Students to the Stage

Students perform their plays at the City Opera House


Photo Courtesy: City Opera House

Junior Coby Sipple, sophomore Jada Stewart, and senior Xander Shumaker rehearse for Young Playwrights at the City Opera House.

Ella Rintala, Editor

  Senior Sara Bagley was in the middle of a rehearsal as a performer in the musical “Mamma Mia” when she was informed that the play she wrote would have the opportunity to be performed.

  The MSU-sponsored Young Playwrights Festival stages six student written plays a year. This year, as well as last, Bagley’s was one of them.

  Theater teacher Minda Nyquist, involved with the festival for a long time, broke the good news.

  “While moving me around onstage during a rehearsal, [Nyquist] let me know that I had been selected as a finalist,” Bagley said. “It was shocking, and extremely exciting.”

  The playwright wasn’t the only student who came to the performance by a pleasant, Nyquist-induced surprise.

  “Minda just asked [her class] theater three who wanted to be a part of Young Playwrights and then sent everyone who was interested a few scripts to look at,” sophomore Jada Stewart, one of several theater students who acted in the festival, said.

  Stewart appreciated performing in a play written by someone with a similar perspective as her.

  “I really liked doing a student-written play because it was written by someone who’s around the same age as me and it was really interesting to act in a play written by a peer.” 

I really liked doing a student-written play because it was written by someone who’s around the same age as me and it was really interesting to act in a play written by a peer”

— J. Stewart

  Although work written by students offers fresh perspectives, it doesn’t come without its difficulties.

  “I’ll say that at first, I struggled with writing it,” Bagley said, “but I found that the more I worked with the play and received feedback from my peers, it became much more developed with a clear focus.”

  One such resource that Bagley had the opportunity to tap into because of the festival was the mentorship of a professional in the theater world. She was assigned to be mentored by Seth Gordon, the director of the Helmerich School of Drama.

  “We discussed all the different elements of my play, from stage directions to character motivation, and I continually made new edits until it was finally time to submit the final draft,” Bagley said.

  Once submitted, Bagley’s play was sent off to be rehearsed and finally performed at the City Opera House, a thrill for Bagley even though this isn’t the first time her work has been featured.

  “While I had gotten the chance to be a part of this last year, COVID moved everything online and turned our performances into recorded staged readings,” Bagley said. “This year, to see everything live and performed full-out was amazing, and it was even more incredible watching my own work be brought to life.”

  This emotion came to a head as Bagley finally saw her work on the stage.

  “I cried a little,” Bagley said. “Not just because of my play being a bit sad, but also out of pure awe. It’s a sort of life-changing experience to have all of my hard work be performed and seen by an audience, and I feel so lucky to have been presented with such an amazing opportunity.”