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Saranac Lake's Witter Swanson (center) and the cast from his winning play, "Elmer", at Pendragon Theatre.  Photo:  Karen Lordi-Kirkham
Saranac Lake's Witter Swanson (center) and the cast from his winning play, "Elmer", at Pendragon Theatre. Photo: Karen Lordi-Kirkham

In Saranac Lake, young playwrights take a bow

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Two North Country teens got the chance to see their plays performed on stage at Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake last weekend. Witter Swanson, a student at Saranac Lake High School, received a full production of his one-act play "Elmer." The runner-up, Amber Baker, a student at Beekmantown, received a reading of her play "The Esteemed Institute." The two playwrights were the winners of this year's Young Playwrights contest at Pendragon.

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Reported by

Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

Executive Artistic Director Karen Lordi-Kirkham says most schools don't teach playwriting and Pendragon's contest was a great way for the students to learn more about theatre arts.

"Then, when they come to the theater, they're already trained on how to view a play. They understand the mechanics and see it at a different level. And hopefully they become patrons, and get excited about a play and playwriting, and get a better idea of how it all goes together — what happens to a play, what a director does, what actors do a to words on a page."

Peggy Orman as Darla, Steve DeHond as Police Chief and Jason Amrhein as Elmer.  Photo:  Karen Lordi-Kirkham
Peggy Orman as Darla, Steve DeHond as Police Chief and Jason Amrhein as Elmer. Photo: Karen Lordi-Kirkham
Witter Swanson's play centers on Elmer, who is tasked to write an adventure book by his publisher.  Swanson, a freshman at Saranac Lake High School, describes his main character as a "nerdy and geeky" man who goes on an adventure before writing about it.  He was impressed to watch his play produced on a professional stage.  "I was really happy with it. It was great to see all the actors portraying the characters I had put down on paper, and bringing them to life. I wasn't here for every rehearsal, but the joy was seeing how they had progressed between rehearsals and what the final product was like in their final dress rehearsal."

Swanson's winning one-act play was directed and performed by a team of professional actors, directors and tech experts at Pendragon. A group of actors gave a stage reading of Amber Baker's play "The Esteemed Institute."

Executive Artistic Director Karen Lordi-Kirkham says Pendragon hopes to kick off next year's Young Playwrights Contest with a workshop in the fall or winter.

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