When Lillian Keller was in the third grade, she heard that her school’s newly created drama club would be performing James and the Giant Peach, which just happened to be one of her favorite books. "I thought, oh, that’ll be fun!" says Lillian, now a fifth grader at Bancroft Elementary School. From that moment on, she was hooked. She’s been involved in theater ever since.
When YPT brought the In-School Playwriting Program to Lillian’s class last fall, she was no stranger to creative writing. She has been helping her older sister, who wants to be author, write stories for years. Playwriting, however, was something she had never tackled before. "At first, I didn’t know much about writing plays," Lillian admits. "I had read them, but I was like, hmmm, I wonder how these are written. And [my YPT teaching artist] helped me figure that out!"
Despite her inexperience, Lillian picked up playwriting quickly. Her play,The Big Race, was selected as one of 26 finalists for YPT’s New Play Festival out of more than 700 plays. At the Festival kickoff party on January 28, her play was read by professional actors in front of a crowd of more than 70 people. "It was quite nice to hear my play read," Lillian remarks with a smile. "It was a lot funnier when I heard it. That’s what makes writing plays so cool...People can actually see it put on."
The Big Race focuses on two rivals, Kieth and Clara, who are competing in a snowboarding race. Kieth attempts to sabotage Clara throughout the play by rolling a boulder at her, taking the oil out of her car and chasing her off the slopes in a bear costume. Eventually, the two put aside their differences and challenge each other to be better snowboarders. Lillian got the idea for her play from a skiing trip her family took to Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago. "Sometimes I write about my own life, but sometimes I’ll draw things from crazy dreams, or things my family likes to do. Like when I was younger, I wrote a story about a dragon, because my sister was totally obsessed with dragons."
While she is a gifted writer, it is veterinary science that Lillian wants to pursue when she grows up. "I’ve wanted to be a vet since I knew they existed," she says excitedly. "I love animals. And science is actually pretty cool!"
When she is not writing or spending time with her dog Wall-E, Lillian likes to draw, paint, play soccer and basketball and practice karate. And, of course, she is still involved in the drama club that got her hooked on theater with James and the Giant Peach two years ago. This year they are performing The Wizard of Oz. "I’m playing the Wicked Witch of the West," Lillian says. She adds with a grin, "I get to melt."
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