Entering college, young men and women are suddenly expected to know what they want to do with their lives. It’s a daunting question to answer at such a young age – and is the inspiration behind a new award-winning play by first-year Media and Screen Studies and Theatre major Ashley DiLorenzo. Her play “Hopefully: An Ethnodrama” won first place in the 2021 YouthPLAYS New Voices One-Act Competition for Young Playwrights.
Since the fifth grade, DiLorenzo has been involved in theatre and has been writing scripts for three years. Her playwrighting journey began in the classroom. “I had always been a fan of theatre and writing, but I never combined the two of those things until then,” stated DiLorenzo.
In high school, DiLorenzo fostered her new interest through an afterschool organization called the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) in New York. The organization helped her write more consistently and receive feedback on her work.
As a member of the International Thespian Society, DiLorenzo participated in a workshop run by YouthPLAYS, her first exposure to the organization which provides scripts and musicals to schools, youth theaters, and community theaters and celebrates emerging young playwrights with their annual competition.
The encounter inspired DiLorenzo to start working on a one-act play for the competition in winter 2020. “I originally wanted to do a song cycle, which is common in musical theatre, but with my inexperience writing music it was a bit daunting,” she explained. “I still wanted to get my story out there, so I decided to shift gears and write it as an ethnodrama instead.”
Using her own experience transitioning from high school to adulthood, as well as material gleaned from peer interviews and research, DiLorenzo produced “Hopefully: An Ethnodrama.” Another script she wrote premiered last month in a performance by Northeastern’s student theatre group, Silver Masque, a heady experience that DiLorenzo attributes to the creative community at the College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD).
“This is a uniquely CAMD experience,” DiLorenzo stated. “I was a bit skeptical at first because I didn’t think a STEM school would have a good theatre program. However, after attending a virtual tour, I decided to apply. Not only does CAMD allow me more flexibility with my major, but it also provides a close-knit and supportive art community where you can meet great people and collaborators. At CAMD, I feel like people actually care about your accomplishments.”
Despite her early success with playwrighting, DiLorenzo is excited to take advantage of Northeastern’s career exploration programs to get a wider view of the possibilities for her future. “I want to keep writing even if it isn’t my full-time job,” she said. “I’ve been exploring many aspects of the theatre industry, and more recently the media industry. I am really excited for Northeastern’s co-op experience so that I can discover what I like and what I don’t like.”
After her time at CAMD, DiLorenzo will be much closer to answering that age-old question: ‘what do you want to do with your life?’ She’s already got a great start.