CCHS graduate’s play premieres in New York

THE BIG STAGE-Local playwright Harrison Young (center in black and  yellow) is pictured here with the cast of his play that premiered in New York. (photo courtesy www.facebook.com/OnlineFighting)

THE BIG STAGE-Local playwright Harrison Young (center in black and yellow) is pictured here with the cast of his play that premiered in New York. (photo courtesy www.facebook.com/OnlineFighting)

NEW YORK CITY (NY)-A playwright from Celina, TN has written a play that recently premiered in the Big Apple.

Harrison Young, a 2004 graduate of Clay County High School and the son of local mail-carrier and county commissioner Winton Young and his wife Casey, has made it to the big stage in New York City with his work called “Online Fighting.”

The play debuted on July 1 at the People’s Improv Theatre in Manhattan, but this was not Young’s first showing.  He wrote the work while in school at the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville–where he received his degree in theatre in 2009, and it has been produced six times since 2008.

“I moved to Brooklyn (NY) last July and the first play I wrote got its New York City debut exactly a year later,” Young explained.  “I made the move in hopes of working in theatre and stand-up, taking lessons learned from high school with me–that’s right, from Ms. Melissa White’s class.

“I caught a break up here and I encourage those interested in theatre to find a way to get involved, even if it’s in your own room, because we used to make home videos of us playing improv between playing sports and video games.

“It was a blast, and now it’s led to this.”

Young’s success was also featured in a story by Betsy Pickle on Knoxnews.com.

Pickle wrote of Young’s Clay County roots.

“Young, who concentrated primarily on football before discovering a love of theater his high school junior year, wasn’t voted Funniest or Most Dramatic in the senior superlatives,” Pickle explained.

“I was actually Most School Spirited,” he told her in a telephone interview. “I was the guy on the team who would not shut up. We were the Clay County Bulldogs, so when I wasn’t on the field, I would be barking from the sidelines as much as I could.

“I’m pretty sure the other teams and maybe even some of my teammates were not happy with me by the end of it.”

“At UT, Young minored in theatre while exploring other majors but finally made theatre top choice,” Pickle explained in the online story.  “From 2006 until he left Knoxville last June 30, he appeared in more than 80 theatre, film and comedy productions, including some of the Tennessee Stage Company’s (TSC) Shakespeare on the Square shows.

Pickle said TSC Artistic Director Tom Parkhill saw the first incarnation of “Online Fighting,” which was a scene Young wrote for a noncredit playwriting workshop taught by Kali Meister.

“He enjoyed the scene, and he asked me if there would be a way I could perhaps expand on the idea, to make it something that might be eligible for the New Play Festival, but also because he saw that it had potential to continue,” Pickle quoted Young saying.

She also said Young was grateful to Meister, Parkhill and director Vania Smrkovski for challenging and championing him on his journey.

“Vania showed not only that it was able to work as it was, but he also brought in his own ideas about how to make the stage combat more unique in the second act,” Young told her.

Young told Pickle he thinks audiences will enjoy the fight scenes and the videogame characters, or avatars.

“They’re fun and they’re simple and they’re easy to relate to or at least get,” he explained to her. “They’re their own jokes, and yet they’re also a crucial part of the story.”

Young described “Online Fighting” as an action-comedy about two video gamers rekindling a feud.

“What starts off as fun and games online in Super Duper Smash Fighters quickly becomes a battle of jealousy and redemption offline in the real world,” Young explained.  “Especially once mothers and girlfriends are involved.

“Realism, absurdity, and stage-combat blend together for a story gamers and non-gamers enjoy together.”

Young said the cast’s backgrounds vary from graduates from Texas Woman’s University to British American Drama Academy, but also explained his roots are never far away as three other Tennesseans are working on the show and Celina native Blake Thompson put his creative touch on the play with new artwork.

For more information about the play, visit “Online Fighting” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OnlineFighting or on twitter at twitter.com/OnlineFighting.