On Saturday, Playwright’s Workshop at Kenyon (PWAK) premiered As You Are, a one-act play written by Andrea Yagher ’24. The prerecorded Zoom performance debuted on YouTube, and starred Jack Teitelbaum ’24 and Walker Borba ’23 with Allegra Fass ’21 as stage production manager and Eleanor Evans-Wickberg ’21 as director.
Evans-Wickberg, who also serves on the board of PWAK, explained that the organization opened submissions for student-written, one-act plays last fall. Yagher’s piece was selected as the group’s first and only production this semester. “[As You Are] was really polished and Andrea was willing to take the initiative,” said Evans-Wickberg.
As You Are is set in 1941 at the fictional Hofstadter School for Boys in Barnstable County, Mass. Yagher wrote the first draft of her play in 11th grade while taking AP U.S. History. “I was inspired by what I was reading in my textbook about social changes and the mental state of both men and boys in World War I and World War II,” Yagher explained. “The concept of manhood was very interesting to me.”
The play begins as Moony Carlisle (Teitelbaum) winds up in detention, proctored by philosophy professor Dr. Quinton (Borba). Moony, who lives with Asperger’s syndrome, has just gotten in a fight with another student over the World War II draft. “All Moony wants to do is to serve but because of his … physical impediments he wasn’t drafted,” she said.
While initially inspired by her interest in history, the play explores themes surrounding disability that are very personal to Yagher, who has a twin brother with special needs. She described drawing from her own life, infusing the play with “someone who’s exceptional in a certain way.”
“I love reading plays where the characters are at the height of their intelligence and when they’re difficult to figure out for the audience,” she said. “I wanted to write about someone [Moony] who had a brilliant mind, but had a really difficult time communicating to other people in general.”
Over the course of 16 minutes, the play explores the theme of the “grand equivalency of human nature” as both characters reveal their personal backgrounds to each other. Despite their differences in age and contrast between their disabled and abled bodies, they manage to find similarities in their experiences as men. “The kinship that these two men forge can mean something for all people,” Yagher stated.
According to Evans-Wickberg, PWAK plans to take submissions for more short pieces at the end of the semester, which will be performed in a festival next year. The solely student-run group focuses on writing scripts, but is also open to students interested in reading and performing plays.
As You Are is available on the PWAK YouTube channel.