Hayward local wins “Cagematch” playwright competition


Photo | Chris Valentine

Actors perform in the Cafetorium setting during Sunday’s Playwright Cagematch.

Brianna Leahy,

With 67 script submissions from across the country, and as far away as New Zealand, five talented writers were chosen to allow their scripts to be read for a chance to win the Douglas Morrisson Theatre’s 3rd Annual Cagematch. The theme this year was “The Cafetorium Chronicles: Lost and Found.”

“Historically, sometimes, they call DMT the best kept secret, and we’re trying not to be a best kept secret anymore,” says Artistic Director Susan E. Evans.

There were only three rules: four characters or less, no longer than 20 minutes, and the scene had to take place in a Cafetorium.

The event itself was no cost to the public, however for one playwright to be chosen, audience members had the choice to purchase tokens to vote for their favorite script. The actors had one rehearsal before the event.

Of the five playwrights chosen, two were local and the other three, were not in attendance and hail from Chicago, Michigan, and New Jersey.

The event gained as much notoriety after being posted on a highly-trafficked blog. Evans chose the five to debut and while she focused on the scripts she hoped for some competitive local scripts.

Inspired by a hairless raccoon, the first playwright cagematch, “Tales from the Hairless Raccoon,” took place three years ago.

Stemming from a casual conversation about an animal plagued by mange, all five scenes took place in an imaginary dive bar in Mississippi, coined the Hairless Raccoon. Last year’s theme was “the Hotel Barbery.”

This year, all scenes took place in a Cafetorium, chosen because the event itself took place in the Hayward Area Senior Center Cafetorium, due to construction currently taking place in the Douglas Morrisson Theatre.

With all five scenes taking place in a cafetorium, the subject mainly revolved, though loosely, around high school issues.

The winning scene, written by Hayward local Sami Cowan, narrowed in on mental health, taking place mainly in one student’s imagination. “I’ve always been interested in mental health,” says Cowan, who is still in high school, and works crew at DMT.

Performers act out their scripts at Douglas Morrison Theatre on Sunday.
Performers act out their scripts at Douglas Morrison Theatre on Sunday.

“Lost Experiment Found! From the Cafetorium Chronicles,” the second-place winning scene, written by local actor and writer Bunny Marlene Walker, focused on the ghosts of high school students who were stuck to haunt the cafeteria of their school.

The script let the characters hold onto what could have been, maintaining the persona of who the characters were when they attended school.

“I’ve lost a couple people in high school, and that’s what got me going, and that’s where I started. Gee, if I could talk to them again…” says Walker about her script.
“Career Day or Between Rock and a Hard Place,” written by Leonard Franks, took third place.

Taking place at a career day, the humorous scene juxtaposed glamor and importance when it comes to choosing a career. The sketch also included singing on tables.

The first scene to be read, “The Letter B,” by Nicole L.V. Mullis, illustrates the anxiety and turmoil so many students are put through associated with testing. Heather, our character, despite being fully and completely prepared for her PSAT, cannot remember the proper way to form a cursive ‘B’.

The final scene, “Give Me Back My Scrunchy, B**ch! A Ten-Minute Play about Love… and Britney Spears,” written by Tommy Jamerson, highlighted the views of young girls, as well as friendship and celebrity obsession.

There was even an appearance from a cross-dressing “Hallucination Britney,” a self-proclaimed attempt by the writer to use up more time.

“I expected it to be slightly more prepared or theatrical,” says Ansh Shukla, a member of the audience who attended because he likes plays. “It was pretty low key.”

The theater is currently undergoing ADA improvements in the lobby and the restrooms, which will leave the theatre more accessible. It will be open to the public for the Morrisson Theatre Chorus, July 24 to July 26.