By Nicholas Hodge

Two Algonquin scriptwriting students may have their work performed in the Youth Infringement Festival in May, an Ottawa theatre event showcasing material relevant and accessible for youth.

Laura McLean and Katrina Tortorici have each written a script that has been shortlisted for the event. They are now being professionally mentored and could see their work performed live in the festival.

The Youth Infringement Festival, an annual event in its 16th year, will run from May 12th to 18th and takes place at Art’s Court Theatre, beside the Rideau Centre. The festival features material performed and created by youth aged 15 to 25. Scriptwriters interested in having their plays acted out submit their work in the fall.

Before the festival takes place, the 15 scripts that have been chosen are read by a theatre professional. The professional works with the scriptwriter to develop the play and provide mentorship over a month long period.

“We like to hire people that youth in the city look up to,” said Lily Sutherland, senior producer of the Youth Infringement Festival. “Somebody that we trust as an artist.”

Tortorici said that changes suggested by her mentor improved the original script.

“Because it’s the first play I’ve ever written I wasn’t aware, as much, of the stage directions. So he really helped me realize you can’t have these actors just sit the entire time. They’ve got to move around.”

“That changed up the entire thing,” she said. “But for the better, definitely.”

Both Tortorici and McLean have written scripts that are comedic in nature but are dissimilar in theme.

McLean’s play is titled Classic Horror Movie Mistakes.

“It takes place during a zombie apocalypse,” said McLean.

Throughout the play a professor teaches students how to survive the apocalypse by showing them examples of mistakes made by characters in his favourite horror movies.

“As he shows them each mistake there’s a split stage where the movie scene is re-enacted by other actors and the movie scene is ridiculous and over the top.”

“Mine is called Lottery Tickets and Meatballs,” said Tortorici.

The play focuses on a noisy family of six that bump heads while discussing a hypothetical situation where they win the lottery.

“It just leads up to this giant argument at the dinner table and everything blows out of proportion and becomes really messy.”

Out of the 15 scripts selected this year for development, six will end up being performed in the festival. It is a new system for this year, previously only the scripts that would be performed were chosen and then revised. The new format gives writers whose work will not be performed a chance to still learn from the mentors.

“So far the feedback has been enthusiastic and positive,” said Sutherland about this year’s changes. “I wanted youth infringement to be more than a presentation of completed work.”