SPOTSWOOD, NJ - On December 3 at 7 p.m. the Manhattan Theatre Club is hosting a special benefit performance, Old Friends, New Works. The performance features four-time Tony Award nominee Laura Linney, Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout, four-time Emmy winner Edie Falco, and Spotswood High School senior Emma Savarese.
Savarese will have a monologue she wrote performed by actor and Broadway star Joshua Boone. She wrote the monologue as a class assignment for her Spotswood High School Drama class.
"We work with Manhattan Theatre Club through the Theatrelink Program," Spotswood High School Drama and Communication Arts teacher Annie Raczko explained. "I got notified that a second monologue competition would be open to students and I jumped at the chance to make it an assignment. After submissions, I was notified that they selected Emma's to be a part of the event."
"Honestly, I'm still kind of in a state of shock that it was chosen for something so crazy huge," Savarese said. "There are all these famous actors and writers on the roster, next to small town, Emma Savarese. It's kind of a dream, but I'm so excited to be able to share it with my friends and family! Writing it meant a lot, and sharing it means even more."
The Old Friends, New Works benefit premiere's tonight at 7 p.m. on the Manhattan Theatre Club's YouTube channel. Viewers can catch Savarese's monologue from December 3 through December 7 online.
The Spotswood native has been performing with Spotswood High School's Drama Club the Troupers since freshman year and is currently enrolled in Raczko's Drama class. She's appeared in the school's productions of "Beauty and the Beast," "Once on This Island," and "James and the Giant Peach." Savarese is currently in the virtual audition process for a personal favorite,"The Wizard of Oz."
"I was floored," Raczko said when she found out Savarese's monologue was chosen to be featured on the Manhattan Theatre Club benefit. "I thought it was going to be a night of Broadway actors performing high school monologues. I had no idea she would be the only one. I'm not surprised though. Her work is high caliber. Emma is the ultimate professional as an actor and student."
In addition to being a member of Spotswood High School's drama program, Savarese is also an active participant in the school's music program. The teen plays mallet percussion, piano and guitar, performing with Spotswood High School's Concert Band, Pep Band, Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble and Honors Wind Ensemble. She is president of the school's Music Club and a member of the National Honor Society.
All the monologues entered needed to begin with the prompt, "You have no idea..."
"My monologue features this character I developed named Eno who's speaking to his significant other about the love he has, but finds himself unable to share," Savarese explained. "The monologue is supposed to take place all in a single moment as he stares into the other's eyes. It acts as an unspoken love letter, so I guess you could say the theme is really about the beauty of allowing yourself to stay in one place for a bit and share a moment with somebody you love."
"I think it's important to recognize with the world we live in now, where everything's kind of moving a mile a minute," she continued. "Sometimes you have to sit back and just show someone that you care about them, and let the rest of the world wash away around you."
"When I first read that phrase, 'you have no idea,'" Savarese added. "I immediately knew that I wanted to write something sappy because I'm kind of a sappy person at heart. However, I simultaneously told myself that I wanted it to be unorthodox, so the character who's saying the monologue isn't someone who allows himself to be sappy. He's a logical person without a lot of romantic tendencies; telling someone that he loves them in a single moment without saying a single word. With everything that's going on, it's nice to remember that love and insecurity still exists despite everything and in chaos, we can find moments of peace and connection with other."
It's still early in the application process for college's, but Savarese's dream school is New York University. Her plan is to major in music composition and screenwriting. Being selected to have her monologue read in the Manhattan Theatre Club's December 3 benefit helped to determine the latter.
""I've always known I loved to write, but having my monologue selected solidified that I should definitely pursue it alongside music," Savarese said. "I hope one day that I can write something, a show, a movie, a game, that people will love as much as I loved writing it."
A big part of Savarese's motivation comes from her teacher.
"Mrs. Raczko is a big inspiration for me and for everyone else in the club," Savarese said. "Her belief in me has made me a better performer and person."
Savarese is also extremely proud to be representing a little suburban community in Central New Jersey.
"Something that makes me really happy is seeing the word Spotswood put to something so incredible," Savarese added. "I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to not only feel talented and proud, but to represent our town!"