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Cayuga teen has write stuff

By Samantha Craggs staff writer

A Cayuga teenager is already making waves as a playwright as the winner of the Lighthouse Festival Theatre's first Young Playwright's Competition.

Jeremy Lalonde, 17, will get to see his murder-mystery drama, Destiny's Illusions, read Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. at the theatre in Port Dover.

"I look at myself at 17 and I look at this and it's pretty good stuff," said LFT artistic director Robert More, who will be directing the reading.

Lalonde's play is one act and 41 pages. Professional actors, along with two or three young company actors, will do the reading.

"I think it will be incredible for him to hear comments from people with 20 or 30 years experience," said More, who organized the competition and has years of acting, directing and writing experience himself.

Lalonde said he is looking forward to hearing comments on his play, which starts with a court room scene and moves backwards to the crime. He said the workshops he will attend Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will help prepare him for his life goal - a career in writing and directing.

"I keep hearing that it's all about connections," he said. "It's knowing someone who knows someone else and that's how you get into it. I will probably meet a lot of interesting people this weekend."

Lalonde said he has been writing short stories since he was a youngster and started on screenplays when he was in Grade 9. He began Destiny's Illusions when he was in Grade 10, writing a couple of scenes here and there until it turned into a play.

He said while he has written scripts on different topics and eras and tries to never use the same genre twice, he prefers crime dramas.

"Criminals are the most interesting characters you can write," said Lalonde, who is reading Elmer Leonard (Get Shorty, Rum Punch) right now.

As for movie makers, he favours Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino.

"You read a lot of scripts that never stray from the plot," he said. "With Tarantino and Woody Allen, their styles are more conversational. I enjoy that."

Lalonde actually runs a small theatre company near Cayuga with his friend Jessica DeAngelis called Canfield Characters. The company performs one play per summer and this summer's was written and directed by him.

"This is different, though," he said of the theatre competition. "This is a professional company doing something of mine. When I wrote it, I had teenagers in mind to play the roles. When Robert (More) asked me the ages of the characters I wasn't sure what to say. I hadn't really thought about it."

More said the competition is designed to get youth more involved and interested in theatre.

"They are the audience of tomorrow, after all," he said. "In my experience, watching high school students getting involved in theatre, they develop confidence and poise. It develops the body and the mind, which can only be good for the individual."

He said there were several entries in the competition, which was a pleasant surprise. He said he plans to expand the competition next year, possibly getting teachers this fall to encourage students to write plays and even make the submission part of the curriculum.

Lalonde, however, needs no urging. He is sending screenplays out to film companies and plans to study film in university when he graduates. He is also the Minister of Foods on the Cayuga Secondary School students' council, member of the yearbook staff and, of course, vice president of the drama club.

"It's an escape," he said of writing. "It's a way to stage life in a different way."