The Project: Playwright, “Esme’s Ice Cream Shop”
The Scholar: Anna Moran ’20
What Surprised Me: I was surprised how easy and enjoyable writing became when I found the right story to share. I began with many ideas that would have made fascinating plays, but for some reason my heart was not set on them and thus my early drafts turned out to be less than fascinating. I was asked to share what I am grateful for at a senior class assembly, and I told about how I am thankful for ice cream shops. It is where my grandparents met, and it is where my family reconvenes every summer. When I was struggling to tell my other story, I sat down and decided to have fun and tell the story of my grandmother, and the rest is history.
What I Learned: After writing my final draft, I visited the writing center and Mr. Liebowitz gave me the advice to read what I wrote aloud. As it turns out, written English often sounds weirdly formal when spoken. He told me if a character is mad, they do not eloquently tell their feelings, they usually use shorter sentences and in the heat of the moment they do not use elaborate wording. This helpful tidbit led me to the most interesting part of the storytelling which is what is not told, but rather what is shown. Ms. D then suggested I do a dreamlike sequence where no one talks, but there are lots of stage directions indicating what is happening. So other than the text, I had grammatical structure and action helping tell the story.
What Happened When My Play Was Performed: The most interesting part of my project was seeing these underlying parts come to life through the staged reading. The best part of hearing the monologue of Nina’s character was not the words I wrote but rather hearing how she added life to them. The way she paused at punctuation, the way she took stage directions, and the way she was able to capitalize on moments where I had put very little words. It was very interesting to see all the different tools I could use to make the words come to life.
What I Take Away from this Project: My research was years of listening and observing. I never met my grandmother, so everything I know is based on stories my dad, mom, aunts, and uncles have told me. I think the best stories come from within.