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

| April 4, 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 at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 14, and an in-person screening of the filmed performance at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 7 to celebrate the young playwrights takes place at the Salvation Army’s Joan B. Kroc Theatre. On-demand streaming will be available from Monday, May 9 through Tuesday, May 31 for teachers to share with students, along with an Education Packet detailing writing prompts and discussion questions for each play.

Cost for performances is $50 for public screening and a reception with the playwrights;$20 per household to stream online; pay what you can options available. On-demand virtual streaming to schools is free.

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.”

This year’s scripts were written by five young writers between the ages of 13 and 17.

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). 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 & 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.

Selection criteria focused on creative ideas, intriguing and authentic characters, original use of language, a story that is revealed through dialogue and action, producibility online, and a script that would benefit from further development in the production process. All contest participants who requested feedback received individualized written critiques.

In Declan Kallberg’s insightful and timely script “Boxed In,” decades have passed since COVID-19, but society still lives isolated from one another confined to their apartments. Neighbors Charles and Emily communicate nightly via screens, but Charles longs for a more human connection. Declan lives in Temecula, California, and attends Western Center Academy. He has been involved in youth theatre productions, classes, and camps since he was seven years old

The Festival features work by writers ages 13 and younger as staged readings, and works by ages 14 to18 as full professional productions. 

Petunia,”by 15-year-old San Dieguito Academy student Ana Cabrera follows the journey of a flower who has roots on both sides of the Mexico and United States borders. In this allegory of a family separated by the border, Petunia struggles with feelings of isolation as the only mixed- race flower in her community and explores the meaning of identity and belonging.

Has life ever felt so monotonous and overwhelming that you wanted to escape? In Jacqueline Vellandi’s play “Reverie,”three students escape mundane realities through a collective daydream. Will a life of endless fun be as carefree as it seems? Seventeen-year-old Jacqueline wrote her script while attending Orange County School of the Arts. 

This year’s staged reading is “The Jealous Soccer Ball” co-written by Yaseen Issa and Ahmed Al Hashimi, both age 13. A school yard soccer ball feels jealous and lonely when kids ignore him in favor of his basketball friend. How will he achieve his goal? Yaseen and Ahmed wrote their script as part of a Playwrights Project Residency in Melanie Ellis’s class at Hillsdale Middle School taught by Teaching Artist Tori Rice.

For tickets and information,visit www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw.

In Declan Kallberg’s insightful and timely script “Boxed In,” decades have passed since COVID-19, but society still lives isolated from one another confined to their apartments.

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