By Estelle Hallick
Twins Alyssa and Laura Waldron grew up writing stories together and accidentally splattering paint on their mother’s rug in Pine Plains, New York. Now, years later, things are a lot less messy for the Lang juniors, as they gear up for another creative collaboration—their play, The Red Paintball, which will be featured as part of the Strawberry One-Act festival in New York in February.
The Red Paintball is a dark comedy spotlighting an “out-of-his-mind” Christian high school principal named Maxwell Morrison who is hit with—you guessed it—a red paintball as he is bicycling home from a meeting one day. The aftermath of the student prank is the main focus of the twenty-five minute play.
The project began as one of Laura’s class assignments in an introductory theatre class at their previous school, Dutchess Community College. It was a hit and chosen for an end-of-the-semester show, recognized with the college’s Writing Center Award that year.
“That was going to be it," Alyssa explains, "but the theatre club at school had a showcase going up in the city, and we offered The Red Paintball to their cause. When we added it [and it was performed], people got whipped into a frenzy."
The excitement did not end there. It was also well received at the Producer’s Club in May 2005 before being put to rest for a little while. But not for too long—upon their move to New York City, Laura and Alyssa revived Paintball when they decided to submit it to two festivals.
Consequently, the play was accepted into the 12th annual Strawberry One-Act Festival, a play competition that attracts hundreds of submissions from across the country each year. Forty are chosen to participate in the festival. From there, the plays are broken down into several performances where four plays are featured at a time. The winning play is awarded a grant and the chance for a full-length play to be developed by New York’s Riant Theatre.
Recently, before their big night, there was much to do—they had to finish casting (the lead actor is “amazingly hilarious”), directing (Laura’s forte), tweaking every word and (unfortunately) went on a last minute search for a light board operator.
There are the obvious expectations. “Oh jeez,” Alyssa starts, just as modest as ever, “[they are] semi-high, just because [the play] did so well last time and we’ve improved it.” Her favorite time of the night? “The best moment is definitely when [the audience] laughs, and I mean like, actual roaring laughter. That satisfies me so much.”
For these siblings, the need to create is one that will never be satisfied. Alyssa is hoping to finish a couple of the musicals she has started to pen and revisit the “craptacular pages” of a historical novel she began a few years ago. As for collaborative projects, Alyssa and Laura have embarked on a full-length play starring Maxwell Morrison, the Paintball character, which they say has gained some interest from a production company as well.
From stage to page, the possibilities are incredibly endless. Cue curtain.
The Red Paintball will be performed at the Strawberry One-Act Festival on February 17th at 7 p.m. at The American Theater of Actors, 314 West 54th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue. Visit www.manhattanrep.org for the upcoming SpringFest production of The Red Paintball.