Local playwright debuts short play in NYC

Local playwright debuts short play in NYC

Grace Schofield debuts short play in NYC

by Eric A Thomas

Summer for a college student can offer many opportunities. It can be a time to take a break from the world of academia or to look for opportunities to expand horizons in a field of choice. For Grace Schofield, the choice was easy.

The 2020 Jacksonville High School graduate and current sophomore at Southeast Missouri State University has been immersed in all aspects of theater most of her life.

Her mother, Shawn Smith, is the theater and speech teacher at Jacksonville Middle School. Also, as Schofield was growing up, her mom was active with the Jacksonville Theatre Guild and Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield.

As a student at SEMO (Southeast Missouri State University), Schofield is studying at the Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance. This June, Schofield will be in New York City, hoping to expand her love for anything theater to the Big Apple.

“I have been experimenting in writing short plays and I heard about a short play festival in NYC from someone at SEMO,” explained Schofield. “They were still accepting entries, so I got busy and put something together.” She was working on the backstage crew of a production, and during some downtime, put together the entry that got her into the competition — multitasking at its best. Schofield said an added plus is that a few SEMO alumni will be featured in this year’s festival.

The name of Schofield’s play is, “It’s for the Plot,” which might be foreshadowing her own feelings. The storyline is about a character by the name of Violet who is overwhelmed with fear and doubt about the decision to move to the Big Apple, as it involves leaving her best friend, River, behind. Violet spirals as River tries to help her make this life-changing decision. “After all, there is no place like New York, right?” added the playwright.

SEMO’s Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance has a wealth of talent upon which Schofield was able to draw when she put the cast together. “I have cast Cameron Hepp and Olivia Wheeler to portray the characters, and they have been great to work with,” commented Schofield.

She also enlisted her friend Isabel Kissel to be her assistant director. “I wanted another set of eyes on the piece, and she has been an incredible help.”

Before the students left for the summer, table reads and character exploration occurred. It was during this time that Schofield was able to rewrite or make some slight changes. They are meeting up early June for blocking and full rehearsals.

The play is due to run June 15-17 at 7 p.m. and June 19 at 3 p.m., each performance at The Players Theatre in New York.

While attending SEMO, Schofield has participated in several productions and in a variety of positions both on production staff and on stage.

She enjoys being a part of Alpha Psi Omega (National Theatre Honors Society) and was recently elected to the executive board. “I have participated in several all-student productions, and I absolutely love that,” Schofield concluded. “So far, I’ve been able to make my college career exactly what I want it to be, and I am very fortunate to have found a school that allows me to pursue my dreams.”

In addition to her studies and activities within her major, Schofield writes a blog for “Broadway World” — her writings there are available to read at broadwayworld.com. She has been writing for them since January 2023.

She continues to work on writing short plays and has compiled at least seven so far. She is looking forward to getting critique through a student organization called New Play, which provides feedback to new playwrights.

Upon receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a musical theater major and a minor in film and literature, Schofield plans to move to New York City and do anything and everything theater-related.

When not at SEMO or in NYC, Schofield enjoys serving as a counselor every summer for Christian Performing Arts Camp at Green Pastures Christian Retreat Center, and when she’s home on weekends, serving on the worship team at First Christian Church in Jacksonville. She also enjoys the time she gets to spend with her mom and her grandparents, Linda and Everett Schofield from Roodhouse.

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