It was a first in the history of the ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY theater program – and the culmination of a passion project born during a summer of boredom spent in COVID lockdown. The premiere of Crossroads, a short play written and directed by senior Chloe Davis ‘22, was a highlight of IPA’s annual Spring Theater production in March.
“During the summers, I usually go on trips or go out and do things, but the first summer of the pandemic, I was just stuck in the house. I felt like I needed to write something that was purely escapism,” explains Davis about how Crossroads came about. “Just the idea of being able to go and travel, and set in a time when there’s no COVID – all these things that weren’t in my real world. I needed an outlet and it ended up with me writing the play. I busted it out in about four days, and I felt pretty good about it.”
“For as long as I can remember Chloe has been passionate about writing and writing in different forms,” shares Brandi Dul, Secondary theater teacher, who has worked with Chloe since she was in Grade 2. “She’s always done a lot of journaling and a lot of creative writing and she sampled some playwriting here and there. Over the years she’s really developed that side of her writing abilities and she has a really interesting writing voice.”
Crossroads is the story of two best friends at the intersection of adolescence and adulthood, and follows their journey and evolving relationship as they embark on a summer road trip across the country before starting college. Along the way, they pick up new friends, see new sights, and experience new things, all colored with the overlay of Americana.
“I’m a teenager and I write about what’s going on and what I know,” shares Davis. “At its heart, Crossroads is a story about journey, in every way that that could possibly mean – the literal, physical journey and the journey of growing up and discovery and figuring things out. It’s about two friends at a pivotal moment in their lives where they have to go off to college, so they take a road trip from the top of Maine to the bottom of California, and along the way they figure out who they are and what they want to do and what their lives mean to them.”
Davis never imagined that her play would be performed for IPA’s Spring Theater production, or that she would have the opportunity to cast and direct her peers performing her own work. But with the encouragement and support of her friends, classmates, and Ms. Dul, it all came together successfully.
“I shared what I was working on with Tim Fuller. He’s my best friend – like since-the-first-day-of-kindergarten best friend,” laughs Davis. “He’s always been my outlet creatively and he inspires me constantly with his own endeavors and goals, so I always feel comfortable sharing my stuff with him.”
For fun, the two of them spent hours going over Davis’s play together while Fuller, whose forte is set design, sketched out scenes based on the script.
“Tim’s like ‘We have to do this. Wouldn’t that be so fun if we did this,’” shares Davis. She laughed it off as just talk, never thinking it would happen, but Fuller was persistent and reached out to their theater classmates and Ms. Dul with the idea.
“The group of seniors came to me together – this is before school even started – and said we have an idea for a play, ” remembers Dul. “I said OK, and they showed me this box with all the prototypes they had created of their vision – little sketches of sets, scale models of scenery, programs, T-shirt designs – and I mean all kinds of things to show me and to talk about how passionate they were about putting this show on.”
Dul was really impressed with their creativity and vision and was convinced immediately. She knew they would be able to produce it in some way. They ended up producing it for the main stage, with two additional short plays for the spring theater performance.
“Throughout it all, it was hard to believe that this was something that was really happening,” shares Davis. “I can’t in any way take credit for this effort to get it done – it was loving friends and a theater community that continually supported me and helped me. That favor was the main reason it all happened.”
“There were so many aspects of this whole experience that were so rewarding – the feeling in knowing that Ms. Dul trusted me enough and believed in me enough to give me the opportunity and be so hands-off; to see the ideas we bounced around become fully actualized on stage with costumes and hair and sets; and to sit in the audience with my full heart on my sleeve and see peopleʻs reactions and hear them laugh was one of the greatest things ever,” shares Davis.
But the most rewarding part of it all was knowing that her story resonated with her audience. “To create a story that connects with people and have them see themselves in it – I never thought I would do that or have that opportunity,” Davis reflects. “I know about being at that age of a middle school girl, not knowing who they are, or having things that were confusing and different and just grappling with it. Giving someone an opportunity to see themselves in something is the most gratifying thing, and I think that might be the biggest reward out of all of it. That was really cool, really beautiful.”
Following her graduation in May, Davis will be making her own journey to Southern Oregon University in Ashland, where Shakespeare in the Park first started. The university has a large theater department, and Davis plans to major in theater and develop her screenwriting.
“Chloe has developed strong skills in so many different things – from communicating to leading to planning to creating to budgeting to putting all of that together and articulating a vision,” shared Dul. “And then to communicating that vision and getting an entire team on board to create that vision and overseeing the building of that vision and then at the very end, thanking everybody involved from the heart and making sure everyone had a great experience and being one of the last people to help lock up and clean up and make sure everything is taken care of.”
“She has been able to create such a legacy in the theater program over the years. What Chloe’s done here will continue and, in that way, she will continue to give back to the program long after she graduates.”
“One of the most valuable things Iʻll take with me from IPA is the confidence to put myself out there, knowing Iʻve learned the tools it takes to build something up and believe in something and then execute it,” shares Davis. “That idea that if you don’t like things you have the ability to change them and you’re allowed to bring your own ideas in the world and they are able to be treasured. Having that confidence and experience and knowing I’ve done this before and I can do this now lets me know it’s not just a pipe dream. We’re able to do big things.”
I mua me kahaʻaheo.