One Conway High School junior is making her second directing debut with her play "Across the Pond" Thursday at the CHS James H. Clark Auditorium.
Jessica Reddig, who wrote and will direct the play, said "Across the Pond" is about a teenager named Marley who begins writing and posting stories online, which make their way to Noah, a teenager living in London, England, who becomes a fan. Through their interactions, the two develop a relationship and eventually start wading through struggles in life, including family issues, toogether.
Reddig said the play started developing during her ninth and 10th grade years.
"It kind of came out of nowhere," she said.
Nearly four months after initially imagining the story line, Reddig said the 66 pages were finalized after an editing process.
This is not Reddig’s first experience in bringing a story to life. In 2015, she displayed her writing and directing abilities in "Neighbors: A World War II journey" about a Nazi and his family, who disagreed with his job, living in Germany.
She said there are many differences between the two, but "Across the Pond" is bigger scale, with larger costume-change requirements throughout the story.
Reddig said she started doing theater when she was 9 years old and began working with Blackbird Academy of the Arts where she learned how to write monologues, scripts and more.
"That’s where it originally started," she said.
Reddig said the process has become easy for her, just because she’s been around theater for so long. She said several elements of the play were not imagined, but pulled from real life situations that she has been exposed to, including family moments and circumstances.
"It just kind of flowed into that," she said.
Reddig said the whole creative process — from writing and developing the play to auditioning actors and building sets — counts as her favorite part.
"Just seeing all that form into this huge story that I wrote has been fantastic," she said.
Reddig said the play takes place over the span of a year and every scene will be a different month requiring 48 costume changes throughout.
"Getting everything timed perfectly and getting everyone on stage when they’re supposed to has been the real challenge," she said.
Overall, Reddig said everyone, including herself, is ready and excited to bring her work to life on opening night.
"It’s just a thrilling experience to see so many people enjoy it just as much as you do," she said. "Everything is coming along great."
Reddig said she hopes the hard work and time put into developing the play is evident to the audience and the theme of the play, perseverance despite obstacles, is understood.
"I would like them to know that there’s so many challenges that come up in life and so many things that happen, [but] if you have an end goal, you can reach out," she said. "I’m really nervous, but I’m also very excited about this."
AJ Spiridigliozzi, CHS theater teacher, said he was really impressed with Reddig.
"I think the story is unique," he said. "It’s interesting. Jessica is very ambitious. She has done a lot for someone her age. I’m just really impressed at how organized she is [and] how creative she is."
Spiridigliozzi said Reddig has worked well with everyone and has been respectful toward everyone involved. He said everyone has worked hard.
"They’re just so passionate and they’re amazing to see," he said. "I’m very impressed. I haven’t heard an argument out of them. They’re all just really good people."
Opening night for the play is Thursday at 7 p.m. It will be performed again on Friday and is free and open to the public.