SCITUATE MARINER – World War II is drawing to a close and the Germans are on the edge of defeat. A group of young cadets, highly-trained members of the Hitler Youth, are making a last stand.
“They’re going out to fight the Soviets, who are approaching Berlin,” said Alex Moon, a senior at Scituate High School. “When they get out into the fields all the things they’ve been taught fall apart. They don’t have radio communication, or food or water. They are totally abandoned and are now forced to fight grown men with years of combat training.”
Moon knows quite a bit about this story – a one-act play titled, “The Werewolves” – he wrote it.
“I did a lot of research,” Moon said. “It’s based on a true story.”
The play will be performed by The Academy of The Company Theatre, or A.C.T., Teen Conservatory – a professional educational performing arts program of which Moon has been a member for five years.
Moon’s work came to the attention of Zoe Bradford, co-founder/artistic director of The Company Theatre, and artistic director Jordie Saucerman. The two agreed Moon was an exceptional student and his ability to put together a play of this nature warranted the opportunity for it to be further developed.
“It was so exciting,” Moon said of the New York City show. “We had a cast that was only a couple of years older than me. They were so great. My director, my production team – everyone worked so hard. It ran for one weekend. It was a great experience and a great opportunity. I got to reconnect with so many of my friends who are in the New York theater scene.”
Fundraising offset the costs of bringing the play to New York.
“Feedback was great,” Moon said. “A lot of people thought it was really inspiring. We felt we had the responsibility to present the reality of this.”
Once it had reached the level of being performed at the New York City theater festival, Bradford – who is also a producer and member of the design team – said staff at A.C.T. discussed the possibility of expanding on it with scenery, lighting and some script edits, and producing it at The Company Theatre.
As a playwright herself, Bradford has a particular passion for historic based plays and musicals.
“When I heard that Alex had researched this actual group of Hitleryungen (Nazi youth), I thought he had touched upon a theme that has powerful relevance today,” she said.
The first step, Bradford said, was to hire a director that relates well to young people and wass not afraid to push youthful actors to emotions, reactions and situations that would, and should, be out of their comfort zone.
Kevin Kline, who has guest directed for The Company Theatre in the past, was Bradford’s first choice, and he accepted.
Bradford said she is excited to see what Kline brings to the table with his directing abilities and his insights into the teenage mind.
“As the producer, I worked together with [Kline] to cast the production, and we challenged Alex to explore deeper some of the intense moments of the play, and do some editing and re-writes,” she said. “I believe he has enjoyed this collaboration with experienced adults who believe in his abilities. Much work, including discussions and improvisational exercises, will be done with the students to make the piece seem real and believable.”
Moon was a freshman when he began working on “The Werewolves,” his second play.
“It really fascinated me what someone my age would do in these extreme situations,” he said. “I’ve always been a history nerd, so I look at all kinds of history for my play-writing. I did a lot of reworking and rewriting on it, but it’s been really really interesting.”
Moon said both of his parents are creative and that he hangs around with “a lot of really creative people,” so he tries to do something productive for at least an hour every day when it comes to his writing.
“If I’m not writing I’m editing or revising or sending out emails,” he said. “Writer’s block comes in different forms; for me it’s if I haven’t written in a day or two.”
He also enjoys reading “lots of plays,” he said.
“I like old ones, new ones; Arthur Miller, Shakespeare – anyone who has made a name for themselves,” he said.
The folks at The Company Theatre have always been proud of him, and have always encouraged him, Moon said.
“I’ve learned so much there,” he said. “When they heard the play was getting its legs and doing well, they were interested. I feel I’ve come full circle and am part of the creative team.”
Bradford find the themes in “Werewolves” timely and relevant in light of the awareness of the activities of Neo-Nazi groups in the United States.
“Although it is set in the dark background of WWII, the play has some humor and does end on a note of hope and redemption,” she said. “I highly recommend it for teens and adults, and believe it could open doors for many discussions.”
Moon has been in contact with Bradford and Kline, talking about the script and fleshing out the performance.
“As nervous as it makes me, I feel it’s time to get it out into the world,” he said. “My biggest challenge is to let it out without standing over it.”
As for what’s next, Moon said he is looking to branch out into the Boston theater scene.
Performances of ‘The Werewolves’ will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19 at The Company Theatre, located at 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell. Tickets are $18 for students/$20 for adults and may be purchased at the Box Office at 781-871-2787.
For more information visit www.companytheatre.com.
Please be aware that the play contains mature themes and language.
By Ruth Thompson