The AES Daily
How many teenagers would be willing to give up one whole week of school to drive themselves crazy? I’m willing to guess that the answer would be, not many! Well this is what I do every year around this time.
What is it that I do, you ask? And why do I do it if it drives me crazy? Well folks, I’m proud to describe myself as a writer for the Avalon East Drama Festival Newspaper, the 'AES Daily', for short. I do it for one simple reason – I love to write…and they let me.
St. John’s holds a Drama Festival for one week during the month of April. Each night of the festival two to four schools perform a play as their entry in the festival. The Daily is a newspaper that includes previews of each play in the festival, reviews of plays that have already been performed, various articles on any aspect covering theater or improvisation, drawings, and things referred to as “filler”. Filler is Top Ten lists, Letters @ Lunch (a mock advice column), and Today’s Crew – a brief description of each staff member of the Daily (usually includes references to plays seen the night before.)
The setting for this organization is energizing, hectic, and fun filled. The air is filled with pressure; you must meet your deadline! For the reader’s information, once you see the plays, the reviews are due the next morning. It proves to be very difficult to do; managing to write a coherent article at one in the morning.
The actual process of putting together an issue of the newspaper is as follows: write, go through the complicated editing system. (Which includes editing your own work, getting others to edit it, getting the Senior Editor to revise it, and finally getting the newspaper’s co-ordinator to look at the piece.) Once all that is done, a writer must make sure it gets passed on to the layout people to do whatever it is they do (As you can see, I’m not much into the technical aspect of the paper). The article, once it’s laid out, gets photocopied. As soon as all the papers are printed and photocopied, the collating begins! Oh joy, oh bliss. Most consider this a boring task, but I quite enjoy it. It involves arranging the copies of printed paper in order around a table while everyone moves in a fast paced fashion, grabbing the papers as we go. Then, you staple. Something I am sure to avoid. Stapled copies are then carted off to be sold to the audience.
There aren’t really many rules that go along with writing a review, preview, or piece in general. Except that you should keep in mind that participants of the festival are only high school kids. Yes, some are enormously talented and used to the limelight. But there are a few out there that may step on a stage for the first time their performance night. So in other words, be gentle. We’re not giving out Oscars here, just some constructive criticism. Of course, use of profanity and suggestive material is frowned upon, but that goes without saying.
It’s not always work, work, work, here in the office. With twenty-two writers this year, there is time for breaks, laughing, and trots to the nearest food place. Last year there was even a sleepover! Well…we all stayed over to write, edit, and try to get an issue done before students trotted off for the weekend.
Despite all the stress and pressure endured by all, the feeling you experience seeing YOUR name in print, being read by everyone in the theater, makes everything worth while. There’s no greater feeling of euphoria than knowing all your blood, sweat, and tears, was worth something. So we don’t get paid - big deal! Recognition in the literary world is worth more to me than a million dollars.