Goodbye Shakespeare, Hello Conrad
East’s Theater Department has consisted of Shakespeare and other notable writers for as long as most remember. For theater enthusiasts, the classics are a necessity for developing their skills and resume, however, for inexperienced theater viewers, they can get quite boring. Reading the classics in English class is enough, no need to put on a two-hour production as well. For the first time in East’s recent history, there will be a student-written and directed (with assistance from Deborah Voss) play: senior Conrad Branch is the culprit who broke the trend. His self-written play titled Red Ink is already making history and making some students do a double-take.
Murder mysteries, “friendly” competition, and the classic whodunnit trope are just the starting points for Conrad. The play follows a narrative of the infamous Clue characters and other renowned fictional detectives like Nancy Drew and Nate the Great, who work together to solve a murder. The odd mix of characters and seven (that’s right – seven) murder mystery narratives make Conrad’s play a must-see for all East students: snoozing won’t be an option with all this anticipation.
Conrad sat down for an interview with the East Spotlight and offered insight into the creative process and struggles of creating a play:
When producing a piece of work for thousands of teenagers to critique, there are bound to be many complaints. Do you feel pressure from your peers in terms of the success of your play?
“I was most nervous for the actors to see it. Although now it’s odd because it’s a little less of mine and a little more of the whole cast. I guess the feedback will go to us as a whole now.”
Who helped you along the way? Was this purely a student-driven passion project or did someone in your life encourage you to write a play?
“Ms. Voss and I have been meeting frequently ever since the beginning, although she has given me a lot of liberty to do whatever I want, which feels nice. Noah Kaplan, the former speech teacher at East, also helped me tremendously in making my play a more fluid narrative and narrowing down my ideas.”
What is one tip you have for students who want to see their scripts and ideas come to life?
“Believe in yourself. Just because you don’t have the world's greatest script right now, doesn’t mean you're not the world's greatest writer. Writers tell many stories, the first one doesn’t have to be perfect — there will always be future chances.”
Come out and support East’s Theater Department by purchasing tickets. Opening night of Red Ink is on the 25th of October and everyone involved is absolutely buzzing. From Nancy Drew to Jack the Ripper, this play and its characters will have everyone gripping the edge of their seats until the final curtain closes.