Sophie’s Play (The 12:30 Train)

Sophie Greenway, senior at Estes Park High School, recently brought an incredible honor to our tiny mountain town. After submitting an original one-act play to the Denver Center For Performing Arts (DCPA) for the annual Student Playwriting Competition, Greenway’s play was selected as a finalist, becoming 1 of 3 winners narrowed down from 181 different plays. Her play, “The 12:30 Train”, follows the story of 45 year old Henry (played by Justin Walvoord) and his accomplice Esme (played by ) who came from twenty years in the future to stop Henry’s past self from committing the murder of an innocent high school boy named Oliver (played by Patrick Williams). The story is full of unexpected twists and heartfelt interactions that beautifully capture the delicate relationships between brother and sister, as well as time and space.

         Greenway’s prize for winning such a prestigious award consisted of a week’s worth of workshops down in Denver where she and other professional writers, actors, and directors perfected her script and readied it for the stage. In an interview after the performance, Sophie elaborated on her experience. “When we got there (Denver) on Monday, we all sat down and introduced themselves. There was about 40 people in the circle,” she said. After that, they broke off into groups and began to work on their individual scripts. “We worked with our director on it for pretty much the whole week.”

          On Friday, she met with the two other girls whose plays had been chosen. They walked around together, watched shows, and ate food. On Saturday, they watched more plays and then got to watch each other’s final product. Afterwards, each met with a professional script writer for around an hour to discuss and improve. This mini workshop had one of the biggest impacts on our young writer and truly bolstered her confidence. “I’m capable of more than I thought,” she beamed. Even so, Greenway still found it hard to watch her creation displayed to the public for the first time. “It was intimidating watching my dumb play performed by professionals. I felt a bit like a fraud, at least at first. But by the time we were halfway through, I knew it would go well.” Greenway’s favorite part of the entire experience was meeting new people and connecting to everyone on something so personal.

         Sophie definitely had to work hard to perfect her script while at her Denver workshops. When asked how long the initial writing process had taken her, she stated, “The first draft was about 4 hours and then between rewrites and changes probably about 10 hours.” She said that she did not expect to win the contest and only submitted it as a requirement for a class she had taken. Greenway never thought she would have to think about “The 12:30 Train” after submitting it to the DCPA. Obviously, she’d thought wrong.

         Actor David Sapphire read the stage directions, Justin Walvoord played Henry, Patrick Williams played Oliver, and WHOMST played Esme. In a interview with Justin Walvoord, he said that the best part of putting on student’s plays is “to see the reaction of the playwright.” When David Sapphire was asked the same question he responded with, “Oh it’s fantastic. Sometimes it’s the first time they have ever seen what’s in their head out on the stage.” Actors only had one week to practice the play and work on minimal stage directions/cues. David told us, “We had 4 rehearsals and 2 performances on Saturday at The Denver Play Summit.” Both Justin and David recommend submitting your work because you never know, you could win something as unexpectedly as Sophie did.

         On the 25th of February, Sophie Greenway’s production came to EPHS and was performed in front of the entire school. The actors were met with a tentative crowd full of anticipation, but bowed to a standing ovation. As the performance was a dramatic reading, the actors only read stage direction aloud rather than acting it out. Even so, the play was incredibly moving and beautifully communicated its main themes of loss and regret though the writing. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, added that they enjoyed the play even more because it was performed as a read through because it accentuated Greenway’s writing and vision without muddling it with special effects. “By having an additional character read out the stage directions, the audience got to envision the play exactly as Sophie did. A narrator made the play a much more personal experience for me.”

        Overall, students at EPHS enjoyed the play that Sophie Greenway wrote. Many students talk about and recognize Sophie for her work now. It’s not often that students at EPHS are recognized for such big awards so the whole school is extremely proud of Sophie. We hope that she will continue with writing as she is most certainly talented.

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