Berkeley High School’s (BHS) Advanced Theater Projects class is an honors Career Technical Education (CTE) course that follows other coursework in theater at BHS. This year, teacher Jordan Winer asked the students in the class to try writing their own plays. Four of these plays were selected to be performed in the Florence Schwimley Little Theater on December 4, 5, 6, and 7. They were The Boyz by Raquel Matthews, Gone by Morning by Emily Hornig, An Auditory Lesson by Caymus Smith-Pierce, and Pumpkin Love by Forest Sabath.
The Boyz revolves around a conversation between two boys concerning what they wish for in women. It also had some queer undertones in that, to an extent, the boys fit each others’ descriptions of their dream girls.
The following play, Gone by Morning, was about a British family’s struggle as World War II commenced. Emily Hornig, a junior in the Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS), said the topic of her play was inspired by her interest in World War II history. However, Hornig wanted her work to stand apart from other works about World War II. “It was difficult to not fall into the trap of telling the men’s stories of war, because those are the types of stories that I’d read and that I was influenced by,” said Hornig. She said that her first draft of the play didn’t portray any one character as being more central than the others, but she carefully revised it to shed light on emotional stress that Kit, the main character, bore rather than focusing on the hardships of the American soldier, Jack, or Kit’s husband John, who was to go to war soon. Kit must explain John’s departure to her daughter and decide what to do about her unborn child.
Caymus Smith-Pierce, a senior in Academic Choice (AC), played John in Hornig’s play and appreciated how the play shed light on the challenges Kit faced at home. Smith-Pierce also wrote the penultimate play, An Auditory Lesson, which told the story of a home assistance robot called Nadine that represented the transition from automation to artificial intelligence. Through the meditations of a stage manager, the play essentially suggested that artificial intelligence is and always will be artificial and nothing more.
The last play was Pumpkin Love. Forest Sabath, a sophomore in AC, initially wrote a short play that he later expanded upon. The play begins with a boy being sacrificed. The rest of the first act that was performed for the fall one-acts was essentially the origin story of the boy’s religion told by one of the gods to whom the boy was sacrificed.
Sabath acted in his own play as a pumpkin farmer, while Hornig played his wife, Martha. In the comic origin story of the boy’s religion, the pumpkin farmer has an intimate relationship with a pumpkin. The farmer ultimately impregnates the pumpkin. Together, they have a child. The play may be performed in full in the future.