Jaimie Gaskell isn’t convinced just yet that she’s going to spend her life as a playwright.
However, when someone like Capital Repertory Theatre’s Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill insists that you know how to write, and to write very well, you might want to listen to her.
“I plan to go into communications in college, and while I don’t know if I’ll be a playwright per se, I think I want to do something in the theater,” said Gaskell, a senior at Greenwich High School in the fall. “I’m just not sure yet, but a playwright would be exciting.”
‘Capital Rep’s Young Playwright Contest’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl, Albany
WHEN: 4 p.m. today, 5 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 445-7469, www.capitalrep.org
Gaskell was selected, for the second consecutive year, as one of the winners of Capital Repertory Theatre’s Young Playwright Contest. The six plays chosen as winners out of the 45 submitted will be performed today through Sunday at Capital Rep. Each play is between 10 to 15 minutes long, and will be performed by Capital Rep’s Summer Stage Acting Company, directed by Margaret E. Hall.
In last year’s contest, Gaskell’s play, “YAP’s Homeless Youth Hostel,” was one of six winners. That story centered on a group of homeless children, and her work this year, “Ten Ways to Save a Support Group,” focuses on a support group made up of teenagers with annoying curses.
“I was very excited about winning last year, and I had this fantastic idea,” said Gaskell. “It was a process of creating these characters and sticking them in a setting, and finding a plot that worked for it and allowed me to exercise my imagination.
“This year I was reading a book and this new idea just came to me,” Gaskell continued. “I had been frustrated with an idea to rival last year’s, but when I was reading it just came to me. It takes place in one scene in real time, and it’s basically the trials and tribulations of this support group which is real close to getting the axe. They’re trying to find a way to keep the group going while also helping a new member.”
All submissions were judged on creativity, dialogue, character development and plot structure.
“Last year we had 25 submissions, so we’re very excited about the growth of our program,” said Mancinelli-Cahill. “To get 45 in just the second year is pretty awesome.”
Also rather impressive, she said, was Gaskell’s second piece of work.
“It’s very rare to meet a young voice with a sense of humor and a sense of human nature,” said Mancinelli-Cahill. “Jaimie has a real knack for storytelling, and she’s a little offbeat and a little quirky. But she’s a very smart young woman who reads a lot, and she has this ability to condense her own experience into a short story that’s dramatic and works very well.”
Gaskell said she produced her first play when she was either 11 or 12. She kept it to herself.
“Obviously, it was not published, but I enjoyed doing it, and I’ve really enjoyed working with the Capital Rep people,” she said.
“They allowed us to be a part of the process in rehearsal, they offer a few workshops which certainly helped us along, and it’s been a fun experience.”
The other winners were “The Hottest Rain,” by Alexavier Kelley, a senior at Rensselaer High School; “Zugzwang,” by Bethlehem High senior Brendan Kane; “The Pen and the Sword,” by Albany High sophomore Cynthia Fowler; “Flawed Perfection,” by Shaker eighth-grader Sabrina Salam; and “Kubler-Ross, “ by Shenendehowa senior Savannah McClendon.
In addition to having their works produced, the six young playwrights receive an exclusive mentorship with professional playwright Christina Gorman, winner of the Samuel French Short Play Festival Award and New York International Fringe Festival Award for Overall Excellence in Playwriting.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]