Schenectady senior among playwright contest winners

Capital Rep will stage winning works
Morgan Hughes is among six winners in the Young Playwright Contest.
Morgan Hughes is among six winners in the Young Playwright Contest.

Categories: Entertainment

SCHENECTADY — Schenectady High School senior and playwright Morgan Hughes likes ambiguity, at least on stage.

“I feel like a lot of questions are raised rather than answered,” Hughes said of her play, “Curiosity Killed the Cat.”

It’s one of six selected to premiere this week at Capital Repertory Theatre as part of the Young Playwright Contest. 

According to Margaret Hall, the director of the plays and the Summer Stage Young Acting Company, the number of submissions has grown each year, topping over 40 submissions this year. 

After winning one of the six spots, students had the chance to workshop their plays with Suzanne Bradbeer, who wrote “The God Game.” Their plays — which can be no more than 10 minutes long — will be performed by the Summer Stage Young Acting Company this week. 

“We do the same thing that we’d do with a professional playwright,” Hall said. The directors and the actors work with the young playwrights to make edits and clarifications to their scripts. 

“There’s a lot of editing involved,” Hughes said.  

Although it’s not the first play Hughes has written, it’s the first of hers to be performed on stage.

“Curiosity Killed the Cat” takes on the concept of time travel, which can be a difficult concept to write confidently and tightly about. The year is 2082 and college student Leon Lewis has to go back in time for a history class. Instead, he goes back to the year 2038 to save his favorite actress, Grace Johnson, who had died that year in a fire. 

While workshopping her play with Bradbeer, Hughes said it was difficult to go back through some of the questions Bradbeer posed to her about the play, particularly about the time traveling aspects of the storyline. 

“Some of it was tough, but all the feedback definitely helped,” Hughes said. 

After polishing the play, Hughes worked with some of the actors and actresses from the Summer Stage Young Acting Company to read through the play.

“It was awesome to see people taking on these characters,” Hughes said. She deliberately left out specific stage directions, leaving the Summer Stage Young Acting Company free to take on the characters and the storyline as they saw fit. 

“She gives us a fun world to deal with,” Hall said of Hughes’ play. 

For most students, it’s the first time they’ll be able to see their productions come to life on stage.

For the actors, it might be the first time they’ll get to work directly with the playwright to pull a production together. 

“It’s such a blank canvas, obviously within the confines of the script,” Hall said. 

Other plays premiering include: “The Sidekick,” by Jaimie Gaskell (third time winner) of Greenwich High School, “Inside My Head,”  by Joshua Kenna of Rensselaer High School, “The Convoluted Life of Jazmine Blossom,” by Andrew Sabo of Hudson Falls High School, “Though I Walk Through the Valley,” by S.E. Vatalaro of Shaker High School and “Familiar Faces,” by Eden Weinstein of Bethlehem Central High School.  

Capital Rep’s Young Playwright Contest

WHEN: 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl Street, Albany 
COST: Free
MORE INFO: or 445-7469

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