by Sandra Fenichel Asher

Sandra Fenichel Asher developed four new plays at Highland High School and one at Utah Valley University.  All five have gone onto publication, with one winning the Distinguished Play Award from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.  Newman directed three of the five plays while In the Garden of the Selfish Giant was directed by Tiffany Rowland Morris at Highland and The Princess and the Goblin  was directed by Nannette Watts with UVU.  Follow the links to entries for each of these plays on the Dramatic Publishing website.

When she started working with Highland, Asher was living in Missouri where she was a writer in residence at Drury University.  She now lives in Pennsylvania.

Photo EINE Cover Photo P&G Cover Photo WWR Cover

The actors in the cover photos on the scripts were students in the productions at Highland High and Utah Valley University.


Set in the year 2129, this futuristic retelling of the Joan of Ark legend focuses on a young data processor, existing alone in her life/work station, who is summoned by Catherine, the woman who once nurtured her and is now hiding, and Michael, the blind prophet who leads the exiled rebels in the wilderness.  Joan dares to confront Charles, one of a triumvirate of leaders of her world who is rendered powerless by the dominating Mother Petra.  Joan joins the rebels and is ultimately forced to choose between renouncing her mission and escaping martyrdom.  The play was developed and premiered at Highland High School with the support of a 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Spirit Grant and was subsequently produced by Middleton High School in Wisconsin under the direction of Lynda Sharpe.



Five middle school students decide to learn more about war veterans.  Their interviews include a grandmother who was a veteran of the “home front” in World War II, a patient in a veterans’ hospital who served during the Korean War, an uncle who endure the war and the “war against the war” in Vietnam, and a female mid-shipman whose mother was called up for the first Gulf War.  This documentary drama was originally commissioned by Pine-Richland Middle School in Pennsylvania in response to the students’ desire to learn more about war veterans.  The world premiere of the resulting script, adapted by Asher from the students’ interview transcriptions, was directed by Wayne Brinda at Prime Stages in Pittsburgh.  The second production was directed by Newman at Highland High School.

Photo WWR Erin NataliePhoto WWR Soldier


Eleven-year-old Maggie Campbell and Susan, her mother, have come to Susan’s childhood home to be with Maggie’s dying grandmother in her
final days. Maggie has never known this cantankerous grandmother, who is never seen in the play.  Maggie resents having to cancel her summer plans to accompany her mother and, as the play opens, Maggie has climbed a tree in her grandmother’s long-unkempt garden and settled into what she thinks will be an unyielding sulk to spite her mother for the inconvenience. But into the garden come Allison and Brianna: one, a funny, warm and  insightful Hospice worker; the other, an imaginative nine-year-old  neighbor who hates unhappy endings and never lets the facts stand in the way of a good story, not even her rollicking rendition of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale about “The Selfish Giant”�a frightening and forbidding character who reminds her of Maggie’s grandmother.  The play was presented as a finalist at the Bonderman Youth Playwriting Symposium in Indianapolis with its first production with Good Company in Springfield, Illinois and its second production at Highland High School, directed by Tiffany Rowland Morris.  It went on to receive the AATE Distinguished Play Award.



It’s the summer before Michael’s senior year and his life is all mapped out for him:  winters in the suburbs, summers at the beach, the “right” major in college, and a career in his father’s business.  But Michael never charted this course; his father did.  At l7, eager to discover the
“real world” beyond his parents’ protection, Michael lands a job as busboy at the Jolly Mackerel restaurant in Braden’s Port, a resort town where he, his family, and his friends have long been “summer people”—well-to-do vacationers.  At the restaurant, Michael meets Linda,
a local “winter person” who is determined to make her way to New York and a career in fashion design.  Michael admires her commitment and
independence, and for the first time in his life begins to make some of his own decisions about his future.  The play had its world premiere at Highland High School under the direction of John Dilworth Newman, who also played the role of Mr. MacElroy.



Lonely Princess Irene discovers a strange, new stairway and follows it up to the Mysterious Lady, who will help her make the connections she craves.  Nearby, the young miner Curdie explores suspicious underground doings among the goblin.  As Irene dares to climb higher and Curdie dares to dig deeper, their paths meet in surprising ways.  The play was first produced at the Open Eye Theater in Margaretville, New York.  It was then produced as an elementary school touring show as a collaboration between the UVU Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth and Resonance Story Theatre under the direction of Nannette Watts.


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