Hillsdale alumna Eliz­abeth Gray ‘12 orig­i­nally wrote her one act play as part of a final assignment for a play­writing class at Hillsdale. When she saw the adver­tisement for a one act com­pe­tition, she remem­bered the play she had written and decided to edit it and enter it in the com­pe­tition.

In January, she had the oppor­tunity to direct and perform her play for the Man­hattan Repertory Theatre’s Winter One Act Play Com­pe­tition.

“I never really con­sidered myself a writer,” Gray said, “so when I saw the adver­tisement for the one act, I just decided, ‘I really want to win,’ kind of as a dare to myself.”

Gray sub­mitted the play to the com­pe­tition in October. In late November, she found out her play had been accepted for the contest and began looking for actors in New York City, where she lives. She ended up casting Kirsty Sadler ‘11, a Hillsdale graduate also living in New York, and Mark Keller ‘13, a Hillsdale graduate who moved to New York for two months to rehearse.

The play, “The Kazoo,” is set in an Ohio corn­field and has three char­acters: friends and neighbors who grow up living next to the corn­field. The plot revolves around this corn­field and a ter­rible accident that occurs there, threat­ening to destroy the char­acters’ friendship.

“The story is about how they learn to grow, face the tragedy, forgive each other, and find for­giveness,” Gray said.

The group rehearsed four days a week for two hours each day through December and January.

“Eliz­abeth works at a yoga studio,” Sadler said. “She was able to get the studio to lend her time and space, so she didn’t have to pay. That was amazing because a lot of times it’s a problem getting free rehearsal space.”

After two months of rehearsals, the play had a five-night run at the com­pe­tition from Jan. 21 to 25 at the Man­hattan Repertory Theater in Times Square.

“It’s tech­ni­cally a play­wright com­pe­tition, so judging is on the play and how well the play does in the actual per­for­mance,” Sadler said.

“It was an audience-based vote, so the audience would rank your play from one to five, one being the worst and five being the best,” she con­tinued, “and at the end of the week everyone’s scores were added up, and the top three went on to the semi-finals.”

Although “The Kazoo” did not advance to the semi-finals, the actors felt the play was well-received by the audience.

“We got a really good response,” Sadler said. “The last scene was really intense. You could hear a pin drop. There was some snif­fling as well.”

“All the feedback we got was very pos­itive,” Gray said. “We had people we didn’t even know come up to us and talk to us about it.”

Gray said she would def­i­nitely con­sider entering the com­pe­tition again and that she enjoyed the expe­rience of per­forming at the Man­hattan Repertory Theatre.

“I now have a rela­tionship with the main pro­ducer there, the owner of the theater,” Gray said. “It was a great venue for the show. It was right in Times Square, so it was right in the heart of the Theatre Dis­trict, and there was a lot of energy.”

Overall, Gray said she was pleased with the results.

“We felt very put together and well-rehearsed. I was extremely happy with it,” Gray said. “I thought the actors put a lot of effort in, and it turned out to be a fan­tastic pro­duction.”