Guest Blog: OCEAN DEBRIS at Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival

A table read is like picking at a scab. There is something painfully vulnerable about showing something integral to myself to a group of strangers, cutting away superfluous lines, and revealing the pulse of what's underneath. Yet through it all, there's a strange joy in it all--like C.S. Lewis said, "it is such fun to see it come away."

Indeed, the curtains are pulled back and the draft is finally pulled into the light. Ironically, when I walked into the table read for my play "Ocean Debris" for The Blank Theatre's 25th Annual Young Playwrights Festival, it was set in a fairly dim rehearsal space. But with the actors, directors, stage managers and dramaturg's energy and enthusiasm, the atmosphere certainly felt bright.

Even though I had heard most of these words spoken out loud and even performed before at my high school's Playfest, it was still slightly nerve-wracking to hear this latest draft read outloud. Though it was all new to the actors, I could pick out exactly which lines were old and which were new. By no means is this draft the final draft--I will still be making adjustments over the next week. Theater is a fluid, organic process--a true place of open-minded, loving collaboration as my director Angela Oh set the tone.

I was inspired to write "Ocean Debris" after reading a New York Times article about a man who continues to dive for his wife years after he lost her in the 2011 Japan tsunami. It deeply moved me and showed me the tenaciousness of humanity, the love and persistence that we as beings can demonstrate. I was also inspired by my research conducted on the Ama, women freedivers of Japan. With these two stories in mind I wrote a play about two teens who meet in a dive shop in Japan, six years after the tsunami.

As a second-time winner in the Festival, I was excited that "Ocean Debris" was chosen as one of the 12 winning plays written by writers from age 9-19. Not only will I be working with top-notch professional casts and crews, but also I get to promote what I am passionate about: Asian representation in Hollywood. Additionally, it's an honor to be one out of the 11 girls who were finalists this year--it's amazing to watch what young women can create when given the chance.

For the next two weeks, it'll be an emotional adventure to live in this small, rundown dive shop across the ocean from Southern California. I couldn't be more excited to start with just ink on paper, and watch it come alive with a heartbeat.

Stay tuned for more updates on the production process of bringing "Ocean Debirs" to life!

Guest Blog: OCEAN DEBRIS at Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival

Guest Blog: OCEAN DEBRIS at Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival

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"Ocean Debris" premieres the fourth week of the festival from June 22-25.

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From This Author Guest Blogger: Cassandra Hsiao