North Thurston High School senior Charlotte Perez received national recognition for her play “The Place Where I Go,” which opens Wednesday at the school.
The play was a semifinalist in the Educational Theatre Association’s Thespian Playworks competition. Although it wasn’t chosen as a finalist, the honor places it among the top dozen in the national competition.
The one-act play is part of the school’s fifth annual Arts Showcase, which also includes another one-act — “Forever,” by Elizabeth Stoker, a junior — along with student poetry, music, dance and visual art.
“The Place Where I Go” is about a girl whose brother has died. “She continues to see her brother even after his death in this sort of imaginary headspace,” Perez, 17, told The Olympian.
“That’s where the title comes in.”
Perez said she hasn’t experienced the death of someone close to her.
“I write for fun quite often, and I like to challenge myself,” she said. “I like to go for things that I don’t have much experience with and see if I can write fully formed characters based on that.”
Perez, who has stage managed many plays at North Thurston High, took the initiative to enter the competition, said Kathrine Deneen, who teaches drama at North Thurston and will direct “The Place Where I Go.”
“She wrote this play over her winter vacation and submitted it without sharing it with me initially,” Deneen told The Olympian. “When I received the email from the Educational Theatre Association, I was surprised.”
Deneen directed one of Perez’s plays in last year’s showcase, too, and said she was impressed by her student’s growth as a writer.
“She really worked to create a through line for the actors and create a story that would resonate with the audience,” Deneen said.
Perez also is directing “Forever,” with the teacher’s guidance.
Perez said she was inspired to enter the competition after attending the International Thespian Festival in June. The four Playworks finalists are produced at the annual festival.
“I got to stage manage a play that another student had written,” Perez said. “I told myself that the next year I would submit a play of my own.”
She aspires to write for television and will begin studying screenwriting at DePaul University in Chicago the fall.
“I’ve always been a writer,” she said. “When I was a kid I used to make up stories and all that. When I was about 13, I started to realize that making up stories and watching TV were two connected hobbies and that there was a way you could write for TV, which I hadn’t realized before.
"After that, I started to write scripts for fake TV shows that I would make up, and fake movies.”
North Thurston High School’s fifth annual showcase features student-written plays — including one that received national recognition — plus music, dance, poetry and a gallery show.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
Where: North Thurston High School, 600 Sleater Kinney Road NE, Olympia
Tickets: $7 general admission; $5 for students, seniors and military
More information: 360-412- 4800, nthurston.k12.wa.us/norththurston