Writes of Spring is sponsored by

On Friday February 7th, Orlando Repertory Theatre (Orlando REP) and the University of Central Florida (UCF) Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) graduate students celebrate the 17th Annual Writes of Spring! This partnership has been celebrating the writing of young people across Central Florida for years, promoting literacy and creativity in students grades K-12. (Read about our 2020 contest winners here!)

What makes Writes of Spring unique?

Writes of Spring is a three-part creative writing program designed to offer students recognition for their writing and an opportunity to see their words on stage. Students submit creative writing pieces which are then are evaluated and scored, and then the winning entries are adapted into a brand-new theatrical piece produced by Orlando Repertory Theatre! Writes of Spring aims to celebrate and honor the voices of our young writers through the medium of theatre. It is not only the ideas from these entries that inspire the play, but the actual text written by students that finds its way into the dialogue of the script. This year’s theme is “How Can Your Life Change in Just 5 Minutes?” and has been adapted into a play titled Passage by Sage Tokach.

Each year, Writes of Spring is an opportunity to work on a production that has never been performed anywhere else. Working on a brand-new script has some great advantages to it, especially when the playwright is in the room with the actors. Director, Samantha Reser, loves this collaboration, “If I am struggling to understand a line, I can turn directly to Sage, the playwright, and ask her perspective on it. We have made some changes to the lines together to help the story flow better, which is something you can’t do with a previously published play. Those plays have also been workshopped to the point that line changes may not be necessary – we get the fun experience of workshopping Passage for the first time!”

What is the play Passage about?

Passage tells the coming-of-age stories of four friends who meet in second grade and experience significant events together as they grow up. These events are often highlighted by stories told by the characters. Some parts of the story are told through dialogue, and some parts are also told through movement pieces” describes Samantha. With writing from students in all grade levels, you can imagine that the subject matter of the entries is broad, with topics very lighthearted and some very emotional. Sage and Samantha have crafted a story, in print and on stage, that portrays a nuanced representation of what the young people shared about their lives in the submissions. These characters have vivid imaginations and you see those imaginations at play throughout Passage.

Samantha explains, “Our imagination changes as we grow older and start to explore new ideas – from superhero battles to fairytales to what our college lives might be like.” The characters also struggle with self-discovery. Think about the last time YOU let your imagination run wild over what other people may think of your choices, it doesn’t take much to let that imagination take you to extremes. Samantha reflects that the students control those urges and make choices about how they will respond to their friends growing and changing through the years, “With sexual preference, gender identity, and depression, a person can see their friend experiencing that and either shun them, bully them, or accept them – luckily, we see the latter.”

The cast is made up of young and adult performers. This kind of multi-generational casting is common at Orlando REP and a great tool for authentic storytelling. Working with the cast is one of Samantha’s favorite parts about this project so far, “I absolutely love getting to work with young actors, because I feel like they bring such a sense of eagerness to the rehearsal room. Passage is unique in that I now get to pair these young actors with experienced actors who are in or have graduated college with a theatre degree, and all together we explore what it means to have two people playing one character throughout the different ages in the character’s life.” 

What else can I expect if I come see the play?

The production on stage is not the only thing to look forward to. Writes of Spring holds a lobby event and celebration both before and after the show. Lobby Event Coordinator, Nathan Stout, encourages families to arrive early, “There is plenty to do! Upon coming into the theatre, guests receive a ‘report card’ with all of the activities available listed. When an activity is completed, a sticker goes on the report card. Get all of the stickers, and receive a secret reward! And, of course, there is cake after the performance to celebrate!” He goes on to describe why Writes of Spring holds a lobby event in conjunction with the show, “We hope that Writes of Spring is a memorable experience for both our winners and everyone who attends. That’s part of why we put effort into making sure that the experience that people have coming in and leaving the theatre is more than your typical performance. We want to celebrate the fact that students took the time and initiative to create art. It’s through experiences and opportunities like Writes of Spring that students discover that they can do big things and that they have it in them to create art that is worth celebrating.”        

The lobby aims to bring audiences into the world of the play. Nathan describes, “In the show, we get to see four kids grow up. As the school years go by, they change, find new fads, form new relationships, and define themselves. Within the “school” that is our lobby, there are activities that help us reflect on our past and think about our future. Some of the activities are about the things that we can do in the present. Some of them are just fun! But I hope that while having fun, guests will think about the things they experienced or are experiencing in school, and what things have brought them to where they are now.”

Each winner is recognized on stage after the performance.. Additionally, each winner will receive a copy of the script, a certificate of achievement, and a commemorative button. 

What are the details?

We hope you join us February 7th to support Writes of Spring and the writing of our Central Florida students! The event begins at 6:00pm and the show starts at 7:00pm. Tickets are free and can be reserved at the Orlando REP Box Office, 407-896-7365.

“Writes of Spring is another example of the strong partnership we have with the UCF Theatre department. Students from the TYA, Stage Management, and Acting programs all contribute to these productions and together we serve the students of Central Florida with an evening of theatre unlike anything else!” –Jennifer Adams, Orlando REP Director of Education

 

Writes of Spring 2020 team!

Administration

Project Coordinator………………………………………………………………………Morgan Cobb*

Playwright…………………………………………………………………………………Sage Tokach*

Education Coordinator………………………….………………………………………Joni Newman*

Lobby Activity Coordinator……………….…………………………………….Nathan Tanner Stout*

Lobby Assistant………………………………………………………………………… Mia Strickland*

UCF TYA Faculty Advisor…………..………………………………………………………Vandy Wood

UCF Stage Management Faculty Advisor……………………………….……………..Claudia Lynch

Orlando REP Sr. Director of Education………………………………………….……Jennifer Adams*

 

Production Team

Director…………………………………………………………………………………Samantha Reser*

Movement Directors…………………………………………………….Morgan Cobb*, Joni Newman*

Stage Manager…………………………………………………………………………Natalie Hoefling*

Assistant Stage Manager…………………………………………………………………Sophia Faust*

Assistant Stage Manager…………………………………………………………Rachel Montgomery*

Set Designer………………………………………………………………………Nathan Tanner Stout*

Sound Designers………………………………………………………………………Samantha Reser*

Lighting Designer………………………………..………………………………………..Tony Marshall

Sound Board Operator………………………………………………………………Cheyenne Dalton

Light Board Operator…………………………………………………………………….Tony Marshall

 

Cast

Young Elyse…………………………………………………………………………………Alexi Mulvihill

Young Stephanie……………………………………………………………….………..….Jade Harvey

Young Landon/Lane……………………………..…………………………………….……Javier Lopez

Young Dio…………………….………………………………………………………………Jimmy Soos

Older Elyse………………………..…………………………………………………………Jena Rashid*

Older Stephanie……………………………………………………………..…………….Kristen Pizzo*

Older Landon/Lane……………….………………………………..…….…………………Ren Watson*

Older Dio……………….………………………………………………………..…….Jonathan Montes*

Movement Ensemble…………………………………Sydney Breedlove, Lula Kasten, Trinity Soos, Ryleigh Lawton, Chloe Ramos

*UCF student or alumni

As our script is finalized for this special production, we want to make our audience aware that there are topics presented here which may be difficult for some viewers. These include gun violence in schools, a reference to suicide, and depression/mental illness. The characters are experiencing things that our writers find very relevant to current society, so please keep this in mind as you attend this performance.