The initial idea for senior Niki Acton “The Lost Girls” came from Acton’s experience at a workshop with other playwrights. After throwing out names and occupations, the group presented a low-key musical focused on a woman turning into a cat. However, Acton felt like one of the leftover scenarios had more potential for a future narrative.
“One we didn’t end up using was Violet who was a cobbler, and I liked Violet the Cobbler. So, I sort of ran with that,” she said.
“The Lost Girls” was born out of Acton’s interest in children without mothers. In the play, two older sisters, Violet and Natalie, have to assume the roles of caretakers for their orphaned niece. Although Acton maintained that the heart of the story has always been centered around main characters Violet and Kate’s relationship, several characters have been added and cut.
“Initially, Owen was a character added in, but the story became really depressing because Owen was really depressing, and the Lost Girls were very angry Ñ it was just a mess,” Acton explained. Over the course of the writing process, Acton added comic relief and changed characters’ genders.
The transition from private writing into a shared production is what Acton loved most during the formation of “The Lost Girls.” She noted that she never would have created the production on her own if it weren’t for her team members. To Acton, working together is what makes the process and performance more satisfying.
“When we’re on the stage and the audience is clapping, it’s a really communal feeling, like, ‘we did this’, which I think is beautiful and powerful,” Acton said.
For now, Acton believes the play is mostly finished. “Other than itty-bitty revisions, I think I’m ready to move on,” she said.
Acton would like to begin submitting to theaters and festivals in Chicago, as she desires the opportunity to gain experience from working on a non-educational production.
Post Knox, Acton sees herself working within smaller theaters. She said that the chances of any involvement in Broadway are slim to none. “I think it’s really commercial, which gets in the way of the art,” Acton said.
As she enters theatre as a whole, she wants to challenge the class divisions in theatre and how inaccessible it is to low-income admirers of art. “People with money see theatre and people who don’t have money don’t see theatre. So, that gets in the way of what we’re trying to do with theatre, which is speak to people and change the world. You can’t change the world if only the privileged are seeing your art,” she said.