High school senior and Ella Lee Forest resident Sierra Butterwick is experiencing a lot of firsts.
She’s graduating this week from Heights High School and a play she wrote, called “The Vines,” was one of three selected from the Greater Houston area by Dirt Dogs Theater Company to perform at MATCH-Midtown Arts and Theater Center, 3400 Main St., on June 5. The honor comes with a $500 scholarship.
Butterwick said she has been interested in theater since she was at Oak Forest Elementary and participated in Odyssey of the Mind, where she had the opportunity to work with her team to write and produce plays for the competition. She later attended Frank Black Middle School.
“I started to take theater more seriously when in seventh grade, FBMS got a theater teacher,” Butterwick said. “I took the theater class for the rest of my middle school experience and in my eighth-grade year I did (University Interscholastic League competition) with my theater troupe.”
At Heights, Butterwick continued to perform within the UIL and also took advanced theater classes and participated in musicals and variety shows.
It was her current high school theater teacher, Susannah Stengal, who had her advanced theater class write plays and submit them to Dirt Dog.
“Ms. Stengal not only gave me the motivation to write ‘The Vines,’ but also has empowered me as a young woman and reminds me that no matter what anyone says, I can do anything,” Butterwick said.
“The Vines” is set in the midst of the apocalypse. The play is a flashback from a teenage boy, Maverick, who is remembering his last moments with his family before things spiraled downward.
“My inspiration for the play was the mental toll that loneliness takes on a person’s mind,” Butterwick said. “I also took inspiration from the reality that you never know when your last moments with someone are.”
As part of the process, Butterwick worked with a play director, Ananka Kohnitz, and a mentor, Doug Williams.
“They both have been very patient and have slowly walked me through how getting your play produced really works,” Butterwick said. “They let me take the lead to make sure the play is what I envisioned (and) helped me through the rewriting process as well as the production of the play itself. It was an amazing experience to do a read through and meet the entire cast and learn all about the production process.”
Butterwick also was involved in cheerleading, softball and the news network at Heights. Outside of school, she’s been part of a performance-based music school called “School of Rock” in which she has participated in themed concerts, including those honoring female rock musicians as well as classic rock bands such as Aerosmith and Van Halen.
The Renaissance woman plans to attend Texas A&M University at Galveston in the fall. Butterwick’s plan is to study marine biology as well as ocean and coastal resources in order to help the world battle climate change – and to save animals like sea turtles from extinction.
“I want to focus on conservation and preservation through communications and media and perhaps environmental law,” Butterwick said. “I will continue to focus on my passion for writing, film making and my love of music.”
For more information about attending “The Vines,” visit http://www.dirtdogstheatre.org/.