A Lexington high school student is a big step closer to becoming a professional playwright: One of his plays was selected to be performed at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Lafayette High School senior Carson Hardee, 18, wrote one of seven plays chosen from 876 submissions to Actors Theatre’s New Young Voices Playwright Festival, a showcase of high school students’ 10minute plays. Hardee’s play, “(bar)ri(e)rs,” is about challenges in relationships.
Hardee, a student in the School for Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette, has been a playwright since he was 10 or 11. Another of his plays, “Potter-tition,” premiered this week at Transylvania University. He entered the Young Playwrights Festival last year and received was an honorable mention, he said.
One of his mentors for the past six years has been Blackbird Dance Theatre owner and artistic director Jenny Fitzpatrick. In the past few years, Hardee’s writing has become more mature and relatable, she said. He has a career ahead of him as a playwright, she said.
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“Carson is really hyper-intelligent, but he is also really charismatic, and people like being around him,” Fitzpatrick said.
Hardee began writing “(bar)ri(e)rs” last January. He said he was inspired to write the play about a crush he had on someone and the problems that prevented the relationship from happening. “(bar)ri(e)rs” is about the actual barriers that prevent all kinds of relationships from happening. In the play, those barriers are hearing problems, and attempts to be honest with someone else, he said.
“Fear is a big barrier that we put on ourselves, and that is discussed a lot in the play,” he said.
American Sign Language plays a huge part in “(bar)ri(e)rs,” Hardee said. The parentheses in the title represent barriers and lip reading, because deaf people often rely on it to converse.
Before writing the play, Hardee knew only limited ASL. He did a lot of research to make the play as realistic as possible, he said.
Part of his preparation for the festival was to have a person who is deaf, and interpreters and cultural consultants, review the play and provide insight on how to make the play as authentic as possible.
“Getting insight from an actual member of the deaf community was really illuminating and inspirational, as well to see the play performed for people who are actually in the deaf community,” Hardee said.
The characters in “(bar)ri(e)rs” are all high school-age students, but the actors are mostly college graduates, Hardee said. ATL provides actors, directors and other professionals to produce the play. He said he wrote the play while keeping the Young Playwrights Festival in mind, so he knew that an age difference would be a possibility.
“It’s such an amazing place and I feel so honored that I am selected for this opportunity. It’s so many amazing minds coming together to collaborate on my piece which is a very exciting opportunity,” Hardee said. “People bring in such different experiences and backgrounds and knowledge to make this piece the best that it can be.”
If you go
New Voices Young Playwrights Festival
What: A showcase of seven Kentucky and Southern Indiana high school students’ ten-minute plays
When: 7 p.m. April 24-26.
Where: Actors Theatre of Louisville, 316 W. Main St., Louisville