre's Write a Play program. He won for his play "The Problem."
Photo by Liz Ramos

Rettig said she hopes the message of understanding your self-worth and your “life isn’t determined by the world around you but by how you react to the world around you.”

Gordon, Rettig and Wilkinson all said they were not only excited to see their plays performed but also the 17 other winning plays. 

Wilkinson said he was nervous but excited to see actors from Florida Studio Theatre perform his play at McNeal Elementary. He said it was cool to see something he had written being performed on stage.



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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