MacMaster’s play is “As good as it gets”


Photo credit: Christina Shea

SHOWING SUPPORT | Ronan MacMaster stands outside of the theater after his play was performed at Michigan State University and attended by his AP Literature and Composition class, chaperoned by his teacher Jillian McDonald. “It was very mature for a highschool student,” McDonald said. “It was really cool to see it come to life on stage.”

By Christina Shea and Lauren Kaled

Upwards of 1,000 students submitted their written plays to Michigan State University’s 27th Annual Young Playwrights Festival which provides applicants with the opportunity to have their play produced by Michigan State Universities’ theater students. It all whittled down to 6 finalists, one of which was senior Ronan MacMaster for his one-act play “As Good as it Gets.” 

After finding the contest on Michigan State’s website, Ronan MacMaster began the play writing process throughout the summer. The experience of seeing new places sparked ideas which he would then write down on his phone. 

“I thought about the idea all summer and so I had a notes app, a folder on my phone, where I just wrote ideas whenever I thought of them,” Ronan MacMaster said. “It all came together in the fall when I put all the pieces together and actually decided to write everything down.”  

Choosing to apply to this writing based contest is not out of character for Ronan MacMaster. Even as a child, he expressed an interest in writing, asking his father, Gordon MacMaster, questions about how to express his ideas. The Young Playwrights Festival was his first attempt at making his interest a reality. 

“Ronan has always been interested in writing,” Gordon MacMaster said. “The creative writing appeared more in his high school days. Writing a play was definitely a new endeavor for him this year.” 

Ronan MacMaster’s talent did not go unnoticed by his AP English Literature and Composition teacher, Jillian McDonald. She sees his masterful writing skills shine through in his work, even when not doing creative writing.

“I think he is naturally gifted as a writer,” McDonald said. “I think it’s something that comes very easily to him and I think it’s a way for him to express himself in a creative and productive way.” 

Stemming from writing, Ronan MacMaster also loves reading. His role model is Arthur Miller, playwright of “Death of a Salesman,” a major inspiration for the play. “As Good as it Gets” follows the premise of a lonely man named Will who must choose between continuing on with his boring life, or living the last year of his life with the guaranteed “Best Year of his Life.”

“I think [my play] sort of follows someone who has lived a dead end job, and was trying to find meaning within their own life,” Ronan MacMaster said. “They are looking at this decision on whether or not they can maximize their life.” 

Just like McDonald, Ronan’s classmates are also supportive of his play. When “As Good as it Gets” was performed at Michigan State University, Ronan MacMaster’s fellow AP English Literature and Composition students went on a field trip to the campus to watch his performance.

“It was really cool to be able to take his classmates there and see him have all of that support,” McDonald said. “I think they were really moved by the play and some of the ways that Ronan brought his personal life into the play.” 

Besides allowing him to be creative, Ronan MacMaster also enjoys the many branches of people you can meet while being a writer. He plans to keep going forward with his writing career and study English at Michigan State University. 

“I think it’s a good outlet for talking about yourself and connecting to other people,” Ronan MacMaster said.