When Phillip Magin observed animosity and disagreements among political parties in the recent election, he was inspired to try to make the groups come together through art.
The 18-year-old Del Mar playwright, who graduates from Canyon Crest Academy this month, will present a self-written and self-produced play called “fulcrum” at the San Diego International Fringe Festival that reflects the current political atmosphere through the eyes of students and adults at a North County High School.
Magin said in summer 2015, when he developed an interest in politics, he noticed more arguments between people regarding politics. This was unfamiliar to the teen.
“I saw that there was a lot of division that I had never really seen before between the two parties,” said Magin, who will attend San Diego State University in the fall for theater. “Growing up, I always saw them as two parties with some differences but they didn’t clash as much. In today’s world, Republicans and Democrats are very against each other, and there’s a lot of clashing. A big thing I’m trying to do with this play is show we might be on different teams but we all have the same goals.”
The coming-of-age satire — which runs June 22, June 23, June 25, June 28 and July 1 — takes place during Fall 2016 when President Donald Trump was getting elected.
In the hour-long, PG-13 production, a high school is placed on a lockdown for unknown reasons, and students and adults “clash politically and face political prejudice and rumors,” Magin said.
“It’s creating a sense of mystery and paranoia about why this happened,” he explained. “The lockdown is an allegory for Trump getting elected president because it shakes up a lot of people and causes a lot of people to panic. There are certain characters who are very anti-Trump and there are others who are pro-Trump. There’s a lot of clashing and division.”
Magin, who has written, directed and produced five productions, applied to be in the Fringe Festival even before finishing the script in February.
It is his second time showing a work of his own in the festival and his fourth time participating overall.
“I knew I had the crutch of the idea for it and I just went for it,” he said.
The cast is made up of students from CCA, as well as other local high schools and colleges.
Even though he considers himself to have liberal views, Magin said proponents from both sides can sympathize and relate to the characters, as different viewpoints are shown.
He showed the play to an audience at CCA that had various political opinions, and everyone appeared to enjoy it, he said.
“I wanted to show the two different sides of people because I didn’t want to single one party out,” Magin said. “I have different characters with their different beliefs, and I show those beliefs over the course of the play.”
Magin — who got to vote for the first time in November — said he believes his young viewpoint helps the show. “This is the world I’m coming into as an adult just getting out of high school,” he said. “There’s just this tension in the country, and I hope as the years go on and I get older, some things change and people are able to reconcile with each other.”
Performances are June 22 at 6 p.m., June 23 at 9 p.m., June 25 at 4 p.m., June 28 at 7:30 p.m. and July 1 at 4 p.m. Shows will take place in the Lyceum Space Theatre in downtown San Diego, which holds 250 seats. Tickets cost $10 each plus a one-time $5 Fringe Tag purchase to support the continuation of the festival.