“As American as Cherry Pie”; About the Winter Play

I had the honor of interviewing junior, Gabriela Oconitrillo, who is wrote the winter play. Below are her perspectives giving me insights into the play.  This is what she told me.


What is your play about?

My play is an early 1950s coming-of-age love story about an all-American high schooler named Cherry Lane who meets a boy who just moved from Poland, Michael Schalman. Both Cherry and Michael are dealing with their own very different, but very overwhelming struggles. Cherry is trying to find her place in society, as she has always been told what to do and how to live by her peers and society, while Michael is overcoming the trauma from living through the Holocaust, an experience his father cannot move past. It tells a rocky, unexpected, emotional, but often comedic story about how two very different people from very different backgrounds can fall in love and grow as people. 


Why did you decide to write a play and, more specifically, how did you choose what to write about?

I had the idea of writing a show during my May Term class last year, “Demystifying the Magic of Theater,” during which we were asked to write one scene for people to perform. I came up with one of the scenes that’s now currently in my show and completely fell in love with the idea. I decided that I wanted to turn that one scene into an entire story, and because we performed a student-written show last year, I knew it would be possible for me to have this opportunity. I brought up my idea to Ms. Crace. She loved it, and here I am now. 


I knew I wanted the play to be based on a certain time period. I chose the 50s because I love the entire aesthetic of it: the clothes, the slang, the drive-in theaters, the diners, all of it. I also knew I wanted to include something historical, and although I’ve never been into history as a subject, World War II and the Holocaust have always been of interest to me. This interest started at a very young age because of books we had to read in middle school about the Holocaust, so I thought this was a great opportunity to incorporate these interests into my show. 


How long did it take you to write the play? 

I first wrote that scene for May Term in early June and began my brainstorming from there. I finished writing the entire script in November. The entire process was about six months. 


What was your biggest obstacle to creating this play?

My biggest obstacle was finding the time to write the scenes. Because I had spent most of my summer planning the show, I did not have a very large amount of time to write. Then school started, so I was swamped, along with being the boys soccer manager, and being in the fall show, Mermaid. But, little by little, I made time to write as much as I could, and all turned out well.