TAMPA — Every spring, the Gorilla Theatre's Young Dramatists' Project selects the work of a handful of local high school playwrights for production by professional directors and actors. Here is a sampling of this year's winning plays. Performances will be Thursday through June 8 at the theater, 4419 N Hubert Ave., Tampa. Tickets are $20-$25; discounts for students and seniors. Call (813) 879-2914.
From Red Cross by Alexander Nunnelly, 16, Shorecrest Preparatory School, St. Petersburg
SCENE: Ethel, an elderly woman, talks to a rescue worker about her late husband.
DIALOGUE: "My husband, Donald, died 15 years ago. He had a heart attack while he was buying strawberries at a farmer's market — way out on Bourbons Road. By the time the ambulance got there, he was already dead. I was making his favorite shortcake, but didn't have the strawberries. When he died, I was alone. Pure and simple, as are you. I had to dig that grave alone. I had to fill it back in alone. And though I would never get to make shortcake for him again, I knew, in the back of my mind and in my heart, that he still enjoyed it. My husband died, but I did not die with him. And though I have never seen him again, I know that he's still enjoying life, with me.''
From Destruction Room by Gabriel Neustadt, 17, Shorecrest Preparatory School
SCENE: The founder of Destruction Room, a place where you can destroy anything you like for one low price, explains its success.
DIALOGUE: "It's the . . . epitome of human desire. To do whatever you want without consequences. With impunity. It's so beautifully simple . . . We've capitalized off the most basic, universal human emotion . . . You don't need to slap your worthless emotions upon MySpace for everyone to see. You don't need to visit some psychologist. You can just pay $29.95 and beat the crap outta something!''
From Fable de Veras by Andrew Ford, 18, Palm Harbor University High School
SCENE: An immigrant father encourages his daughter to live a full life.
DIALOGUE: "Vera, look at me. In the eyes. I want you to know . . .
You can be more than I had ever dreamed to be. You will be. That is what is supposed to happen. I am more successful than my father and my father was more successful than his father before him. I want you to know that I expect you to be better than me. Tell me . . . that you will do better than I have.''
From Aftershots by Elizabeth Klettke, 16,
Blake School for the Arts, Tampa
SCENE: A high school athlete, who survives a school shooting, wonders why.
DIALOGUE: "I was doing okay and then they came and told me that almost the entire football team was dead. Joe and Justin and Sam and Mike . . . all dead. That was the worst part. But then I wondered. I wondered why I was left. He could have done it. It would have been so easy. He had the gun right there. But he didn't. I didn't know why, and I just felt so bad that I was the one alive.''
From Order by Sierra Almengual, 17, Shorecrest Preparatory School
SCENE: An adopted teenager fights with his older brother.
DIALOGUE: "Do you know? I was so, so excited, when I heard I got a brother. I told everyone. Everyone who would listen to me for one second knew about you. And now I can't even remember why.''