By Leila Wickliffe
Eden Daughtry, a senior at Ponte Vedra High School and Vice President of the International Thespians Society (ITS), shared her hilariously touching self-written and directed one acts on April 11 for the One Act Showcase. She took Nuptials to the One Act Competition at ITS earlier this year. After receiving positive reviews from a potential scene for a prequel, Daughtry decided to write a prequel, Val and I. Both Val and I and Nuptials follow the same friend group through flirtatious meetings in college to their friend getting cold feet at her wedding.
Bringing Nuptials to life has been a labor of love for Daughtry since her freshman year at PVHS. The idea of a girl getting cold feet before her wedding was an early draft Daughtry thought of for an assignment in Theatre 1. She thought it would be interesting to explore how the entire wedding party reacts to the news of their friend getting cold feet. She was encouraged by Lindsay Goldman, now a senior at PVHS, to finish writing the play. “I thought I was going to, and I completely forgot about it until three years later,” Daughtry said. When Mr. Nettle, the theatre director, announced that there would be a one-act showcase performance, she proposed that they use her idea, Nuptials. Although the idea came in her first year at PVHS, Daughtry is sure that she wouldn’t have been able to write Nuptials back then. “I think I had to do a lot of soul-searching, researching, and learning,” Daughtry reflected. She found inspiration from Mr. Nettle and from reading plays such as Proof by David Auburn. Mr. Nettle encouraged her to continue writing after reading how well the characters interacted and spoke with each other like real people, like a family.
The process of getting both Nuptials and Val and I on stage was an extensive effort. She said that writing both one-acts was one of the easier processes for her since Nuptials took two days to complete, and Val and I only took one night. Although this was her first time directing, Daughtry found that it came easy. “I knew how I wrote it; I knew how I wanted it to sound, and I knew how I wanted them to sound in my head,” Daughtry recalled. “I would do this thing where in the middle of an entire scene I would stop them and say: ‘Alright stop! I want you to say it like this instead!’” Daughtry had a vision of what the characters would say and how they would say it. Daughtry expressed her love and gratitude for her actors since she got to work so closely with everyone through the entire process. Although Mr. Nettle approved the production, he let Daughtry know it couldn’t interfere with other school productions. With these guidelines, the cast would get to school at 7:30 a.m. to rehearse every day. Many of the actors had other obligations: rehearsals for Clue, Kiss Me Kate, and Sharkapellas. Despite all of this, Daughtry said they would be at school from 7:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. to prepare. For that, Daughtry was so thankful for all the effort everyone put into the showcase. She credited the success of the showcase to the team effort that was put in through the entire process.
“I would do this thing where in the middle of an entire scene I would stop them and say: ‘Alright stop! I want you to say it like this instead!”Eden Daughtry
Daughtry’s playwriting has earned praise from judges at ITS and her peers. Despite her seemingly natural talent for writing, she always believed that her passion was performing on stage. “I thought I was going to sing, I thought I was going to act, I thought I was going to be in front of everybody on stage, and that’s all I ever did up until the beginning of this year.” She has been in numerous PVHS productions such as High School Musical and Crucible. “I never thought this would be something that I would do. I think if I told my freshman self that I wrote a play and I wasn’t in it, she would probably would’ve kicked me in the shins because I never imagined myself being behind the scenes.” Despite her love for being in front of an audience, she found that being behind the scenes was one of the most rewarding experiences. When she took Nuptials to the competition, Daughtry remembered how nervous she was. However, as soon as one of the characters, Hal, cracked a joke about “speaking chick,” the entire room started to laugh. “I realized in that moment, that was more fulfilling and more rewarding than being up on stage had ever been,” she reflected. “I loved being on stage, and I still do, but it doesn’t compare at all to writing.”
After her senior year comes to a close, Daughtry will attend the University of Tennessee Knoxville. As for her on-stage career, she hopes that she will be able to act, but she doesn’t see it in her future. However, she does seem certain that she will continue writing plays throughout college. Over the past year, Daughtry has found comfort and escape through playwriting, and she said she has about eight unfinished works. “I don’t think I will do theatre in college, but I will definitely write plays,” she asserted. Although she was slightly hesitant to write, once she finished the one-act and shared it with her peers, they all told her that it was hilarious and honest. “I never thought I would be good at it, but now it’s one of the only things I do all the time,” Daughtry said. The impression her writing has left on her audience has lasted over months, and people have been begging to read more of her work. Being an amazing writer speaks to her capability as a well-rounded theatre student, and Daughtry looks forward to what the world of playwriting will hold for her.