Young playwright to feature show at big, Sydney festival

Playwright: Mikayla Hatjinikitas, 16, from Blakehurst High School with her old English teacher Bahia Malas (left) and head of the English department at the school Alexis Heron (right). Picture: Chris Lane

Playwright: Mikayla Hatjinikitas, 16, from Blakehurst High School with her old English teacher Bahia Malas (left) and head of the English department at the school Alexis Heron (right). Picture: Chris Lane

When Mikayla Hatjinikitas penned a creative-writing story for an English assignment in Year 10, little did she know where the story would take her.

Fast forward two years and Mikayla has adapted her story, Mary Twist, into a 10-minute play.

Her play has already won two awards and will now feature at a prestigious festival in Sydney next week.

Mikayla, 16, is the youngest playwright/director to ever be involved in Sydney’s Short and Sweet Festival, which is currently being staged at Marrickville’s Depot Theatre. The festival showcases 10-minute plays from all over Australia and overseas and has been running for 16 years.

“It still hasn’t completely settled in. To think this started out as a Year 10 short story and I have made so many friends through this whole process, it’s incredible,” Mikayla said.

Cast: The Mary Twist cast (pictured) has been hard at work preparing for the big show next week. Picture: Supplied

Cast: The Mary Twist cast (pictured) has been hard at work preparing for the big show next week. Picture: Supplied

The Blakehurst High School Year 12 student said she had always enjoyed writing stories and even kept a little, red book as a young child full of her writings.

“In Year 10, I was basically in Ms Malas’ class and I had to write a short story. There was so much more to the story but I had to cut it down for the test,” she said. 

She scored the highest mark in her class for her story, and the following year heard about the Arts Theatre Cronulla through a friend. Graham Yates, from Arts Theatre Cronulla, helped Mikayla turn her story into a play and the rest is history.

She won the people’s choice award at two competitions in the Sutherland Shire which qualified her for a place in the Short and Sweet Festival.

Her former teacher, Bahia Malas, said Mikayla was a special talent.

“I knew that the first time that I met her, that she was very creative. She got 18/20 for her creative-writing piece which was the top in the class.

“Creative writing is something that is very difficult for people to get high marks in, so she did very well.”

Mikayla’s play is all about a girl named Mary, whose father invents a time machine. Mary uses the time machine to avoid a perilous situation, with a potential husband, escaping to the present day.

The cast for the play includes Mikayla’s sister Paris Galanos as well as fellow actors Russell Kay, Mark Herisson, Indiana Rubin-Tasic, Damian Asher, and Izzy Hanly.

Mary Twist is among 12 short plays staged every night from Wednesday to Sunday next week at Depot Theatre. Tickets are available here.

The best eight plays from the entire festival, plus the winner of the people’s choice award, a wild card, and a judge’s choice will all take part in a final in March at the same venue in Marrickville. 

Mikayla thanked Charisse Graber from ACTiv Elite Performers, in Kogarah, for all her help with rehearsals in recent months.

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