Hell, cults, hauntings.

These are the topics of three plays recent Dublin Jerome High School graduate Kara Fedurek wrote during her high school career.

Rather than turning away from scary subjects, Fedurek shines a light on them, injecting them with comedy.

The 18-year-old said that's just how she copes with any negatives in her life -- by taking a dark topic and making "a complete joke out of it."

"I always really liked dark comedies," Fedurek said.

Fedurek, a member of the Celtics class of 2020. is heading to Ohio University to major in journalism but has been writing since the eighth grade.

Her foray into playwriting began in high school and culminated in two high school productions and two 10-minute plays for the downtown Columbus theater, MadLab.

Fedurek's introduction to writing occurred in the fifth grade, when she and her friends would write stories during English class. She said she lost some interest after that, but when she was in seventh grade, her father, Geoff Fedurek, encouraged her to give writing another shot. He thought she might write a short story, maybe four or five pages.

"She ended up writing a 60-page mini novel," he said. "From the first page, it brought you in. She has this cool talent, and it's going to be fun to see how far she takes it."

Following her dad's encouragement, Fedurek said, she started writing a lot more. Fiction was her forte, and she tried her hand at writing novels.

Once in high school, Fedurek began exploring the world of playwriting. And now that she was writing for an audience, she focused on comedy.

"I like making people happier," she said.

As a sophomore in 2018, her theater teacher, Patricia Scott, emailed the drama club about a playwriting competition by MadLab. Fedurek recalled thinking, "It can't be that hard."

She didn't win that competition, but she enjoyed writing the play and wanted to continue working on it. After quite a bit of editing, she submitted it to an Ohio Thespian Conference contest later that year and received the second-highest score.

The premise for "Budget Cuts: A Play in Hell," is this: What if the devil ran hell like a business and, coming up against financial problems, he's forced to fire the seven deadly sins?

The production was performed in winter 2019 at her high school, with Fedurek directing and choosing the cast.

"It was like the best feeling ever. It was so cool," she said.

Fedurek said she especially enjoyed seeing the audience react to her jokes.

Scott, who is Jerome's drama director, said she had met Fedurek as a freshman, when the student had a short, nonspeaking part in the "Guys and Dolls" chorus.

Despite the minor role, Fedurek still managed to create a very noticeable presence on stage, Scott said, and enrolled in Theatre 1, 2 and 3 courses at school.

"Kara started off a little quieter than she is now, but brave as heck," Scott said. "She would try anything."

In her sophomore year, she wanted to compete in the individual-events category for the Ohio Thespian Conference, Scott said. Fedurek said because most of the popular categories were already taken by older students, she gave playwriting a try.

"I read the first draft she gave me and was quite impressed," Scott said.

After giving her some notes, Scott waited for Fedurek to return with the revised version.

"The next time I read it, it seemed like the same play, but she had literally solved all the problems," Scott said. "She showed real writing potential right from the beginning."

This winter, Fedurek wrote, directed and cast her second play at Jerome. She said this one, called "Follow the Leader," is her favorite -- a farce about two girls in desperate need of money.

The duo end up starting a fake cult, gaining followers by stealing them from a real cult. The two cults, the real one and the false one, battle each other to keep the followers.

This play was a more intimate one than "Budget Cuts," Fedurek said, with a smaller cast. "Budget Cuts" had nearly 20 people in the cast, whereas "Follow the Leader" had 10 characters. She said she enjoyed working with a smaller cast.

In addition to honing her directing talent at school, Fedurek continued pursuing writing competitions with MadLab. In summer 2019, she submitted a 10-minute play called "To Be Human," and this time it was selected to be performed.

"It was really cool," Fedurek said. "It felt like a physical sign that I had improved. It was really nice."

Fedurek submitted another play to a MadLab competition this year. "Haunting for Sport," about two ghosts who mess around with humans in an apartment, is another 10-minute play MadLab chose to present. Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the play likely will be performed online in some capacity, rather than before a live audience, Fedurek said.

Fedurek said she won't leave writing behind once she departs for college. She's majoring in journalism but focusing on public relations.

It's an area in which she already has had some experience: This past year, she joined her school's journalism club and was surprised by how much she had enjoyed it.

And via an internship through Jerome's Young Professionals Academy, Fedurek had the opportunity to work remotely for a California company, updating its social-media page and writing articles.

"That was something that I really enjoyed doing," she said.

And playwriting is something Fedurek also doesn't plan to abandon. Ohio University supports the arts and self-produced works, she said, and when she toured the campus, professors there kept encouraging her to stay with her playwriting.

"I definitely want to keep doing it and keep working on it," she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah