My Experience with Young Playwrights’ Festival and My Play ‘Room’ by Jarid Shields

It has been been almost a month since my play, (Room), was performed at Young Playwrights’ New Play Festival and I can honestly say that it was one of the best moments in my life so far!

Jarid watches the performance of her play 'Room.'
Jarid watches the performance of her play ‘Room.’

When I submitted my script last year in my eleventh grade IB Theatre class, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in what I wrote. I’ve always had a soft spot for writing; however, I never put much stake in my own capabilities. I thought that my play was too rushed, that the dialogue between the characters sounded fake and forced, and that there was no way that the piece that I had written deserved any reward other than a first class trip to the deep dark wells of my computer’s hard drive.

You can imagine the surprise and utter disbelief I felt when I got an email in early January saying that my play had been chosen for this program. I was honestly speechless at that point in time. When the shock wore off, I immediately forwarded the email to my mother and my theatre teacher. That’s when the excitement started to kick in.

A few weeks later I found myself sitting in my school’s library with my assigned dramaturg, Ms. Langsdorf, who was friendly and open and gave me a lot of advice on how to make my script better. I found the dramaturgy process highly rewarding! Being able to sit down with a dramaturg allowed me to see the potential in my writing and also understand the importance of the editing process. It was also nice to have a fresh pair of eyes look over my script, because there were a lot things that I had missed or even forgot to write!

Jarid Shields.
Playwright Jarid Shields.

My favorite moments of the program were definitely the rehearsals with the actors and, of course, the final performance! It filled me to the brim with pride to see my original piece of work presented to an audience. I appreciated the fact that all the adults and professionals that were involved in the program treated my work with respect and always made it a point to involve me in production decisions. I even got to give my opinions on sound effects!

I also really enjoyed watching the plays of my fellow playwrights be performed as well! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a play than I did when Ron Versus the Living Homework was performed. Evil, anthropomorphized homework with well-timed comedy all wrapped up in a Twilight Zone pastiche? What’s not to love?

Reflecting back on my time with Young Playwrights’ Theater has made me think about how so many unique stories are hidden within the crevices of people’s minds and how beneficial this program and programs akin to it are for young, aspiring artists. There are kids out there in the world who have stories that they want to share. Programs like Young Playwrights’ give these children the platform they need to get their stories out and get their creative juices flowing!

A snapshot taken for the play 'Room.'
A snapshot taken for the play ‘Room.’

There isn’t a thing that I would change about this program! I hope that everyone at Young Playwrights’ Theater knows how much of a confidence booster this experience was for me and how much their encouragement and support meant to me. I cannot thank them enough!

‘From Script to Production: My Journey with YP’ by Marisa Poe.


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