“All the world’s a stage…” but what about those who work behind the scenes? After lots of hard work, twelfth-grader Spencer Opal-Levine won numerous awards for his play, “Flying Solo With IBD,” including the Kennedy Center’s VSA Playwright Discovery, Florida Studio Theatre’s 2020 Young Playwrights Festival, and Theatre Odyssey’s Best Play for the 2021 Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival.
The play reflects on Opal-Levine’s own experiences with Irritable Bowel Disease, IBD. The premise of the play surrounded a student flying unaccompanied to Washington D.C. who had to address a health crisis with his gastrointestinal disorder while on the airplane. Opal-Levine worked with Theatre Odyssey to bring his play to life through radio due to COVID-19.
“I really enjoyed the small theater that I worked with. I’ve won there multiple times,” he said. “They’re really nice, great people, they kept some of my props from my previous play, which was really nice and unexpected. I just really enjoyed working with them. I think that was fun.”
In the process of making the radio play, Opal-Levine worked with TV Production teacher, Mark Goebel. Goebel assisted with the editing process and helped put together the final product.
“He taught me about cutting audio, so that was helpful for the radio play and just some script formatting. I enjoyed that class, they needed someone who was relatively involved in something similar to that, he does PVTV… and he helped with the formatting a little bit, teaching me how to do that on top of what I already knew,” Opal-Levine said.
Starting in first grade, Opal-Levine has won awards throughout his playwriting career. Last year, he was the runner up for Theater Odyssey’s 2020 Student Ten-Minute Playwriting Festival with “The Drill” a play based on a school’s response to a shooting. He also was the youngest recipient ever of The Blank Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival in Hollywood, California.
Opal-Levine’s friend, Lucian Bathgate, has known him for 12 years, before he started his playwriting career.
“I believe I have seen three or four of Spencer’s plays. We definitely had attended a couple recent contests that he’s entered. My favorite so far has been the “The Quadrennial Bet,” where a bunch of dead presidents meet, talk, and tell jokes,” Bathgate said.
For Opal-Levine, playwriting is a hobby, not a job.
“It’s something I do just for fun,” he said. “I was exposed to it when I was younger. I just thought it was a fun format to de-stress and write.”
Currently, Opal Levine’s “Flying Solo with IBD” is going to debut in Washington D.C., but has been postponed due to COVID-19.