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A Play on Roles by Charis Royal

Written By: Kenny Schreiber July 23, 2010 No Comment

What light...?

I have always been in theatre. I have been an actress and a director. I have done anything and everything on the technical side, but one side I had never conquered was playwriting. I was perfectly happy being a minor actress and a lead technician. Two years ago, I acted in a program called P.U.P Fest, a.k.a Playwrights Under Progress Fest. Five plays are handpicked, cast, rehearsed, and performed by teenagers in grades 9-12. After that experience, I fell in love with P.U.P Fest and swore I would write a show and be picked to participate again—as a playwright.

Last year, I was too busy. This year, I felt like I needed to expand my horizons. The school year started, but my life was still a whirlpool with hardly a second to write anything, let alone a play. Months went by, and then it was April: the deadline was Thursday, and it was Monday. What the heck? I sat down, and in a matter of hours, I had a play. I zoomed it through a quick edit and sent it on its way to the theatre company. A few weeks went by, and I received a call. I had made it! Wow, best feeling in the world. Talk about cloud nine—more like cloud 39!

Playwright Charis Royal

My play, “There’s Something Wrong in Wonderland: A Romiet and Julio Story,” was a comedy-spoof wrapped up in a tragedy. Based on a twisted version of “Romeo and Juliet,” a high school boy named Jule falls asleep right before a Shakespeare test. The next thing he knows, he wakes up in the middle of “Romeo and Juliet,” as Juliet. The characters in Shakespeare’s original “Romeo and Juliet” land in some strange world: all the women think they are men, and vice-versa. There’s an obsessive “boy”-friend, an over possessive “brother,” a horribly biased cat, and a slightly insane nurse. The combination leads to a disastrous version of “Romeo and Juliet” that Jule with never forget!

The whole gender swap in my show and the confusion of whom, or rather, what gender the characters are, can be connected to how many LGBTQ youth don’t know how they identify. Many of my fellow youth at Youth First Texas are transgender or gender-queer. Many took years to realize who and what they are. Seeing actors who are not LGBTQ try to fit in these roles was eye opening, and I hope that when my play is performed again the director will play up the gender confusion, and the fact the “girls” in the show are “butch” and the Friar is feminine.

During the week of rehearsal, I met a group of people I will never forget. They brought my story to life, and I am so thankful to them for giving me a chance of a lifetime!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier this summer, a group from YFT turned a regularly scheduled Open Mic night into a field trip to the McKinney Avenue Contemporary to show support for Charis and to see her play.

The cast stops for a group photo

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