Students and teachers collaborate on script for competition

The cast and crew of


The cast and crew of "Shh... It's Coming" led the creation of the script for their performance in the State Drama Festival. The students improvised scenes that helped to build the plotline; this year, the group explored teenage anxieties, representing them with a physical being. The scenes also developed characters such as the monster and the location, summer camp.

Anoushka Mallik, Staff Writer

Shhh It’s scripting!

The process of writing the statewide competition play, this year titled “Shhh It’s Coming”, is a collaboration with equal input between students and teachers. The collaborative process allows for the play to grow and improve.

The process begins with an idea sprouted by drama teachers and co-directors, Mary Mastandrea and Mark VanDerzee. This year, their idea came out of a desire to connect the idea of teen anxiety with the horror  film “It” through a newly written piece.

“We start out with an idea or a concept as a launchpad to give the students. This year it was the title,  ‘Shh it’s coming.’ Then we give the students a series of prompts to create scenes about and then discovery happens,” VanDerzee said.

According to senior Isidora Savic, the production assistant, the students then create short improvised scenes based on prompts given by Mastandrea and VanDerzee. A discussion follows where they decide on aspects of the scenes that they like and then continue working until they have an idea of the script.

“Eventually once we see things we like in each of those scenes, we talk about it and we pick elements that we like and want to keep,” Savic said. “Then we add those to the prompts and work with those until we get a pretty solid idea of what we want to do,”.

According to junior Clay Baker-Lerner, the script is created by taking aspects of the improvised scenes and putting them into the script. In this year’s production, some of the scenes taken from improv included the campfire, ghost story, and swimming scene.

Mastandrea described how some of the scenes the students improvise build a foundation for the play, even if they are not used in the final script.

“One of , for example, is the college dining hall scene. We’re not doing anything of that in our current play, but in essence it was that idea of a group of kids together without adult supervision. From there we made the leap to a summer camp,” Mastandrea said.

According to Baker-Lerner, the script is extensively edited because of the amount of students who give creative input.

“Every single person would hear every single edit, and every single person was able to weigh in on what they thought about the edit,” Baker-Lerner said. “It was never that one person would just take it and run with the script, it’s very much a group effort,”

Savic described that overall, writing a script is unique, and creates a positive experience.

“It is such a different experience,” Savic said. “Something a lot of kids will not get to do.”

Mastandrea described that she enjoys writing the play because it is collaborative between teachers and students.

“It allows us to be really flexible in our casting, it allows kids to have a lot of ownership of the piece and their characters, we invent something new every year, we create a new play, a new product,” Mastandrea said.