Roslyn HS grad wins plaudits and prizes for theater work

Roslyn HS grad wins plaudits and prizes for theater work
Andrew Defrin. The recent Roslyn High School alum will start studying theatre directing at Fordham University in the fall. (Photo courtesy of Roslyn Public Schools)

Every spectacular play needs a mastermind behind it.

The director designs every aspect of a performance as a visionary and unifying force. They must carefully decide everything from the actor’s performances to the environment and design choices.

This work enthralls Andrew Defrin, a recent graduate of Roslyn High School. When he was 3 years old, he had his first taste of live theater, which ignited a lifelong passion.

“The audience really suspends their disbelief when they walk into a theater which means you can get as minimalistic as possible and you can do things through symbolism or literally,” he said. “There are so many ways to do theater and so many types and that’s what makes it so interesting.”

At the Long Island High School for the Arts, Defrin also took classes in production and managerial arts. He was presented with the George Farber Award and the Newsday 2021 Scholar-Artist Award there.

Defrin also directed “The COVID Monologues.” The high school production won Best Ensemble, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing, Audience Choice Award and Best Play at the New York State Thespian Festival.

He will enroll at Fordham University in the fall to pursue a directing degree in their theatre program.

The production aspect of performing has always fascinated him. But as he started high school, his desire to be a director grew greater.

“My dad’s an antique dealer, so there are a lot of cardboard boxes around my house. So I used said cardboard to recreate sets in my living room,” said Defrin. “I still do that to this day, to be honest.”

In an independent study, Scott Segal, an English teacher at Roslyn High School, guided Defrin as he wrote “Creatures.”

The five-minute, seven-page play took first place in the 2021 Student Playwriting Competition held by the New York State Theatre Education Association. Segal said that Defrin’s passion is clear in his work.

“He studies directing, he studies lighting, he studies stage set production. He’s completely immersed in theater arts,” he said. “It just makes him a much better theater writer. That’s something that I didn’t have to teach him.”

Defrin refers to these as the “moments.” He said it can be a shift in lighting, the timing of music or any other small but well-thought-out change.

“I think in theater, anybody has the power to create their own version of that ‘moment,’” he said. “And there are limitless possibilities because certain things can be done in so many ways.”

While he was writing “Creatures,” he was also working on his finest work to date: “The Guest.”

The five-person, one-act play debuted on the stage at Roslyn High School on June 3. The story revolves around a family’s Thanksgiving dinner with an unexpected visitor.

“We found out we were able to produce [‘The Guest’] the following year, which we just did on June 3,” said Defrin. “I was director of that and since I wrote it, it was fun to get to know my ‌piece more than I thought I ever could.”

Segal said that part of his job with Defrin involved making occasional suggestions. But he said ‌he could ‌usually take a backseat.

“I must have felt like Charles Dickens’ editor, where once a week, I was just getting more and more good stuff,” he said. “We’ve had some names go through here as far as theater, but we’ve never had anybody as prolific as Andrew.”

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