Courtesy of Henry Fowler

Courtesy of Henry Fowler

By Layout-Editor Ricardo Montero-Hernandez

Giving young writers the chance to exploit their creativity and see their writing come to life does not happen very often. For this to be offered 22 times, makes the Bergen County Young Playwrights Festival a special event for BCC.

High school students and Bergen students under the age of 21 submit their screenplays, and Bergen Stages produces them for one day in the Ciccone Theater; open to the public, the fun is for everyone. Out of the plays submitted, five winners are chosen and their plays are performed by Bergen students.

This year’s winners:

“Mechanical Advancement” by Emily Donegan from Bergen County Academies: Starring Julio Sabagan, Zach McDevitt and Adriana Shaw. The play revolves around two brothers: One develops a chip to control the other’s mind. Although, the idea of the play was interesting and original, it misses it’s mark due to the forced comedy. McDevitt, however, was born for the nerdy role, with a shrill voice similar to the ”Knights” Who Say “Ni” from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Julio Sabagan is also worthy of note, given that he severely injured his ankle in the middle of the play and ignored it throughout. He even stars in another play. The Torch gives “Mechanical Advancement” a C-.

“Sweet Nothings” by Yana Abad of BCC: Starring Veronica Vitale, Kristine Gaal, Chadwyck Linwood and Jesu Mills. It explores different versions of one couple in the same park at the same time. On the right, is the present day couple with their grown up issues and pessimistic attitude. On the left, is the couple around 20 years earlier with dreams of being old, and growing older together. They were both simultaneously on stage and one would stop to develop the other, making it an intriguing and deep concept, with touching drama and believable script. A commendable performance by Kristine Gaal was one of the highlights, and made the play very believable. The Torch gives “Sweet Nothings” an A-.

“Shmutz” by Shira Kindler from Bergen County Academies: Starring Veronica Vitale, Maritza Garcia and Dakota Lebrescu. This one revolves around a Jewish family who brings a Christian boy over for dinner; however, the daughter likes the boy and has lied to him about being Jewish.

Although the play is extremely stereotypical towards Jews, the writing is hilarious. It blends smart, modern writing with classic comedic timing and an overall looming cloud of religious tension. It exploits on religious and social differences to create an honest and funny play. Standout actress was Maritza Garcia, who played an adorable stereotypical Jewish mother, from the mannerisms all the way down to the accent. The Torch gives “Shmutz” an A.

“Asleep” by Maritza Garcia of BCC: Starring Sophia Lee and Amanda Zaccone. This play is about connections of the living and the dead. After her mother passes away, Emily (Zaccone) is torn between moving on with her future or staying in her hometown, where her mother is buried. With more than one plotline in the story, it is an interesting idea and engaging story.

Very emotionally diverse, my lacrimal glands were confused between laughter and despair. It was sentimental and honest, and truly developed a connection between the audience and the characters, while withholding a complicated and abstract concept. The singing was unnecessary, but remarkable nevertheless, and it ended too abruptly, leaving major plot holes. Amanda Zaccone and Sophia Lee connected excellently and their singing voices were sweet and soft. The Torch gives “Asleep” a B-.

“The Good Counselor” by Zack Eydenberg of Northern Highlands: Starring Kevin Bayon, Brittany Chiacchiaro and Gabe Wanissian. This play revolves around a lawyer, trying to find good people after a Godly voice offers him the chance to save humanity, under limited time. The play was genuinely funny with an engaging plot, there were plenty of things going on and it included enough randomness to entertain even the most severe ADD patient.

The quality of the writing was excellent, quite advanced for a young playwright, and immersive. Although some parts seemed redundant and forced, the actors brought out the strengths in the script. Kevin Bayon was very good, taking the role with courage and confidence. The Torch gives “The Good Counselor” an A.