I wrote my first play when I was fourteen. As you might imagine, it was rough. Quite rough. Some parts were implausible, others stilted, and others just ridiculous.
The story was called The Weston Family Christmas. It involved a father whose daughters couldn’t recognize him when he wore glasses and a fake mustache (I mean, come on) and a Mr. Stutt of the law firm Stutt, Stutt, and Stutters (I thought that was funny). (Okay, maybe I still think that’s a little funny.) Not to mention a nosy reporter named Ralph (pictured above in the Hawaiian shirt) who was always reminded by anything anyone said of some article or other he had once written. “Oh, speaking of food, I once did a column on the obesity of American children….”
Also a Christmas dinner somehow involving both spaghetti and gravy. (?)
The farther away I get from being fourteen, the more amazed I am that the play was actually performed that year. At the time, the drama directors at my church were having a hard time finding new scripts that were clean, fun, and meaningful for our yearly Christmas productions, and they (bravely!) invited us young people to try playwriting if we were interested. A couple of us gave it a shot, submitted scripts, and—lo and behold—two original plays were presented at our church that Christmas, one by the children’s theater group, one by the teens’.
What an awesome opportunity to have my first, raw script used and turned into a thing some people could enjoy. I even got to play a character in the drama: Megan, a spoiled teenager whose every other word was “like.” (That’s me in the photo, on the left, looking like I’m being tortured. I think I was actually in the middle of miming a cymbal crash?)
Now that I’m slightly older I begin to realize how much work our two play directors had to put into those first performances to pull everything together. But their generosity and commitment opened up a whole new realm of writing for me that has become a huge part of my life. In the seven years since that first play, I’ve had the incredible privilege to write eight dramas and cowrite five others, all of which have been performed! And yet I might never have tried writing a script if it hadn’t been for that first opportunity two drama directors offered to some young teenagers who liked to write.
All that to say, Thank you. Thanks for starting me on this journey, and supporting me on the way.
Despite its absurdities, I have to admit that I think of The Weston Family Christmas once in a while and wonder if I could salvage it, maybe even share it someday. Scrap the unbelievable bits, redesign some plot points, and dust off a few characters who would be worth keeping.
What do you all think? Anyone vote that I pull out the old document and give it a second try?