When the Playwrights Project unveiled its 35th annual iteration of its Plays by Young Writers Festival, a familiar North County name popped up: Izzy Ster, a 16-year-old Carmel Valley resident and junior at Canyon Crest Academy.
“I was very excited and honored to have been selected,” says Ster of the inclusion of her dramatic play Like Father, Like Daughter, which was one of just four plays chosen from over 500 submissions as winners of the organization’s 18 and under California Young Playwrights contest. “I’m very grateful that the Playwrights Project offers such a unique opportunity for aspiring playwrights to have a play produced.”
Inspired by the titans of the art (Aaron Sorkin, Annie Baker, and Tony Kushner among others), Ster first caught the playwriting bug during her sophomore year at Canyon Crest. It was an interest that built on her passion for writing in general. “I read a lot when I was younger,” says Ster, pointing to a childhood filled with the prose of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the adventures of Harry Potter. “I realized that my dialogue in my short stories was always strong so I gave playwriting a shot. I fell in love with scripts instantly.”
Ster’s winning play, Like Father, Like Daughter, examines the evolution of a relationship between a father and daughter in the face of the latter’s transition into adulthood while also grappling with divorce. “I was inspired after a mundane visit to a gas station with my own father,” says Ster. “The entire play takes place in a similar setting.”
While Ster’s story isn’t based on a true story, she says she frequently draws from personal experience. “I think every writer does, whether or not it’s based on real events or people,” she explains. “Although I have not personally experienced divorced, I have experience with some of the (other) themes explored in this play.”
Aside from playwriting, Ster says she quells her “overactive imagination” with a litany of disparate extracurricular writing activities outside of school. Not only is she an editor for Canyon Crest’s literary magazine Plutonian Shore and a staff writer and online editor for the school’s newsmagazine Pulse, but she’s also the president of the CCA Book Club and a 2018 award winner in Dramatic Writing at the Scholastic Art & Writing awards.
As if her resume wasn’t packed enough, Ster also participates in the school’s Envision Conservatory for the Humanities, where she’s a writer for Spirit Skies, a four-part graphic novel regarding environmental stewardship, which involved both a trip to Panama City, Panama and two panels at Comic-Con.
Soon though, her focus will be mounting Like Father, Like Daughter for the first time when it’s performed for the public at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Joan B. Kroc Theatre in San Diego. It’s an opportunity she’s ready to savor.
“We did a table reading a few months ago and it was incredibly surreal to hear actors read my words and helpful for the editing process,” she says. “I still can’t believe that my play will be performed in front of people other than my parents. I’m extremely excited, and perhaps a bit apprehensive, for the performance.”
For more information, visit www.playwrightsproject.org.