New student-written play hits the stage


Melissa Irish

Maria (senior Sierra Silva) and Sir Tobey Belch (junior Jaeden Starling) await Sir Andrew Auguecheek (senior Autumn Kaspar)’s reaction to their advice.

Melissa Irish, Features Editor

Cascades of smoke billowed onto the stage as people in vivid Elizabethan costumes strode amongst the coffeeshop scenery.  Laughter filled the aisles as magenta-clad “Sir Tobey Belch” sang about macaroni and cheese and then again minutes later when two characters fought using baguettes.  This was “Shakespeare for Lunch or What You Will.”

Of all of the performances for the Fall One-Act Play Festival, this one stands out from the others in one important aspect.  This play was written by a Bellevue West student, senior Eleanor Carle.

“I think I started writing it at the beginning of October or the end of September,” Carle said.  “I basically got the majority of it done in a week and then I kept on changing the ending.”

Writing her own plays isn’t new to Carle; she’s been doing it since her sophomore year.  The line-up of her creations includes “The Puppet,” “Space,” “A Pointless Adventure to Save the World,” and now, “Shakespeare for Lunch.”  She has directed plays as well.

“When you’re directing, you find a piece that you like and you take the blocking and you put it onstage,” Carle said.  “You get to find all the cool pieces in it.  When you’re writing a piece, you sort of have to find those cool things for yourself and you have to make all of the connections.”

Comparing the two, Carle found writing to be more difficult than directing.

“I think writing is a bit harder because you have to some up with your own idea and expand from that, but directing has its own challenges,” Carle said.

Despite only having experience directing and acting and not with writing, a fellow Performance Studies student agreed with Carle.

“I’m a perfectionist type of person, and if you give me something to write, I’m never going to stop writing because I’m always going to want to perfect it,” senior Jimmy Nguyen said.  “If the writing is already given to me, then I can’t change it.”

For Carle, writing “Shakespeare for Lunch” not only got her more playwriting experience, but also contributed as a project for her theatre class.

“For Performance Studies, which is the class after Advanced [Theatre], we have to do a project each semester and one of them is a design project and one of them is a leadership project,” Carle said.  “I knew that this year that we were going to do a Shakespearean piece because we didn’t get to the Shakespeare curriculum last year and we had liked the story “Twelfth Night.”

Carle and her friend, senior Sierra Silva, then discussed with theatre instructor Marya Lucca-Thyberg about possibly doing a more simplified version of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” They were concerned about the multitude of subplots being too confusing for the audience to enjoy thoroughly, and so Carle volunteered to write that new script.

“Basically, the play ‘Shakespeare for Lunch’ is Matthew Howard seeking out tutor Phoebe for help on his AP English assignment on ‘Twelfth Night,’” junior Lauren Walther said.  “He wants her to tell him how it basically goes down in the play, and so we go through the play and act out some Elizabethan, and when Matt doesn’t understand, we act it out modernized.”

Carle wasn’t alone in figuring out her new play though.  She had help from the Advanced Theatre and Performance Studies classes.  

“We group brainstormed, and she took the idea and then took it her direction,” Lucca-Thyberg said.  “Then, I’d read it and give her feedback.  I think the fun thing was that we did it together as a team.  They’ve been together for four years.  They know each other very well, they’ve studied the same things.”

From the building blocks of inspiration from her classmates and “Twelfth Night” itself, Carle then was able to form her own play.

“Basically I took everyone’s ideas and figured out the ones that I liked that would form the most cohesive plot,” Carle said.  “When I was writing it, and I don’t know why, but I was picturing it like a sitcom in a coffee shop with multiple plots going on at the same time.”

Although Carle had some nervousness about her play, Nguyen assured that with fortitude

“The magical part of theatre is that it’s really up to an artist interpretation,” Nguyen said.  “Confidence is key.  As long as you display it how you want it to be, there’s no reason to be nervous.”

Nguyen portrays as Matthew Howard, with costar junior Camille Hickey as Phoebe.  Carle herself is the actress for Viola/Cesaro, the crossdressing protagonist of “Twelfth Night.”

“‘Shakespeare For Lunch’ is just a really goofy piece, and I really like it because of that,” Nguyen said.  “It has the right amount of light-heartedness  and it also tells a story.  It doesn’t get lost with all the props we’re throwing around, the food we’re spilling, and everything.”

Nguyen’s words seemed to strike true, as the vibrant atmosphere seemed to draw the audience in and capture their attention.

“I think it’s a really good story,” Walther said.  “We had trouble at first with Matt’s character arc, but after we acted it a few times, we finally found a new arc of him starting off hating Shakespeare and slowly learning to appreciate it.”

Although one performance has already passed, there will be two more on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 at 7:00 PM in the Bellevue West auditorium.  Admission is $3 for students, $5 for adults, or free for those with an activity card.  Lucca-Thyberg, Carle, Nguyen, and Walther all recommend their show, which is easy to comprehend despite over the top theatrics as the modern world and Elizabethan times are meshed together.

“I think our playwright, Eleanor Carle, did a really really good job binding those two world together and creating a cohesive piece,” Nguyen said.