This year, for the first time faculty director Titian Lish can remember, the school played host to a student-written play, just last week.
Stephanie Neuerburg, a Tracy High senior, penned the script for “Oh My Darling,” about two sisters on an 1850s farm who are left on their own when their father goes off to look for gold. Neuerburg said the play, which ran from Thursday to Saturday, was well-received by fairly full crowds at the Emma Baumgardner Theater.
“I thought it was beautiful,” Lish said. “It captures the complexity of the human spirit very well. It was really captivating … one of those pieces you wanted to keep watching, and you watched it over and over again.”
Neuerburg, 17, said she got the idea from the similarly named song, “Oh, My Darling Clementine.”
One day in history class, her teacher was showing a World War II film that she thought was a little too gruesome. The teacher let her go to the library instead. When she was there, she used the song as a platform for a short story, and then took it a step further by later writing a script.
Neuerburg said she feels more comfortable writing scripts as opposed to short stories, because she’s better at capturing dialogue.
This is Neuerburg’s second such script. The first, she joked, is so bad she doesn’t want to talk about it. “Oh My Darling” went through a few revisions before it was stage-ready, she said.
But Neuerburg said writing a play performed by four of her classmates, while an exciting idea, was a little daunting at first.
“Oh My Darling” was also directed by a student — Andi Huckaba. Neuerburg would watch rehearsals and see that sometimes the actors didn’t play a scene quite as she had envisioned. She had to walk a delicate balance between pal and playwright.
“It was really special to see my best friends performing something that I had written,” Neuerburg said. “But it was also pretty hard, because I got caught up in what they were doing at that very moment as I was watching them and not realizing that there’s still so much time for changes to be made.”
The actors — Sheena Sharifi, Alyssa Piwowarski, Victor Serda and Mitchell Adams — welcomed Neuerburg’s script. They said they enjoyed having the play’s writer in-house, in case they had any questions. That was unlike other performances, as they couldn’t exactly tap Neil Simon on the shoulder for pointers.
“It’s kind of surreal, because I’m just acting what my friend wrote,” Serda said. “You also get a different level of respect, because when the writer’s not there, you can change more stuff in the play. But this time, she’s there — she can make those corrections.”
Neuerburg said she wants to continue to write and participate in drama in some way. She’s been writing since she was 11 and said she hopes to publish a book someday. But for now, she’ll continue working as an actress and tech member for Tracy High’s drama club.
“She’s a really great, enthusiastic student, extraordinarily talented — every teacher’s dream,” Lish said.
• In the Spotlight is a weekly profile in Our Town. To nominate someone to be In the Spotlight or to comment on this week’s story, contact Our Town Editor Justin Lafferty at 830-4269 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Meet Stephanie Neuerburg
Education: Senior, Tracy High School
How long in Tracy: 16 years
Family: Parents, Tom and Jamie; brother, Ryan; sister, Emma
Favorite writers: J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, David Sedaris