The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Heather Simmons

'Normal Schnormal' takes Gold

TCT Spotlight


Carolyn Scott

The cast of "Normal Shnormal" by Ian Patrick Williams, winner of the Gold Quill award. From left to right: Jeanne Nearhoff, director Nicole Gockel and TJ Gockel.

The votes are in!

The winners of Tehachapi Community Theatre's Gold, Silver and Bronze Quill awards were announced after the final performance of the 2017 Playwrights' Festival on June 25.

The winning plays were selected by the audience members, who were encouraged to select their three favorite plays from the ten original short plays included in this year's production.

The winner of the 2017 Gold Quill award is "Normal Shnormal", directed by Nicole Gockel and written by Ian Patrick Williams, who could not attend the ceremony.

"[Directing a winning play] feels absolutely amazing," Gockel said. "It was my first time directing, and to be honest, I feel like I can only take credit for this wonderful casting, because I had the most amazing cast."

"Normal Shnormal" is a warm but comedic play about an elderly woman who goes to the doctor for a "normal" physical exam. The patient prescribes her doctor a dose of humor and advises him to enjoy the company of others while he is still young.

The second place Silver Quill award was presented to Tehachapi resident Katheryn Jacobson for "Staring at Nothing", directed by Shanan Harrell. "Staring at Nothing" is about a cynical man who discovers that a group of people who seem to spend their time gazing at nothing may see more than he does. The play encourages audience members to forget about everyday troubles and business and just "be".

"What I hope it conveys is that there are many levels to life, and there are some that are more superficial, and some are connected to something more meaningful," Jacobson said. "It's possible for everyone to access those states if they don't run around in a constant state of busyness and anxiety."

"Staring at Nothing" is the fourth play that Jacobson has submitted to TCT over the years, but the first to be selected for performance during a Playwrights' Festival.

The winner of this year's Bronze Quill award is "Empty Nest", directed by Rebecca Wilson and written by Dave Shacklock, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

"Empty Nest" is about a couple sending their triplets off to college. The parents are extremely proud of each of their accomplished children: the future lawyer, the pre-med student and their youngest son, who has been accepted into the best clown college in the country.

Seven other original ten-minute plays were presented during the Playwrights' Festival.

"Places Please", by Dan Berkowitz, is about a community theatre opening night that turns dark when an actress reveals that she has had enough of her husband's abuse, and has taken drastic measures to permanently stop his violent behavior. The play asks whether "the show must go on" even with so much drama off the stage.

"The New Guy", by Greg Cunningham, is a comedic play about a man's first day as the newest member of the town council. He meets the other quirky councilmembers and soon realizes that "there is nothing normal" about the Lake Normal City Council.

"Pig Tale", written by Joe Godfrey, is a comedic spin on the story of the "Three Little Pigs" in which a nervous pig contacts a real estate agent to help him sell his sturdy brick house in a neighborhood terrorized by a wolf.

"Littering", written by Norm Haughness, is a courtroom drama set in the South during the 1950s in which an African-American man is charged with littering. The play explores how the idea of "normal" changes over time along with general attitudes toward issues such as free speech, racism and differences of opinion.

"Silent Neighbors", written by Barbara Hoffman, explores the consequences of keeping to one's self in an era when few people know their neighbors. Based on true events from Hoffman's life, the play urges audience members to pay more attention to those around them, as intervention could prevent tragedies.

"Sometimes when we see changes in behaviors or patterns, we should take the next step and find out if something's wrong," Hoffman said.

"Braided", by John Nase, is about a young girl who donates her long braids to a friend who has lost her hair to cancer treatments. Her action inspires her classmates to use their own talents and possessions to help others. The play suggests that selfless behavior is not always "normal", but that the world might be a better place if it was.

"One Bullet" was written by this year's youngest playwright, 16-year-old Kaylee Winn. The play is about a teenager whose life was cut short by a single bullet. Now she must use all that she has learned in life to pass a test that decides how she will spend eternity.

The lights have dimmed on another Playwrights' Festival, but words and ideas may already be swirling in the minds of a new group of playwrights who will put pens to paper or hands to keyboards in preparation for next year's Playwrights' Festival.


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