April 5, 2014

Young playwrights take a bow

Pendragon's Young Playwrights' Festival features works by two local students

SARANAC LAKE — It’s too early to collect royalties but not too early to take bows for playwrights Witter Swanson and Amber Baker.

Swanson and Baker garnered first place and runner-up, respectively, in Pendragon Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival today in Saranac Lake.

Swanson, a student at Saranac Lake High School, receives a full production of his play, “Elmer,” performed at 7 p.m. Baker, a student at Beekmantown Central School, receives a reading of her play, “The Esteemed Institute.” The two students were among those vying for these prizes for one-act plays.


“Witter wrote a super funny play,” said Karen Lordi-Kirkham, festival organizer. “He has a great knack for dialogue and humor.”

Swanson’s plot centers on Elmer, who is tasked to write an adventure book by his publisher.

“He’s the most boring man,” Lordi-Kirkham said. “He has all these little episodes that happen to him, even though they are not wild and crazy. He’s OK just the way he is. It’s a little bit about accepting who you are. That is one of the themes and trying new things and having courage. It’s a very clever play and quite fun to be staging.”

Lordi-Kirkham wanted to give the playwrights the thrill of a professional production with Pendragon actors.


Baker’s “The Esteemed Institute” is the polar opposite of Swanson’s “Elmer.”

“It’s a dark, political satire about three administrators that run a college,” Lordi-Kirkham said. “It is set in the future and has a very surreal feel to it. They are discussing an application whether they can come to the school. It takes a dark twist, and there is murder and mayhem at the end. She’s tackles some big social issues through the lens of dark comedy.”

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