Actors will showcase scandals and more


Abby Baum

Juniors Katherine Bald, Matthew Chappelle and senior Noah Eisfelder rehearse for the upcoming performance.

With pieces ranging from DBQs to scandalous poems about big booties, Writer’s Showcase 2014 is a play worth attending, but not for those with sensitive ears.
ETHS created Writer’s Showcase around 40 years ago, and the idea has stuck around ever since. Every year, students join forces to read through other students’ work and then turn their writing into short sketches.
The Showcase board aims to include a wide variety of writing in the show, from dramatic, to comedic, to heart wrenching.
IMG_9404“There really are no set criteria for Showcase,” says Josh Lustig, senior and executive board member. “That is the beauty about it. Every type of writing style is submitted and has a fair chance of being selected.”
A student board is formed in early September, guided by an executive board, and they start asking students for stories in early September. Then, beginning in early January, board members get together and start reading through the hundreds of writing submissions.
In early February, the board has a meeting at which they start eliminating pieces based on the majority vote. The board must cut some pieces because they are either too extensive or too hard to adapt.
The entire process is anonymous, so the board can’t be biased with their selections. They do try to find pieces that resonate with the audiences, like a story about a student writing his or her college essays under the guidance of Earnest Hemingway.
The directors of the play, juniors David Colton and Logan Sutherland, take the 20 selected written pieces and adapt them for the stage with the help of 14 actors.
“The really hard part, in my experience, is the adaptation,” says Logan, “Some of these stories are skits. You know, they have lines, stage directions, and stuff. But not most of them…”
These pieces require a lot of editing. In the past, directors have tried to stay away from rewriting the pieces, but they can’t keep the stories completely the same and have them translate effectively to the stage.
The directors also need to make the play as exciting as possible. The directors are often the ones making the play outlandish, diverging from the original stories.
Showcase has become such a big hit that other companies around the Chicago area have used and adapted the idea for their own shows.
Mudlark, an Evanston theater company, has created a showcase of its own and called it Mudpie. They ask elementary school kids from around the Evanston area to submit pieces, and then they turn these pieces into a play.
“I occasionally get emails from former students who have gone off to college and are interested in doing something similar on their college’s campus,” says Lisa Oberman, Showcase’s sponsor.