Sam Burris was a student in YPT’s In School Playwriting Program at Swanson Middle School last semester. His play, The Stranger, deals with a young war veteran battling his demons after returning to the United States. Sam gives this tale a unique twist through his personification of Fear as the protagonist’s opponent. Below, Sam talks about his experience of conceiving and writing The Stranger, which will be produced in YPT’s New Play Festival on April 24.
Reflection on the New Play Festival Process
by Sam Burris
Like most of the kids in my all year drama class, I groaned when I heard that we were going to be writing a play every Wednesday for the next twelve weeks. But secretly, I was really looking forward to it. At first trying to write my play was really frustrating. I had a distinct idea in my head, and I just didn’t know how to put it into words. But once I got the words flowing, it was really easy and enjoyable to write this play. There were so many great plays in my class, so I was really surprised when I found out I had been selected to even be considered, let alone have my play produced.
After my play was selected, I was thrilled to learn that [YPT Program Associate] Laurie Ascoli would be my dramaturge, especially because she had been the teaching artist for my class. She was very helpful in the original process of writing my play, as well as when I had to make my final edits. Although we didn’t spend as much time together working on it, as I think some of the other playwrights may have, I never would’ve been able to write my play without her help. She guided me to make changes that helped me to better understand my own characters and find the words to describe the newfound aspects of the characters to the audience.
Throughout the whole process, I was afraid my play wasn’t “good enough”. Especially at the first read when I heard everyone elses’ plays. They were so spectacular, I was afraid to have mine read. But after I heard it read, I knew that it would do just fine. I loved hearing my words come to life through the actors. It was amazing.
I’m honored to be featured in the New Play Festival, and I’m astounded by the emotional capacity that the other playwrights express in their plays. I’m sure it’ll be great!
YPT Young Playwright