Filmmaker from Peterborough inspired by Fill the Void

  • Lauren LeBritton used her home town of Peterborough as inspiration when writing and directing her short film “The Playhouse.” Courtesy PhotoS

  • Lauren LeBritton used her home town of Peterborough as inspiration when writing and directing her short film “The Playhouse.” Courtesy Photo

  • Lauren LeBritton used her home town of Peterborough as inspiration when writing and directing her short film “The Playhouse.” Courtesy Photo

  • Lauren LeBritton used her home town of Peterborough as inspiration when writing and directing her short film “The Playhouse.” Courtesy Photo

  • Lauren LeBritton used her home town of Peterborough as inspiration when writing and directing her short film “The Playhouse.” Courtesy Photo

  • Lauren LeBritton used her home town of Peterborough as inspiration when writing and directing her short film “The Playhouse.” Courtesyourtesy Photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/24/2019 12:16:27 PM

When given the opportunity to make a short film, college student Lauren LeBritton drew inspiration from her childhood as a theatre and choir kid growing up in Peterborough.

“I want people to see it, but I can’t release it yet,” LeBritton said in a recent phone interview. “It’s called ‘The Playhouse’ and it’s about theatre kids in high school, and their school doesn’t have the space or the money to provide the space for a program for them.”

The town offers the teens an old building to use. Soon after, however, the building is in danger of being bought and torn down. That’s when the shenanigans begin, she said.

“It’s a family film, it’s really cute. I’m really proud of it. It definitely reflects my upbringing in Peterborough,” LeBritton said. “It was heavily influenced around ‘Fill the Void’ – the arts center that needs to be built. That was my main influence when writing it. … I guess I wanted to make it more of a concrete story, about not having a proper place to perform because of lack of funding.”

Fill the Void is a grassroots group that formed around the idea that a performing arts center should be built at ConVal High School in Peterborough. While the school has the Lucy Hurlin Theater, that small theater was originally a lecture hall and has never quite met the needs of the theatre department at the high school. The proposed arts center would also create a space for the music department performances. Band and choral concerts are currently held in the high school’s gymnasium, which doesn’t have ideal acoustics or seating for concerts.

Last week Fill the Void announced the proposed arts center would be named after famed playwright and Thornton Wilder, best known for his play “Our Town.” An ambitious capital campaign to raise about $8 million from private donors to build the Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts is set to begin later this year. The arts center would serve the school’s needs for performance space as well as the community’s.

LeBritton was born in Marlow, but moved to Peterborough when she was three years old. After graduating from ConVal High School in 2016, LeBritton went onto Maharishi University of Management, a private university in Fairfield, Iowa.

“I decided to go to an untraditional college in a tiny, tiny town in Iowa – The Maharishi University of Management – it’s a very small school. The big thing is they teach you about meditation and incorporate it into the curriculum,” she said. “The school is designed to benefit your health physically and mentally.”

LeBritton said she was interested in pursuing music.

“I came here specifically cause I thought they had a music program but they just have a lot of music classes and a strong film program,” she said. “Film was my priority for the first two years. I found my creative niche.”

“The Playhouse” was made when funding became available to her film class to make a short film. Each member of the small, four student class wrote a short screenplay and LeBritton’s was picked.

“I wanted a film I could put into film festival and would represent the school and that they could use,” she said.

The class collaborated on the project, but because she was the screenwriter, LeBritton was also allowed to direct the film. Working behind the camera felt right, she said.

“We filmed it all in a month and it was the most stressful time of my life. It was like a 12-hour union work day, every day. ...The biggest issue was with editing it within a month. It was insane.”

The 21-year-old is currently shopping her 30-minute film around to various film festivals. Once it has run the film festival circuit she would like to bring it to the Monadnock Region and show the community, especially her mentors in the arts – Deborah Shakespeare Thurber, who runs Project Shakespeare in Jaffrey, and ConVal High School choir teacher Krystal Morin.

“I was always in theatre ever since it became available to me in middle school,” LeBritton said.

In her first middle school production she played Tweedle Dee in “Alice in Wonderland” with her best friend taking on the role of Tweedle Dum. As a teen, she got involved in the Jaffrey-based youth theatre program Project Shakespeare.

“My first two years in Project Shakespeare I did anything Deborah wanted me to do to and I just fell in love with Shakespeare,” LeBritton said. “Theatre was just a huge part of my life and I loved it and I loved stage acting, but I knew it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.”

Her last year of high school she took some time off the stage to work behind the scenes to learn about stage lighting and directing. Directing “The Playhouse” has solidified her interest in directing, though, she would like to try screen acting at some point, she said.

Morin’s chorus program at ConVal also had a huge effect on LeBritton.

“I loved choir so much and they don’t have a choir here (at Maharishi University of Management) and it makes my heart so sad. But in high school I was a part of every choir I could participate in,” LeBritton said.

While her college doesn’t have a choir it does have a recording studio, which LeBritton has learned how to use. Drawing on her years in choir she often layers her vocals when recording her songs, she said.

“Ms. Morin really developed my music and was a huge inspiration to me,” she said.

LeBritton considers herself a lyricist first, before a performer, and uses music to express herself and communicate, she said. In recording music, she uses a lot of acoustic instruments but also mixes in electronic elements.

“I don’t exactly know what the genre it is,” she said. “I like to call it alternative-grungey-folk.”

Her first single “The Ghost” is currently available on all major streaming platforms.

She plans to release her full self-produced album later this year.

When she graduates in the spring she plans to continue pursuing filmmaking and her music. She also has a film editing job lined up to pay the bills in the meantime.


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