Youth Theatre head directs — and writes — new play

  • Pier One Youth Theatre actors Vianne Sarber, left, as Rosario, and Zane Wilkonson, right, as Lonzo, rehearse a secne from “Honor Among Thieves,” at Pier One Theatre, Homer, Alaska, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News)

Homer’s Pier One Theatre has always been a home-grown operation, with locals lending a hand for everything from directing to acting to tech to make-up and costumes. That’s especially so with Pier One Youth Theatre, the summer theater camp that challenges youth from elementary to high school to learn all aspects of theater.

This weekend, Pier One adds one more skill to its repertoire with the premiere of Youth Theatre Director Lindsay Schneider’s “Honor Among Thieves.” It opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday and continues 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17, 18 and 19.

Schneider wrote the play out of frustration with the limited number of good plays for young people. The idea came about last winter when she read a young adult novel that had a lot of witty dialogue.

“Why can’t a play be this juicy?” Schneider said. “Why can’t we have characters we’re really invested in and have those relationships play out on stage? We cheer for those people trying to solve their problems and fix their friendships.”

Heading into her second year at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Schneider started a draft in December and continued writing in through February. At first she said she didn’t know if she wanted to make it a show, Schneider said. In the writing community, you’re supposed to write things edgy and post-modern, and here she had a play whose originality was in how it rearranged familiar elements.

She’s still working on the play, and keeps writing notes in her script for a future revision, but is sticking to the current version except for minor corrections.

“I’ve been grateful to the kids who take my occasional typo in stride,” Schneider said.

“Honor Among Thieves” has magic, tough kids and political intrigue. It follows Rosario, played by Viane Sarber, the leader of a group of pickpockets who is a girl masquerading as a boy, Rosario negotiates a deal with the notorious Council of Convicts. If she and her gang can steal the Madonna from the government’s new chapel at the Queen’s World Fair, they’ll win fortune, fame and a seat on the council.

“But they aren’t the only ones vying for power, and as the heist nears, the gang must decide between loyalty and success, trust and power,” Schneider writes.

Schneider described “Honor Among Thieves” as play like “Downton Abbey,” the British television show written by Julian Fellowes that develops the story of maids and butlers as much as lords and ladies. One girl cast in a secondary role told Schneider she thought she had the best part.

“That was fun to hear,” she said. “Youth theater should never be ‘one kid is the star’ operation. I wanted something that is an ensemble cast.”

With a strong set of girls ages 10-12, all with similar acting experience and about the same size, Schneider and co-director Landon Bunting double cast the show. They have what Schneider calls the West End and Sunset Boulevard casts, each group performing on different nights. Daisy Walker and Eryn Field play Mary and Rebecca Trowbridge and Aria Hill play Katia.

Youth Theatre starts with a skills camp, where younger campers learn the craft of theater. Youth can also take the production camp and participate in a complete play. Schneider has worked previous summers as assistant director and moved up this summer — an example of the progression campers make over the years.

“It’s so fun seeing people gain confidence the longer they’re in the program,” she said.

Schneider said she’d like to keep working on “Honor Among Thieves” and perhaps submit it to a theater competition at the University of Victoria.

“My goal is I would like to get it published one day and then, I think it would be wonderful if it was a show that other youth theater organizations would choose to use,” she said. “If kids in Iowa and Florida and Washington did it, I would be as happy as a clam. … It’s the next stage. Right now I’m working on sewing on buttons.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

Honor Among Thieves

Pier One Theatre

7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday

3 p.m. Sunday

7:30 p.m. Aug. 17, 18 and 19

Written by Lindsey Schneider and directed by Lindsey Schneider and Landon Bunting

West End cast performing Aug. 11, 13, 18

Rosario: Vianne Sarber

Bastián: Jack Swanson

Lonzo: Zane Wilkinson

Slate, Customer: Emmet Wilkinson

Skeet: Poppy Smith

Katia: Aria Hill

Penelope, Isabella: Maya Kelly

Mary: Eryn Field

Midge: Dayus Geysbeek

Glitch: Indigo Sonneburn

DeVega, Helen: Julliet Matizwa

Ben, First Guard: Jackson Krohn

Tomas, Announcer, Third Guard: Rebecca Trowbridge

Daniel, Merchant, Second Guard: Daisy Walker

Sunset Boulevard Cast, performing Aug. 12, 17, 19

Rosario: Vianne Sarber

Bastián: Jack Swanson

Lonzo: Zane Wilkinson

Slate, Customer: Emmet Wilkinson

Skeet: Poppy Smith

Katia: Rebecca Trowbridge

Penelope, Isabella: Maya Kelly

Mary: Daisy Walker

Midge: Dayus Geysbeek

Glitch, Helen: Indigo Sonneburn

DeVega: Julliet Matizwa

Ben, First Guard: Jackson Krohn

Tomas, Announcer, Third Guard: Aria Hill

Daniel, Merchant, Second Guard: Eryn Field

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