Promising Playwright March 2008
"It’s really hard for a person to realize the truly precious things in life as they are living it. Sometimes it is not until you’re about to lose everything, not until that moment when it all becomes clear," says Engedasew Menkir. He is speaking of a key moment from his play Puzzle.
As a student who immigrated from Adis Ababa, Ethiopia only three years ago Enge has had the opportunity to consider what really matters from multiple perspectives. He is currently a student in the 11th grade at Bell Multicultural High School.
"Washington is different than I thought it would be. Once I knew more about the issues that were going on in America I found it surprising," he says.
For example, Enge says that he identified teenage pregnancy as a problem in Ethiopia but in the United States "it is off the charts."
"In Ethiopia I knew everyone in my community. If something happened ten or fifteen blocks away we would be there because we knew those people. Here I live in an apartment building and I do not even know my neighbors," Enge laments.
Moving to the US led Enge to focus more on his studies. "When I got here I realized that if I can do the task I’ve been assigned, then I can be the person I want to be," Enge says. He adds, "I never thought in a million years when I was living in Ethiopia that I could write a nineteen page play, in English!! But I allowed myself to do it. I believed in myself."
Enge’s play Puzzle is a sophisticated tale of a CIA agent in the days leading up to September 11th, 2001. The main character struggles to manage the demands of his country with his role as a father and a husband. "I’m a very big fan of 24," Enge admits. The pacing and detail of his play reveal his close study of that television show. "I love films," Enge says, "but I do think that Hollywood culture has a bad affect on kids."
Enge hopes to attend George Mason University and settle one day in Sweden or Ethiopia to have a family. His play Puzzle will be featured at next Friday’sNew Play Festival.