Fantastically Fabulous Feature: Meet the mastermind behind “The Heist”


Amber Schnupp, Staff Writer

In all of the years Bethel Park has put on a fall play, never before has the whole play been written from scratch by a teacher!
Meet Mrs. Williams! Mrs. Williams is an English teacher here in the high school and she’s the creative genius behind the play. She wrote the BPHS fall play this year, “The Heist.”
“The Heist” is a play about the nation’s first ever armored car robbery which took place right here in Bethel! The play features fictional characters set in the middle of the actual event.
I asked Mrs. Williams some questions to try and get to know her and the play better.
How did you find out about the robbery in the first place?
I initially read about the robbery in Rick Sebak’s back page article in The Pittsburgh Magazine several years ago.
What about it interested you?
The idea for the play was my mother’s idea. A reporter for the Post-Gazette, Brian O’Neil, wrote an article about the robbery this past March for the 90th anniversary of the event. My mother read the article and suggested writing the play because it provided an opportunity to tie in the Bethel Park Community and a unique part of Bethel Park’s history in the plot of the play.
What inspired you to write a play based on this event?
I felt that my mother was correct; the play was an opportunity to create student and community interest in Bethel Park’s unique history.
How long did it take you to write it?
It took me five weeks of writing for 10 hours a day.
Who helped you write the show this year?
I give credit to my husband as my dramaturg, someone who helps to give feedback as a play or other theatrical work is being developed. He never wants to know what happens in the whole play, but he provides excellent feedback when I am considering different plot or scene ideas.
What is your writing process?
I develop a basic outline of the events of the plot, and then, to compose the dialogue and develop the characters, I start to ask myself why a certain character would react in a specific way or make a particular comment.
Where did you come up with the characters you made for the play?
I asked the question: What might cause someone who had never committed a criminal act to make the poor decision to become involved in a robbery? Once I came up with a central character, George Davis, I started to come up with characters who might be a part of this person’s life, his family, his friends, and other people he may know, who would influence his decision whether or not he would take part in this robbery.
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