"I think I have to have a career in theater," Julie Kashmanian says earnestly. "I can’t imagine doing anything else."
Since she can remember, Julie has loved creating stories. Now an eighth grader at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, she spent her childhood inventing wild original tales. Before she had even learned to write, she would dictate stories for her parents to transcribe while she did the illustrations. So when YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program came to her school last fall, she felt ready to write her first play. But the night before the first draft was due, she sat down at her computer and felt stuck.
"I was having a lot of writer’s block," Julie explains. "I had a completely different plot on my storyboard, but then I started thinking about basic relationships. I thought about my sister and what kind of things could happen to us, but exaggerated. I wanted the audience to feel like [the conflict in my play] could happen to anyone with a sibling."
The resulting play, Polished, tells the hilarious story of two sisters fighting for time in the bathroom, inspired by Julie’s relationship with her twin sister. When they find themselves trapped in the bathroom behind a stuck door, the sisters fear that they will be poisoned by nail polish fumes in "possibly the strangest near-death experience ever recorded." As the play progresses, they end up on the floor, clutching each other, saying their last goodbyes. Their severe overreaction is discovered moments later, when their mom opens the bathroom door to find them unharmed but gasping for air. Julie’s YPT teaching artist nominated Polished for the 2012 New Play Festival, and YPT’s reading committee enthusiastically selected it for production.
"It was so cool," Julie says with a grin. "Nothing like that had ever happened to me before.
On April 23, surrounded by family, friends and community members, Julie saw her play performed by professional actors at GALA Hispanic Theatre. "It was amazing," Julie says. "I didn’t think much of myself as a writer before. Now I feel like I have more of a chance of my work being taken seriously. If kids got more opportunities like this, it would help them express themselves better."
In addition to writing and acting, Julie also sings, dances, plays the piano, and has recently been studying costume design. She is ready to take the theater world by storm!
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|Julie and her twin sister pose with the actors who portray the twin sisters in her play.