Carlmont student presents original play: ‘The Diner on Washington Street’

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Carlmont student presents original play: ‘The Diner on Washington Street’

A diverse group of actors and artists try to make ends meet at a failing diner in Los Angeles.

A diverse group of actors and artists try to make ends meet at a failing diner in Los Angeles.

Cath Lei

A diverse group of actors and artists try to make ends meet at a failing diner in Los Angeles.

Cath Lei

Cath Lei

A diverse group of actors and artists try to make ends meet at a failing diner in Los Angeles.

Hannah Young, Staff Writer

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Second semester of senior year is often spent relaxing and anticipating college acceptance letters. For Denis Yudin, however, second semester has been spent directing his original play, “The Diner on Washington Street.”

The inspiration for “The Diner on Washington Street” came to Yudin at a rundown diner in San Francisco. Yudin’s keen eye for a good story was not deterred by the subpar service and disgusting food. From the sarcastic Russian immigrant at the bar, to the prima donna British waitress, to the tyrannical boss, the characters for his new script were right in front of him.

Outside the diner, Yudin and his mother discussed the American Dream while they gazed upon a wealthy man feeding his Schnauzer and a homeless man huddled against a building.

“It was all something of a shock for me. Coincidentally, I had an English project for Miss Wallace’s [AS English III] class about the American Dream, so I wrote the story of those people I saw, filling in details, with a central theme of the death of the American Dream,” said Yudin. “It went through several rewrites, but eventually I had it.”

In 2015, a scene in “The Diner on Washington Street” won Best Original Directed and Written Piece at the 23rd annual Ohlone Theatre Festival.

“That’s when I knew I had to put it on,” said Yudin. Due to some mature content, which was included to keep the script realistic, “The Diner on Washington Street” could not be performed at Carlmont. “I found the Dragon Theatre in Redwood City. They gave me a contract, I raised money to pay them back, and now we’re here.”

Yudin has always been a writer, but he didn’t stumble across drama until 8th grade.

“I was having a bit of an existential crisis and I was walking down a road with no idea what to do with my life. Then a poster advertising auditions for ‘Willy Wonka Jr.’ hit me in the face,” said Yudin. “It was all too much like a movie for me to ignore, so I auditioned.”

Thus was Yudin’s interest in drama sparked. Eventually through trial and error, he realized writing scripts was his medium. He has completed three full-length scripts as of 2016.

As an aspiring writer, Yudin has had to make sacrifices along the way, and urges others in the drama department to accept and embrace such sacrifices.

“Nobody said this was going to be easy. If you think you can have straight A’s and be any good at what you do, you’re in for a shocker, or you’re a really smart person,” said Yudin. “But devote every fiber of your being to it so you can either be the very best you can be or figure out it’s not for you. The important thing is to not just dip your toe in it, but to dive in and devote yourself, because that devotion is the only thing that’ll keep you going in this field.”

“The Diner on Washington Street” is co-directed by Yudin’s fellow drama classmate, sophomore Miles Ray.

“[The idea] was that my technical comprehension of theatre combined with his vision would balance each other out well. Once we began to work, we realized that not only was this true, but we were able to work so well together  that we created a cast that loved, appreciated, and supported each other within the first two rehearsals,” said Ray.

Most of the actors in the cast are Carlmont students. Regardless of their drama background or connection to “The Diner on Washington Street,” every member is dedicated and passionate.

“One of our actors, Alex Gluzman, is a friend of my mom’s and hasn’t acted since his high school days in the Soviet Union. He saw one of my previous plays and was impressed, so he decided to keep tabs on Diner. Now he is playing the role of Sasha,” said Yudin.

Senior Annie Klups plays the major role of Ally, the overly-happy waitress.

“Denis is one of my best friends, so I’ve known about the play since he started writing it. I actually read and edited early drafts. From the first draft, I knew I wanted to act in it because of all the amazing characters,” said Klups.

Although rehearsing outside of school is a significant time commitment, Klups considers the experience worthwhile, as she expects it will prepare her for the real-world dynamics of the theatre major she wants to pursue.

“It’s been a good experience because the outside rehearsals mirror what I will be doing in the future. My character Ally has been a stretch for me acting-wise, which I love. The show is helping develop my acting skills a lot more,” said Klups.

Ray considers “The Diner on Washington Street” to be relatable now more than ever due to its theme of acceptance.

“Every character in this play has something that they are struggling to come to terms with. They all try to find some way to cope with it as well, but only some are capable of achieving acceptance by the end of the play,” said Ray. “Plays and other forms of literature are tied to the times in which they are created. The purpose of each piece is dependent upon the realities in which it exists.”

“The Diner on Washington Street” will be performed on April 22 and April 23 at 7:30 P.M at the Dragon Theatre in Redwood City.

Tickets can be purchased at dowsplay.wordpress.com for a price of $12 per student and $15 per adult. Due to the limited seating of the Dragon Theatre, it is recommended that audience arrive early or purchase tickets ahead of time.

For more information on tickets and donations, email [email protected]

 

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