Student Feature Fridays
This week’s Student Feature Friday is 11th grader Maya Rosen whose contributions to the program have made a big difference for Theater 370. Maya began writing plays in 9th grade and recently submitted her play ALL SALES FINAL (featured in the Student-Directed One Acts in February), along with other writing pieces to the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards contest. Her hard work was rewarded when she won a Silver Key for her play and a Gold Key for an editorial cartoon she created. In addition, Maya was a semi-finalist in another writing competition and is still waiting to hear back from others.
Maya gained additional writing experience through her AP Language & Composition course at HHS where she further developed her own sense of style and voice through the writing process. Participating in everything Theater 370 has to offer (Fall Musical, Student-Directed One Acts, METG and Spring Play) has expanded her own acting and directing abilities as a student producer, demonstrating her leadership abilities. As she thinks about her future after high school she is looking to study English or Creative Writing in college with hopes to work in education or script writing…or maybe both simultaneously for her career. Maya brings an energy and light to everything she does and Theater 370 is the lucky beneficiary of her talents.
Interview with Maya:
Q: You have recently won a few awards for writing. Can you share a little about how you approach the writing process?
A: Whenever I have an idea for something I want to write, the first thing I do is share it with others. For me, feedback is the most important part of the writing process and I like to know what other people think about it from the very beginning. I did this when I started writing my one-act play about a year ago, and I gained a lot of support and suggestions in the process, most of which came from people who ended up being in the show months later. Throughout the process, I continued to have people review my work, and once finished and cast, I had actors give me feedback as well, and even suggest lines they thought should be added. This helped create a more collaborative process and helped motivate me through creating a longer piece.
Q: During our conversation you mentioned that writing dialogue for plays is of great interest to you. What is it like for you to see actors performing your dialogue?
A: Seeing actors perform my dialogue is definitely a nerve-racking experience, but it is also a very rewarding one. You get a kind of instant feedback that you can't get from written word alone. It's especially important in a comedic show like mine, because you can hear the delivery and see other actors' reactions as they read it, and you can easily tell if something is going to come across the way you want. The first time I heard anyone read my script aloud was at auditions, and even though I was the person that was supposed to be judging them, I can safely say I was far more nervous than any of the actors. However, in the end, I gained a lot of valuable insight. I got to see people's reactions in real-time, so I knew what worked and what didn't, and I got to see what characters needed more development by the way the actors portrayed them. Then once I cast my show, I made those adjustments, and continued this process, hearing lines performed, and getting feedback from my actors about what could be adjusted.
Q: You have also expressed an interest in Art. How do you see art and theater combining or working together?
A: I think theater and art are in many ways intertwined with one another. Every performance that we do at the high school involves lots of visual art as well as acting, which can be seen through the costume, set, and even lighting design. I have used my background in art to help out in many of these aspects, most recently designing the sets for our original show, Writings on the Wall, which we performed for the METG festival this weekend. This was a difficult task because the shows we perform at this festival are always originals, so there are no previous productions to look to for inspiration, but it also allowed me to really get creative. Additionally, because we write our own shows, we don't have logos to use to publicize them, so I have also been using art to design original logos for our shirts, programs, and posters for the past 2 years.
Q: What advice do you have for other students who have not yet found their interests or passions?
A: My biggest piece of advice would just be to try lots of things and have an open mind. With so many electives and activities at this school, there are lots of opportunities to try things you've never tried before, and learn things you know nothing about. I think theater is a great place to do that because it's not competitive, so you can go in with no experience, and there are lots of different ways to get involved, so you can find what's right for you. Through my experience, I can safely say that although trying something completely foreign to you won't be easy, it can also be incredibly beneficial in discovering what you like and dislike, and realizing your passions.