Inspired future playwrights + current theatre professionals =an innovative evening of theatre.

The long- awaited Delaware Young Playwrights Festival has returned here at DTC! The Delaware Young Playwrights Festival or DYPF, which has been on hiatus since 2008, has returned in all its glory with an interactive playwriting workshop for teachers, students, and professional theatre artists. Sixty-six high school playwrights from across Delaware participated, having submitted 50 plays — all of which were centered on this year’s theme of seeking truth, inspired by a quote from Arthur Miller’s All My Sons (Lest you forget: our season-opener this year): “Every man does have a star. The star of one’s honesty. And you spend your life groping for it, but once it’s out it never lights again”- Dr. Jim Bayliss. Plays were then submitted for feedback from DTC’s Department of Education with the six chosen finalists afforded the opportunity to showcase scenes from their plays on March 19th at 7:00pm, when an overall winner will be announced here on the DTC stage. (NOTE: I had the chance to glance at a few of these scripts and I was honestly in awe of the quality of writing of these HIGH SCHOOL students. This amazing writing, paired with DTC’s quality education dept, production team, and professional actors is truly something not to be missed). And better yet, the performances are FREE!

THE PROCESSS: Students were instructed to write a five to ten page, two-character play in which a character or characters experience a pivotal moment in their lives, as one or both seeks to discover truth. Collaborating on the re-imagining of this year’s DYPF is Director of Education & Community Engagement Charles Conway, Associate Director of Education & Community Engagement Johanna Schloss, Facilitator/Director Ben Smallen, and assisted by Consultant Marielle Eaton. These DTC theatre artists provided individualized feedback about each of the plays submitted in the first round and each school was invited to submit its top three plays for the second round.

THE WINNERS: We’re incredibly proud to announce that the following six plays were selected from the second round of submissions and will be presented in the March 19th final showcase: Alexander’s Last Battle by Sarah Gianakon of the Charter School of Wilmington, The Last Canvas by Sanjay Pelinski of Newark High School, A Late Night Dance by Katy Wicks and Hillary Marinelli of St. Elizabeth High School, The Lost Cause by Alexander Cook of Cab Calloway School of the Arts, One Truth by Heather McAdams the Charter School of Wilmington, and Thoughts on My Brother by Lillian Kairis also of the Charter School of Wilmington. These six student playwrights have spent the past several weeks teaming with our DTC folks as well as Philadelphia-based actors Kim Carson, Timothy Rinehart, Bill D’Agostino and Rebecca Vail work shopping these six plays as they refine their writing for the March 19th performances. Our friends from Möbius New Media stopped by last’s Saturday workshop to take some photos (see above).

WHY YOU SHOULD GO: After chatting with the actors, education department, and production team, I was so thoroughly impressed with the degree of collaboration I was seeing in this entire process. According to Director Ben Smallen (whose passion for both theatre and education is quite palpable): “What I have loved about working with this group of young playwrights is the fearless and thoughtful nature with which they have attacked their own writing and rewriting. They are deeply interested in getting and processing feedback on their plays and then implementing changes in order to have their work grow. And of equal importance (and impressiveness) is the intelligence and love with which they deliver constructive feedback to each other. They are never afraid to say what they feel about the work they have just heard and seen, but they understand so immediately how personal the work is to each writer so they are very aware of finding positive and productive ways of phrasing their feedback.” This got me to thinking how much I truly would have loved to be involved in a process like this as a high schooler (Actor Tim Rinehart echoed this sentiment too, and, actually, I think it’s pretty fair that every adult in this process wishes they would have had an opportunity akin to this in their high school days). Said quite succinctly by these playwrights:

“To go through the process of writing a play — all the time and attention it took to produce something I’m happy with — and then to see it performed on a [professional] stage, is the most rewarding thing of all!” –Alex Cook, Playwright

“Seeing a live-action adaptation of something that had always only been a collection of thoughts is a wonderful privilege, and I am excited to both view that and watch others’ reactions to it in the final performance.” – Lily Kairis, Playwright

“It has always been one of my dreams to see one of my works performed by real, professional actors. Just the thought that these fantastic actors will be bringing my play to life thrills me every time I think about it.” – Sarah Gianakon, Playwright

I thought actor Bill D’Agostino’s words were the most telling of the heart of this process: “These amazing writers are the future of American theatre and I am awed at the support they are being given by the Delaware Theatre Company.” It’s truly a great reminder of why we do what we do here at DTC…to create MEANINGFUL theatre and foster the next generation to do just that. I really do hope you’ll join us in celebrating these talented young Delawareans on Monday, March 19 at 7pm. Again, this event is free and open to the public. For more information, <a href="visit www.delawaretheatre.org/education_dypf.php">visit www.delawaretheatre.org/education_dypf.php</a>

We look forward to seeing you there! -Amanda Curry

                                           
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