From class assignment to CincyFringe play, Highlands sophomore finds her voice

The play deals with childhood schizophrenia

FT. THOMAS, KY.—Like others in her playwriting class at Highlands High School, sophomore Kaiya Linkugel thought of it merely as an assignment: Write a 10-minute play.

“I just kept writing and writing,” she said. “I had no idea it would turn into this big play.”

At the urging of the school’s drama teacher, Linkugel entered her play into the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Several other classmates did the same, but only Linkugel’s was chosen. Her play, “Names,” is one of four in the festival’s FringeNext slate, devoted to shows written, produced and performed entirely by high schoolers.

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival, in its 11th year, is a smorgasbord of theater performances staged in multiple venues in Over-The-Rhine that runs through June 7. 

“Names” premieres at 7 p.m. Thurs., May 29, with other performances at 6:30 p.m. May 30 and 2:30 p.m. May 31, all at the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Other FringeNext shows are coming from students at St. Xavier High School, Newport Central Catholic High School and the School for Creative and Performing Arts. Complete Fringe Festival schedules are available online at the Fringe’s web site .

“The whole thing was a huge accident. I really didn’t think my play was that good,” Linkugel said. “I didn’t think it was very original, but (Burgess) said ‘Nothing’s original anymore. What you put into it makes it original.’”

Linkugel’s play deals with childhood schizophrenia through the mind of a pre-teen girl, whose mind conjures a range of friends and not-friends who help her cope with her parents’ fractured marriage. Linkugel, who is directing the production, auditioned about two dozen schoolmates and cast 10 of them, enlisting a couple more to work behind the scenes. Half the proceeds from the Fringe box office go to Linkugel, who plans to divide her take among all involved.

Through theater, in general, and by developing “Names” into a Fringe production, Linkugel said she’s evolved from soft-spoken into a natural leader.

“You don’t want to be mean or bossy, but my friends know this is a show—it’s not friendship time,” she said. “I tend to be a very scatterbrained person, so I’m feeling a lot of emotions at once right now. But I get to see this thing I’ve only seen in my mind come to life in the Fringe, and that’s just an amazing feeling.”


What: 11th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival

Where: 11 locales in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati

When: Wed., May 28 through Sat., June 7

Cost: $12 individual shows, $25 for an evening, $60 for six-show passes and $200 for all-access festival pass .

Info: or (513) 300-5669

Follow them: On Twitter @CincyFringe  and on Facebook

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