Teen Writers’ Plays Will Come Alive in Playwrights’ Project’s 37th Season

| January 2, 2022 | 0 Comments

Playwrights’ Project will present its 37th annual Plays by Young Writers’ Festival showcasing new scripts written by youth across California. This year’s Festival will be presented with filmed performances offered virtually to the public and an in-person screening of the filmed performance at 7 p.m., January 22 at the Museum of Photographic Arts to celebrate the young playwrights.  Virtual public performances will take place at 7 p.m., January 28 and 29, 2022.

On-demand streaming will be available from January 31 through February 13, 2022 for teachers to share with students along with an education packet detailing writing prompts and discussion questions for each play. This year’s scripts were written by five young writers between the ages of 13 and 17.

Playwrights’ Project’s Executive Director Cecelia Kouma said, Plays by Young Writers offers young playwrights a rewarding opportunity to work alongside professional theatre artists to bring their writing to life in creative ways. This season features imaginative journeys and self-discoveries as writers contemplate self-identity, the value of connection, and the need for creative escape from the routines of daily life. These young writers have words of wisdom for all of us, regardless of our age. It is an honor to hear their insights and amplify the voices of these inspiring young leaders.” 

Each of these young writers is a winner of Playwrights’ Project’s California Young Playwrights’ Contest, and their plays will be featured in Playwrights’ Project’s 37th annual Plays by Young Writers’ Festival, sponsored by the Sheila and Jeffrey Lipinsky Family Fund and Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust. Contest winners were selected from 276 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions and one script will receive a staged reading.

All contest submissions were evaluated, void of identifying information, by Rachael VanWormer (contest coordinator) and a pool of theatre professionals who volunteered their time and expertise. The top 43 scripts were reviewed by Cecelia Kouma (executive producer), who worked with the contest coordinator to choose 10 finalists whose plays were evaluated by final judges. Final judges in the selection process included Peter Cirino (co-founder of TuYo Theatre and SDSU Theatre faculty), Ahmed Kenyatta Dents (director of Venue Experience & Artistic Associate at San Diego REP), Josefina López (award-winning Playwright & Plays by Young Writers Alumna), Annie Weisman (award-winning Playwright & Plays by Young Writers Alumna) and George Yé (Mesa College Theatre faculty and multi-faceted theatre artist). Yé, Kouma, and VanWormer chose the final plays for the season based on the judges’ feedback and interviews of the top finalists.

The Festival features work by writers ages 13 and younger as staged readings, and works by ages 14 to 18 years old as full professional productions. 

Plays by Young Writers’ Festival for ages 11 and up is directed by George Yé and includes “Boxed In” by 14 year-old Declan Kallberg of Temecula; “Petunia” is by 15 year-old Ana Cabrera of Cardiff; “Reverie” is by 17 year-old Jacqueline Vellandi of Ladera Ranch; “The Jealous Soccer Ball” is the work of 13 year-old Ahmed Al Hashimi and Yaseen Issa.                                                                   

Since its founding in 1985 by Deborah Salzer, thousands of writers have been entered scripts in the California Young Playwrights’ Contest and 192 have been produced in Plays by Young Writers. Many of the past winners have successful careers as professional playwrights. Lauren Yee (2004 winner), wrote the hit play “Cambodian Rock Band” and has earned awards and accolades including the 2019 Whiting Award for emerging writers, 2018 Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, and was named the second most produced playwright in 2020.

Ticketing and Information is available at www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw.

The Festival features work by writers ages 13 and younger as staged readings, and works by ages 14 to 18 years old as full professional productions. Ana Cabrera is a teen writer.

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