(Rubble-strewn streets. Six soldiers are cautiously moving through the debris, guns raised. Explosions can be heard in the background. A block of cinder falls off a building and slams into the ground next to one of the soldiers.)
This is how Kyle Sumner’s play Impasse begins. A tale of friendship and war in Iraq, it is exceptional not only for its emotional candor and depth but also for the specific detail with which Kyle vividly renders the world of his play.
When he received the assignment to write a play on a social justice issue Kyle’s choice was unique. “The other students were picking things like drugs and teen pregnancy. Those things don’t affect my life. I decided to choose war,” he said. “Then I based the characters on my friends. After I had the characters it all just kind of flowed out.”
Friendship is important to Kyle. Having moved to Washington, DC from Yorktown, VA – he knows all too well what a precious commodity friendship can be in a new setting. Kyle misses the days he would spend with friends, playing video games late into the night. “Not just shallow and violent games. Games with a story line that’s good, detailed – emotional.” He asserts that it was this experience, immersing himself completely in an imaginary world, that helped him to learn how to create such vivid worlds in his writing. He called upon his knowledge of war scenes in the video game Metal Gear Solid as well as research on Wikipedia to create the detailed scenes in Impasse.
Kyle still has feelings of isolation but his selection by YPT to represent his class at the New Play Festival has gained him some respect among his classmates. They selected him to create a script out of their acting class improvisations. “That made me feel special.”