• Kate Poling on the need to choose fight over flight

    by John Moore | Apr 21, 2018
    Kate Poling 800

    Featured actor in two new one-act plays by local playwright calls for more original work that is neither safe nor easy

    MEET KATE POLING
    SmokeKatie Poling, a DCPA Education Teaching Artist, plays Daisy in The Way Station and Stel in South Star, two original one-act plays by Denver playwright Rebecca Gorman O’Neill now being premiered by And Toto Too, the only Denver theatre company to focus entirely on producing new plays by women playwrights. Poling has performed for the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Arvada Center, Miners Alley Playhouse and Bitsy Stage. Favorite roles include Viola in Twelfth Night (Foothills Theatre Company), Guildenstern in R and G are Dead (NYU) and Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts). She also teaches children's theatre at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. (Pictured above: James O'Hagan-Murphy and Kate Poling in And Toto Too's 2015 production of 'Smoke.' Photo by Meghan Ralph, Soular Radiant Photography.)

    • Hometown: Highlands Ranch
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts          
    • What's your handle? @katepoling on Instagram
    • Twitter-sized bio: Colorado native. Old soul who loves tea, books, Shakespeare and dragons. A teacher and a student of the world.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would probably be in politics. I double-majored in political science at NYU, and I love the drama, the stakes and the potential to make the world better that is inherent in any political system. To me, it’s just a different form of theatre.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible at age 16. While very fun, I definitely need to age a few years before tackling that again.
    • Bucket-list role: Iago in Othello. And with all the gender-bending in Shakespeare these days, it could happen someday!
    • What's playing on your Spotify? The Anastasia Broadway soundtrack
    • What's one thing we don't know about you? I am super into Greek mythology, and I know a lot about it.
    • lily-rabe seminar. photo by jeremy danielOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I saw the play Seminar, by Theresa Rebeck, during its Broadway run, and it was a life-changing experience. The script was incredible, the characters were nuanced and the ensemble worked together effortlessly. Lily Rabe’s performance, in particular, blew me away. When an actor can make you love them, pity them, hate them, and want to be them all in a 90-minute period, you know you’re experiencing great writing and wonderful acting. Seminar also appealed to me because it beautifully expressed the idea that art and creation aren’t always easy, and they aren’t always comfortable, but they are necessary — and they are important.
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need to be offering rush tickets, discount tickets and other incentives to bring in younger theatregoers. Some places in Denver are really good about this, but it’s a simple way to bring in younger audiences, who might decide to spend their $10 on a play instead of a movie, or a beer.
    • What are The Way Station and South Star all about? The Way Station is the story of three strangers from different places and times, each pulled out of their travels and dropped off at a mysterious way station. It's about what happens when you run from your problems instead of facing them, and how people get stuck (literally, in this case) when they choose flight over fight. The South Star is set seven years in the future, during the second American Civil War. It's also about running, but this time it’s about spies, intrigue and war, as it takes place during a coming second American civil war.
    • Why do these plays matter? Everyone has things they’d rather run from than face, and I think The Way Station really highlights that flight never truly works out, and we should face things rather than try to bury them. As for South Star, we’re stuck right now in a political environment that is very black and white, and I think South Star really highlights that fact that there are grey areas between what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Even more than that, it brings war and rhetoric to its smallest level of the people and the lives that are affected by it.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing these plays? I hope they leave thinking about the plays and wake up the next morning still thinking about what they meant.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? I think it is so important to keep supporting and producing work that isn’t safe and easy. There have been great strides in Denver over the past couple of years, but we can do more. Pick the play that challenges. If you’re producing a classic, make sure it says something new. I think theatre wages a constant battle to stay relevant, and the best way we can do this is by continuing in this direction. That’s why I love working with And Toto Too. They only produce work by women, and only new work that hasn’t been done in Colorado. I think Denver needs more of that. More new work, more work not written and directed by straight white males, and more work that challenges audiences.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    The Way Station
    and South Star: Ticket information

    • Presented by And Toto too Theatre Company
    • Written by Rebecca Gorman O’Neill
    • Directed by Susan Lyles
    • Performances through May 5
    • At The Commons on Champa at 1245 Champa Street, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 720-583-3975 or go to andtototoo.org
    • April 27 will be an ASL interpreted performance
    Cast list:
    • Austin Lazek, Kate Poling and Seth Palmer Harris
    Note: The Way Station and The South Star is sponsored by The Next Stage NOW, an initiative of the city's department of Arts and Venues with a mission to enliven, diversify and sustain the Denver Performing Arts Complex through public performances, programming and place-making.

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    • Meet Erica Brown of Emancipation Theatre's Honorable Disorder
    • Meet John Ahlin of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Elizabeth Bernhardt of Phamaly's Romeo and Juliet
    • Meet Sheryl McCallum of Aurora Fox's Passing Strange
    • Meet Brynn Tucker of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Gustavo Márquez of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Denver Children's Theatre's Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Lone Tree Arts Center's Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • For one day in Denver, 'Hamilton' makes students the stars

    by John Moore | Mar 23, 2018


    The video above offers a full recap of 'EduHam' day in Denver, complete with interviews and performance excerpts. Separate videos of each individual performance below. Videos by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.

    Education program allows underserved students to rise up and have their voices be heard before thousands of peers 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Wednesday was no ordinary day at the Buell Theatre.

    The decibel was higher, the shrieks were louder, the ages were younger and the faces were distinctly more varied in color. 

    EduHam Mathenee TrecoThis was “EduHam,” the innovative educational program developed by the Broadway musical phenomenon Hamilton. On Wednesday, 2,700 students and teachers from 38 Denver-area high schools participated in morning activities followed by a matinee performance of the sold-out, Tony Award-winning musical. 

    You knew this performance would be different before it even began when the students in the mezzanine started a wave. You knew it during the show as they finger-snapped in affirmation of lines that connected with them and roared at the end of songs as if this were a rock concert. Which, in many ways, it was. You knew it as the show was ending when one voice pierced the silence with a scream of “Oh my God!” as, onstage, one of history’s most infamous bullets was piercing Alexander Hamilton’s heart.   

    The students were not only watching a piece of history. They were part of it. Because there has simply never been another pop-culture phenomenon quite like Hamilton. And, to shamelessly quote the show's anthem: They were in the room where it happened.

    “There are moments that the words don’t reach … “ 

    Hamilton, winner of 11 Tony Awards, is the story of Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, it features a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway.

    Cast member Mathenee Treco calls Hamilton the story of America then, as told by America now.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda on theatre's power to eliminate distance

    Hamilton changes lives,” said Treco, who attended Eaglecrest High School in Aurora. And EduHam was perhaps recalibrating the lives of many of the students who spent the day at the Denver Center participating in the show’s innovative educational program that debuted on Broadway in 2015 and has continued in every city it has visited since.

    The participating students prepared by spending up to three months in their classrooms studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Hamilton and the nation’s other Founding Fathers. On Wednesday morning, select students performed original works based on their studies – songs, rap, poetry, scenes and monologues – on The Buell Theatre stage, in front of their peers. Afterward, they had a Q&A with six cast members.

    “Immigrants … we get the job done”

    Treco, like Hamilton and many of the students in Wednesday’s audience, is an immigrant himself, having been born in the Bahamas and moving to Aurora with his family at age 6. “Today they saw a representation of themselves on the stage," he said. "Their energy was tangible. I could feel their excitement. And I think it's going to propel them.”

    Hamilton is performed by an almost entirely non-white cast. That the audience on Wednesday was almost entirely students of color, Treco said, was overwhelming — in the best possible way. “I want to see children of color feeling empowered and feeling uplifted,” said Treco. But it was not a coincidence, said Hamilton Education Program Manager Amy DiChristina of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

    It was the point. 

    “The goal of this program is to reach Title I schools across the country, and those schools are very often underserved,” DiChristina said. Title I schools have high percentages of children from impoverished families, many of which speak English as a second language. “They don't have the resources they need. And they don't normally have access to field trips like these, or tickets to a show like this.”

    DiChristina’s research indicates more than 65 percent of students who participate in EduHam  have never before attended a Broadway-level show in their lives. “So to be able to offer them both access and educational resources is the goal,” she said.

    Cast member Sabrina Sloan, who plays socialite Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton and volunteered to emcee the morning program at The Buell, said “it was incredible to see this group of students, specifically being mostly kids of color. I remember the first show my parents took me to was West Side Story, and seeing people who were brown onstage and seeing people who looked like me meant the world. It told me that theatre was something that was accessible to me. So knowing that Hamilton might be their first show ever really gives me chills.”

    (Story continues after the video playlist below.)

    Click the video above to see all 14 of the Denver 'EduHam' student performances in one video playlist. Each one plays after the other. Videos by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.


    “I wrote my way out…”

    Grace Padilla, a junior at Vantage Point High School, was one of the students who applied for — and won — a chance to recite from her poetry on The Buell stage. She has been writing since she was 7 years old, and self-published her own book at 14. She was inspired to bridge Hamilton’s story with her own by penning a variation on a song from the Broadway musical called “Wrote My Way Out.” It’s the story of how Hamilton, born out of wedlock on the Caribbean island of Nevis, was abandoned by his father, orphaned at 13 and came to the American colonies two years later to further his education. Padilla can relate.

    “I was born of dirt, but I will live of redwoods,” Padilla read, bringing her peers to their feet.

    “Growing up, I had to deal with being very poor in an abusive, broken home,” she said afterward. “Hamilton wrote his way out, and that is what I have been doing with my life, too. I really wanted to touch other people and be their voice and let them know they are heard, too.”

    Noah Thomas, a junior at Atlas Preparatory High School in Colorado Springs, opened the program by reading a poem called “Remember the Ladies,” written by his best friend, Laci Caballero. It's about Abigail Adams, wife of the second president, John Adams.  “While her husband was off building the country, he forgot the ladies," he said afterward. "This was Laci’s way of saying, ‘Remember them.’

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Performing for thousands of peers, Thomas said, made him feel emboldened. 

    "Even though I'm just a 17-year-old kid from Colorado, I felt like my voice was heard, and Laci's words were heard, and the message behind them were heard," he said.

    That, DiChristina said, is the point. “We want these students to go out into the world and feel empowered to use their voices for whatever they feel is important.”

    Four students from West Leadership Academy used their voices to perform a full scene called The Story of Peggy, about Hamilton's wife, in their native Spanish.

    "I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot."

    Padilla said Miranda’s spoken-word writing style is the biggest attraction to Hamilton for students  “because you just can't connect with the younger generation today without a little hip-hop and rap,” she said.

    Treco said Miranda isn’t telling a different story than what is already being told in history books. He’s just telling it in a more exciting way.

    Sloan says presenting constitutional debates and personal disputes as rap battles is not only a clever variation on a Broadway theme — it is an essential way of reaching younger theatre audiences. “And it doesn’t just reach students,” she said. “It reaches everyone across generations, color lines, social, economic backgrounds. There is a truth to it. There is a humanity in how he speaks."  And the way he speaks, Treco added, "makes history sound really, really cool.”

    Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints…”

    The Hamilton Education Program is one of several history education programs funded by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. “This project is transformative," said president James G. Basker — who devised the education program in New York in tandem with Miranda, Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller, The Rockefeller Foundation and the New York City Department of Education.

    "Hamilton has struck a chord with students because it embodies what great history education is all about: Bringing the past to life, and fostering connections with the exceptional individuals and moments that have made us who we are. This program empowers students to reclaim their own narrative and empowers teachers to bridge classroom learning with the stage.”

    (Story continues after the video below.)



    The response to EduHam on social media was rapturous. On Twitter, Jill Williams called the Hamilton “the best history lesson ever.” A sample of others:

    • “One of the best things about Hamilton is that every person in the room is excited about art and music and collectively vibrates with good energy,” a woman named Jennifer Tweeted. “We need more of that.”
    • Wrote Lois Rapport on Facebook: This was so fabulous. I am so happy to be a part of a group that encourages learning and helps kids fall in love with the theater. I was lucky that my parents took me to the theater at a young age, and I immediately was hooked.”
    • West Early College posted: We are so proud of our very own Josiah Blackbear, who was selected as one of the students to perform on stage for EduHam Keep an eye on our rising star. He is going places.
    • "That was amazing for those students. I hope the felt as inspired as I did," posted Matt Carnes.

    This is not a moment, it is a movement

    Treco said for it took guts for the high-school students to bare their souls before their peers on the Buell Theatre stage, but he’s sure the experience laid seeds of courage left that are already now germinating.

    "They killed it," Treco said. "Honesty is scary. But at the end of the day, they spoke their truth, and I promise you some of those kids just got really addicted to that feeling. … And some of them will be performing in Hamilton someday.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    The participating schools:

    ·    Alameda International High School
    ·    Arapahoe Ridge High School
    ·    Atlas Preparatory School
    ·    Bruce Randolph High School
    ·    Denver School of Science and Technology
    ·    Green Valley Ranch High School
    ·    Denver South High School
    ·    DSST: College View High School
    ·    Early College Academy
    ·    Emily Griffith High School
    ·    Global Leadership Academy
    ·    Harrison High School
    ·    High Tech Early College
    ·    John F. Kennedy High School
    ·    Justice High School
    ·    KIPP Denver Collegiate High School
    ·    KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy
    ·    Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    ·    Legacy Options High School
    ·    Manual High School
    ·    Mapleton Early College High School
    ·    Moffat School (K-12)
    ·    Monte Vista High School
    ·    Noel Community Arts School
    ·    North High School
    ·    Northglenn High School
    ·    Overland High School
    ·    RiseUp Community School
    ·    Sheridan High School
    ·    Sierra High School
    ·    STRIVE Prep RISE
    ·    STRIVE Prep- SMART
    ·    STRIVE Preparatory Schools - Excel Campus
    ·    The New America School Thornton
    ·    Vantage Point High School
    ·    Venture Prep
    ·    West Early College
    ·    West Leadership Academy
    ·    York International 

    The student performers (with video links):

    Noah Thomas, Atlas Preparatory School
    “Remember the Ladies”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/0v1stGZo7po

    Esteban Gallegos and Madis, on RustEmily Griffith High School
    “Hypocrisy of America”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/fys9vkwFyWc

    Eduardo Gonzalez and Sydney Hernandez, Global Leadership Academy
    “Boston Tea Party”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/VEbqfxspC58

    Erin JonesHarrison H, igh School
    “My Father”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/mrk_pIx_-7U

    Albert Ortega, High Tech Early College
    “George Washington at Valley Forge”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/dXjmAHPVTAw

    John Le, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    “Aaron Burr”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/-hT17DgOelU

    Luis Castro and Jesus Villa, Mapleton Early College High School
    “Hamilton v. Jefferson Constitution”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/xNR2vJ226_4

    Ryker Poor and Sabian Storm, Moffat School
    “Jefferson v. King George”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/wh1Af6pU5s0

    Precious Allen, Sierra High School
    “Common Sense”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/hAe-INcmJ2k

    Issak Lucero, Strive Prep - SMART
    “Benjamin Franklin"
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/KQBBuj94vxo

    Isabel Aguilar, Jaqueline Garcia and Brandon Garcia
    The New America School at Thornton
    “Boston Massacre”
    Direct video link:  https://youtu.be/xIv7YatWQfE

     Isabel Aguilar, Jaqueline Garcia, Brandon Garcia, The New America School at Thornton
    “Boston Massacre”
    Direct video link: https://youtu.be/bWk5j00QsGc

    Grace Padilla, Vantage Point High School
    “Wrote My Way Out”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/wMlT6NmvrPE

    Josiah Blackbear, West Early College
    “Alexander Hamilton”

    Zehydi Chaparro-Rojas, Jose Torres-Andazola, Rossy Martinez-Sanchez and Alexandra Andazola-Chavez, West Leadership Academy

    “The Story of Peggy”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/sRfGFcMZjC8

  • Videos of all 'EduHam' student performances in Denver

    by John Moore | Mar 22, 2018

    Watch students from 14 schools perform original songs, rap, poetry, scenes and monologues based on studies

    EduHam” is the innovative educational program that Hamilton debuted on Broadway and continued in Denver on Wednesday, March 21, when 2,700 students and teachers from 38 Denver-area high schools attended an all-student matinee performance of the hit musical at The Buell Theatre

    The students spent several weeks in their classrooms studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. Before the special performance, students representing various Title I schools performed original works they created based on their classroom studies – songs, rap, poetry, scenes, monologues – in front of their peers on The Buell stage. Title I schools have high percentages of children from low-income families.

    The Hamilton Education Program is one of several history education programs at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “This project is transformative," said president James G. Basker — who devised the education program in New York in tandem with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer Jeffrey Seller, The Rockefeller Foundation and the NYC Department of Education.

    "Hamilton  has struck a chord with students because it embodies what great history education is all about: bringing the past to life, and fostering connections with the exceptional individuals and moments that have made us who we are. This program empowers students to reclaim their own narrative and empowers teachers to bridge classroom learning with the stage.”

    The emcee in Denver was cast member Sabrina Sloan. Later Thursday, you can read more about “EduHam” in Denver on the DCPA NewsCenter, MyDenverCenter.Org

    Click here to see all 14 of the student performances in one video playlist, where each one plays after the other. 


    Noah Thomas
    Atlas Preparatory School
    “Remember the Ladies”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/0v1stGZo7po



    Esteban Gallegos and Madison Rust
    Emily Griffith High School
    “Hypocrisy of America”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/fys9vkwFyWc





    Eduardo Gonzalez and Sydney Hernandez
    Global Leadership Academy
    “Boston Tea Party”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/VEbqfxspC58



    Erin Jones
    Harrison High School
    “My Father”
    Direct link https://youtu.be/mrk_pIx_-7U



    Albert Ortega
    High Tech Early College
    “George Washington at Valley Forge”
    Direct link https://youtu.be/dXjmAHPVTAw



    John Le
    Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    “Aaron Burr”
    Direct link https://youtu.be/-hT17DgOelU



    Luis Castro and Jesus Villa
    Mapleton Early College High School
    “Hamilton v. Jefferson Constitution”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/xNR2vJ226_4


     



    Ryker Poor and Sabian Storm
    Moffat School
    “Jefferson v. King George”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/wh1Af6pU5s0


     



    Precious Allen
    Sierra High School
    “Common Sense”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/hAe-INcmJ2k



    Issak Lucero
    Strive Prep - SMART
    “Benjamin Franklin”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/KQBBuj94vxo


     

    Isabel Aguilar, Jaqueline Garcia and Brandon Garcia
    The New America School at Thornton
    “Boston Massacre”
    Direct link:  https://youtu.be/xIv7YatWQfE


     

    Grace Padilla
    Vantage Point High School
    “Wrote My Way Out”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/bWk5j00QsGc


     

    Josiah Blackbear
    West Early College
    “Alexander Hamilton”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/wMlT6NmvrPE




    Zehydi Chaparro-Rojas, Jose Torres-Andazola, Rossy Martinez-Sanchez and Alexandra Andazola-Chavez
    West Leadership Academy
    “The Story of Peggy”
    Direct link: https://youtu.be/sRfGFcMZjC8

  • DCPA's next Theatre for Young Audiences title: 'Corduroy'

    by John Moore | Mar 19, 2018
    Curduroy 5


    DCPA Education to follow its staging of The Snowy Day with Don Freeman's popular children's story Corduroy this fall

    The Denver Center's fall Theatre for Young Audiences offering will be Corduroy, based on Don Freeman's popular children’s books about a department-store teddy bear, it was announced today. 

    DCPA Education will stage more than 100 performances tailored for pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade audiences in The Conservatory Theatre. 

    “Theatre for Young Audiences provides opportunities for our youngest audience members to experience live theatre for the first time,” Executive Director of Education Allison Watrous said. “Arts education allows children to connect their experiences to stories on stage and participate in activities designed to engage their imagination, critical thinking and socio-emotional intelligence." 

    The Denver Center launched its new Theatre for Young Audiences last year to address a gap in its education programs for this  specific age group. Watrous believes it is crucial to introduce the vital force that live theatre can be in the lives of young people during those early years. Last fall, the DCPA welcomed nearly 20,000 Denver area students, teachers and families for 100 performances of The Snowy Day and Other Stories. Most remarkably, Watrous said, "79 percent attended on a full or partial scholarship.”

    Don Freeman wrote Corduroy in 1968, and and the book was included on the National Education Association's list of its top 100 books for children in 2007. Freeman, who died in 1978 was a painter, printmaker, cartoonist, children's book author and illustrator. Frequent subjects included Broadway theatre, politics and the circus. He was also a jazz musician. 

    In the play, which also incorporates Freeman's A Pocket for Corduroy, Corduroy is a teddy bear who has been patiently waiting on a department store shelf to find a home. A girl named Lisa thinks he’s just the teddy bear for her. But before she can convince her mom to let her take Corduroy home, he’ll have to go on a late-night hunt to find a missing button for his overalls. The ensuing chase becomes a sort of allegory for the universal search for happiness. And by the end, he finds both — the button and happiness. Curdoroy is a tender, enduring story about true friendship and the lengths we go to find it.

    Corduroy

    • Based on the books by Don Freeman
    • Adapted by Barry Kornhauser
    • Directed by Allison Watrous
    • Oct. 5-Dec. 9
    • Conservartory Theatre
    • Tickets will go on sale in summer 2018
    • There will be a a sensory-friendly performance on Oct. 22
    • Weekday student performances will be $10 and weekend performances will be $15. 

    To receive an alert when tickets for weekend performances go on sale to the public, sign-up at denvercenter.org/corduroy.
     
    All school groups are encouraged to participate in a no-cost, post-show workshop with DCPA Teaching Artists to give students an opportunity to explore themes and elements of the production. To receive an alert on Aug. 1, when reservations will begin being accepted for weekday student matinees, including post-show workshops and applications for scholarships, sign-up here.

    Scholarships are available for student groups. Call 303-893-6085 for information on how to apply.

  • 'American Mariachi' sets students on a search for the recipe of their American Dreams

    by John Moore | Mar 13, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore. 

    DCPA Education goes into schools to prepare students for themes expressed in plays such as American Mariachi


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Each season, DCPA Education partners with the DCPA Theatre Company to develop classroom workshops that help prepare students to attend performances of the company’s plays. Last month, more than a dozen members of the American Mariachi cast and band participated in workshops at Annunciation and Bryant-Webster elementary schools, whose enrollments are primarily lower-income students of color.

    “We engage students in these pre-production workshops to develop themes that are explored in the play,” said DCPA Teaching Artist Andre' Rodriguez. "And for American Mariachi, the overarching theme keeps coming back to the American Dream."

    With help from several American Mariachi cast members and fellow DCPA Teaching Artists, Rodriguez challenged the middle-schoolers to identify not only what their own American Dreams are, but their real and perceived barriers to achieving those dreams. The results were telling. Dream jobs expressed included playing in a variety of professional sports, being a rapper or doctor. One wrote: “Keep playing mariachi,” while another’s goal, simply, is “to be alive.”

    American Mariachi Luis Quintero“A lot of the kids wrote down that one of the big barriers to achieving their dreams is not having support from their own family members,” said American Mariachi actor Luis Quintero (pictured with an Annunciation student, right). Other common impediments expressed by the children, mostly ages 9-13, included money and access to college. “My thoughts,” one student wrote simply. “They say I can’t do it,” another scribbled in brightly colored ink.  

    Quintero was joined in the workshops by castmates Natalie Camunas, Jennifer Paredes, Bobby Plasencia, Amanda Robles and Heather Velazquez, as well as Rodriguez and DCPA Teaching Artists Joelle Montoya and Chloe McLeod. Working in small groups, the students and actors created their own original mariachis and performed them for the rest of the class. One such example:

    “My health is bad because
    I keep second-guessing myself.
    Self-doubt holding me back
    .
    It’s time to bring my confidence back.”

    “One of the most powerful parts of this experience is that they got to engage directly with the actors in their own classrooms, and then the following day, they got to see them on onstage at the Denver Center,” Rodriguez said.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below:)

    Photo gallery: American Mariachi in the classrooms

    Making of 'American Mariachi'To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The afternoon session at Bryant-Webster was special because it is one of the only schools in the state that has its own mariachi program and student band. To open the afternoon’s activities, the professional band from American Mariachi stood on the stage and played a song from the play for the approximately 100 students and staff gathered in the Bryant-Webster auditorium.

    “One of the student leaders approached me and said, ‘We would like to challenge the professional mariachi band to a duel,’ ” Rodriguez said. The student mariachi band then performed a song in return for the professional musicians. “It was a great show of community and celebration of tradition,” Rodriguez said.

    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous said programs such as the DCPA’s in-school workshops are a critical part of the process of introducing the theatre arts to unfamiliar students.

    American Mariachi spurs community conversations

    “We at the Denver Center know how important it is for students to experience theatre in their classroom — and first-hand,” Watrous said. “So we are excited to make that investment, and to partner with teachers and marry that with their curriculum. That is the heart of our work.”

    Natalie Camunas American Mariachi American Mariachi,
    which has ended its run in Denver but in two weeks will re-open at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, follows the journey of a young woman named Lucha who has become the caretaker for a mother with dementia. When Lucha finds a mariachi record that briefly brings her mother back to life, she becomes determined to learn how to play this magical song for her before it is too late. Although being a female mariachi player was unheard of in the U.S. in the 1970s, Lucha assembles a group of friends who help make her dream come true.

    Quintero was certain these students would get a kick out of seeing a live representation of their culture on the stage, “and in a positive light, Camunas added. “In a way that makes women look strong and happy and brave.

    “It was really nice to be able to bring them to our show that fully represents them in all the beautiful complexities that it is to be Mexican-American, which I think has never been more important and necessary than it is in these times.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    Annunciation at American Mariachi
    The class from Annunciation at school (above), and, the next day, attending a performance of 'American Mariachi' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of American Mariachi:
    Behind the scenes video: Making the Great Wall of American Mariachi
    Tony Garcia: American Mariachi is an American beauty
    When Leonor Perez found mariachi, she found her true voice
    American Mariachi
    Perspectives: Music as a powerful memory trigger
    Photos, video: Your first look at American Mariachi
    American Mariachi
    's second community conversation: Food, music and tough issues
    Cast announced, and 5 things we learned at first rehearsal
    American Mariachi
    : Community conversation begins
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company season
    Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

  • 'Saturday Night Alive' raises record $1.15 million for DCPA Education

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

    More than 800 see performance of Hamilton while supporting programs that serve 106,000 students every year

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' 38th annual Saturday Night Alive party netted a record $1.15 million on March 3. The fundraiser is a benefit for the DCPA’s extensive theatre education programs, which serve more than 106,000 students of all ages each year.

    With that evening's performance of Hamilton included as part of Saturday Night Alive, the evening sold out in record time — just one week. While more than 80Saturday Night Alive. Janice Sinden. Photo by Amanda Tipton0 guests enjoyed the full evening, another 200 joined the festivities at the show and after-party. The emcee was of CBS Denver.

    DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden described the evening as breathtaking.

    “At the DCPA, we believe that the arts are a fundamental part of a well-rounded education,” she said. “Being able to celebrate that with Hamilton, a show that is equally passionate about arts education, is an exciting opportunity for our Saturday Night Alive donors.”

    (Pictured at right: DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. Photo by Amanda Tipton.)

    In addition to seeing Broadway’s biggest blockbuster, guests enjoyed a luxury silent auction, dinner by Epicurean Group, and post-show desserts and dancing to music by the Wash Park Funk Band.

    Saturday Night Alive has now raised an estimated $29 million and has helped the DCPA provide theatre programs to more than 2 million students.


    2018 Saturday Night Alive

    Photos from the 2018 Saturday Night Live, starting with, above, members of the 'Hamilton' cast enjoying the post-show party in the Seawell Ballroom. To see more photos, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos. Image above by acustomlook.com. All other photos by Amanda Tipton. 

    2018 Saturday Night Alive

    • 2018 Event Chairs: were Susan and Steve Struna
    • Corporate Chairs: Lisa & Norm Franke / Alpine Bank
    • Silent Auction Co-Chairs: Keri Christiansen & Jane Netzorg
    • Patron Chairs: Lyn and Dr. Michael Schaffer
    • Platinum Sponsors: Roger, Rick & Friends; United Airlines
    • Emerald Sponsors: Salah Foundation, SRC Energy, US Bank, Westin Denver Downtow
    • Gold Sponsors: Alpine Bank; Assist2Hear; Bayswater Exploration & Production; Colorado State Bank and Trust; CRG, Epicurean Group; Kathie & Keith Finger; Genesee Mountain Foundation; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP; HealthONE; Edward H. and Margaret Anne Leede; Microsoft; Tuchman Family Foundation; PDC Energy; Xcel Energy; Trice Jewelers
  • Look back: 2018 Colorado New Play Summit got real

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2018
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Our gallery of photos above includes nearly 300 images from the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos Photos by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Adams Viscom.

    Readings explored contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from the recent and distant past

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Perhaps more so than ever, the Denver Center’s 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit explored complex contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from both the recent and distant past.

    Summit 2018 The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, a forgotten pre-Civil War slave trial and a horrible, headline-grabbing drunk-driving tragedy were among the real-life inspirations for the Summit’s four featured readings, all of which become instant candidates for consideration to be fully staged in the future.  

    The Colorado New Play Summit has grown into one of the nation’s premier showcases of new plays. Since 2006, the Summit has workshopped 54 new plays, leading to 31 fully produced world premieres as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. At this year’s Summit, more than 800 attendees also were treated to a record three fully staged world premieres: American Mariachi, The Great Leap and Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.

    But history of another kind was made on Saturday when the topic of gender identity was addressed on a Denver Center stage for the first time in its nearly 40-year history, and it came from a most unexpected source. A teenage boy uttered the words, “Dad, I’m non-binary” in high-schooler Noah Jackson’s play Wine Colored Lip Gloss during public readings of DCPA Education’s three statewide student playwriting competition winners.

    “It means so much to me that the Denver Center allowed my story to be heard,” said Jackson, who attends Girls Athletic Leadership School. “I had someone come up to me in tears saying that my play touched her so much. I am just over the moon that people are actually feeling the words that I have worked so hard on.”  

    2018 Summit: A look at all four featured plays

    The 2018 Summit came as DCPA Theatre Company leadership continues to transition from Summit founder Kent Thompson to incoming Artistic Director Chris Coleman, who told the Friday night crowd the Summit was “a great calling card” for the job he is about to embrace. “A festival like this is impossible at a lot of theatres around the country,” he said. “But new-play development is creativity at its most pure. There is enormous joy and heartache in watching something come out of nothing. And I want to be a part of the future of this organization's voice around the country.”

    (Story continues below the video)

    Video: Our interviews with all four featured playwrights

    Press play to watch all four of our short spotlight videos.


    The four featured Summit readings at a glance
    :

    • A Summit Playwrights Social Barbara Seyda’s Celia, A Slave recalls a 19-year-old African-American slave in Missouri who was convicted of killing her master in 1855 and hanged.
    • Kemp Powers’ Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue is the story of mixed-race twins who are genetically the same but to the entire outside world, one is perceived as black, and one is perceived as white.
    • David Jacobi’s The Couches takes its cue from the real-life story of a 16-year-old Texas boy who drove drunk and killed four people. His lawyer successfully argued the boy had “affluenza" — meaning he was too rich to know right from wrong.
    • Sigrid Gilmer's Mama Metallica is the story of a woman who copes with her mother's dementia through her muse: The heavy-metal band Metallica. "What makes you laugh will make you cry," she said.

    “This is a precious and fragile time in the life of these plays and that's because they are reflecting life which is also so fragile, as we have learned in these past couple of weeks,” said Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett,” referring to the Florida school shooting. “And that's why it’s so important to support new work and nurture it and fund it and produce it and give it to the world. That's our responsibility: To keep life moving forward. And I like to think of the Summit as the beginning of that.”

    (Pictured at right: From 'Celia, A Slave', from left: Jada Dixon, Owen Zitek, Director Nataki Garrett, Celeste M. Cooper.)

    Celia A Slave. Summit. Photo by John MooreThe Colorado New Play Summit allows for two weeks of development of each new play, culminating in a first round of public readings. Playwrights then take what they learn from their first readings back into rehearsal before more rehearsal and a second round of readings for industry professionals.

    This year’s Summit drew industry leaders from 33 local and national theatre organizations, with more than 150 directors, actors, artistic leaders, educators and others from 12 states attending or taking part. Visitors represented companies ranging from the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. to the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Closer to home, guests included the Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Curious Theatre, The Catamounts, Athena Festival Project and others.

    There was another added twist at this year’s festival in that both American Mariachi and The Great Leap are the Theatre Company’s first co-productions in nearly 20 years — upon closing, both will set off for stagings at other theatres with their Denver creative teams intact.

    Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap is a Denver Center commission, meaning she was hired to write a play for the Theatre Company’s right of first refusal. She used her Asian-American father’s real-life goodwill basketball tour to China in the 1980s as the basis for exploring, among many other things, the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Her play was read at the 2017 Summit, premiered in January at the Denver Center and will re-open at the Seattle Repertory Theatre later in March.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “This play would not exist without the Denver Center,” Yee said. “Not just because it's a commission, but also because of the way that the Colorado New Play Summit launches you into national consciousness. This is an event that the whole new-play development world looks at every year for leadership and inspiration.”

    The Couches. Adams VisComJosé Cruz González’s American Mariachi was given a second full year to germinate before being fully staged. It was introduced at the 2016 Summit, then developed for two years before opening in January. The story of a pioneering young woman who forms an all-female mariachi band in a desperate attempt to use music to communicate with a mother falling into dementia struck a universal chord with Theatre Company audiences. It now moves to the Old Globe Theatre, which is Director James Vásquez’s artistic home, for a run in San Diego.  

    (Pictured: Tasha Lawrence and Cesar J. Rosado in 'The Couches.' Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    “The Denver Center has been so unbelievably supportive since the moment we got here,” Vásquez said. “It's been a dream. And I feel like the luckiest guy in the world that now I get to take the show home and share it with my family and friends in San Diego.”  

    Vásquez is particularly grateful the Summit coincided with the Denver run of American Mariachi, where it was seen by dozens of artistic leaders from around the country.

    “It's overwhelming and exciting to think of how many industry professionals saw our play here at the Summit,” said Vásquez. “We do this work so we can share it, and I want Jose's play to get out into the world. So if the other professionals want to take it, I say … ‘Go.’ ”

    One of those professionals is former longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor David Ivers, now the Artistic Director at the Arizona Theatre Company. He already has added American Mariachi to his season lineup for performance in March 2019.

    American Mariachi resonates in myriad ways with the kaleidoscope of our community,” Ivers said. “The writing, the gift of mariachi music, the celebration and empowerment of women, and the struggle of loss in the face of hope are powerful and meaningful messages to explore in the communities we have the honor of serving.”

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit Slam. Photo by John MooreThe Summit again included two late-night "Playwrights Slams," where writers sampled their developing works in a fun and supportive atmosphere. One focused on local playwrights and was curated this year by the Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

    (Pictured at right: Playwrights Slam reader Mfoniso Udofia. Others included José Cruz González, Ricardo A. Bracho, Denver native Max Posner and Luis Quintero. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The Summit also included a gathering of the Women's Voices Fund, the Denver Center’s $1.5 million endowment that supports new plays by women and female creative team members. Since 2006, the Denver Center has produced 33 plays by women, including 14 world premieres, commissioned 19 female playwrights and hired 28 female directors Supporters of the fund were treated to a private gathering with 2018 featured playwright Sigrid Gilmer (Mama Metallica.)   

    The Summit ended on the same day the Denver run of American Mariachi closed. But unlike most other shows, closing day in Denver was just the start for the San Diego-bound cast and crew.

    “We’re leaving Denver,” said actor Amanda Robles. “But it doesn't feel like the end.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    Christa McAuliffe's Eyes Were Blue
    From left: Cast members Tihun Hann, Celeste M. Cooper and Owen Zitek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit Spotlight: Barbara Seyda's collision with voices of the dead
    Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white
    Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
    Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • Hamilton’s celebrated education program debuts March 21 at DCPA

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2018
    Hamilton. Joan Marcus

    The 'Hamilton' national touring company. Photo by Joan Marcus.

    2,700 students and teachers will attend performance of the Broadway musical at The Buell Theatre

    The innovative educational program that debuted at HAMILTON on Broadway will continue in Denver (Denver Center for the Performing Arts) on Wednesday, March 21 when 2,700 students and teachers from Denver area high schools attend the matinee performance of the musical at The Buell Theatre. 

    The March 21 all-student matinee performance in Denver will provide more than 2,700 Denver area high school students the opportunity to experience the musical HAMILTON after having spent several weeks in their classrooms studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. 

    In addition to seeing a performance of HAMILTON, students will participate in a Q&A with members of the HAMILTON cast.  As well, students representing various schools in attendance will perform an original work they created based on their classroom studies – songs, rap, poetry, scenes, monologues – on The Buell Theatre stage in front of their peers.  

    The Hamilton Education Program is one of several history education programs at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Its president, James G. Basker -- who devised the education program in New York in tandem with HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer Jeffrey Seller, The Rockefeller Foundation and the NYC Department of Education -- adds, “This project is transformative. HAMILTON has struck a chord with our nation’s students because it embodies what great history education is all about: bringing the past to life, and fostering connections with the exceptional individuals and moments that have made us who we are. This program empowers students to reclaim their own narrative and empowers teachers to bridge classroom learning with the stage.”

    HAMILTON producer Jeffrey Seller, who was instrumental in developing the HAMILTON Education Program, says about the program in Denver, “Our goal is to ensure that students have a shot to see HAMILTON and use its words, music and staging to further their understanding and enjoyment of American History, music and drama. We’ve had the pleasure of expanding the education program outside of New York in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities around the country.”

    Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation said “After the initial success of the partnership in New York City we could not throw away our shot to ensure students across the United States had the opportunity to witness living breathing history. We look forward to seeing the creativity and engagement this program continues to spur.”

    The HAMILTON producers are making tickets for this educational partnership available for $70, $60 of which is subsidized by Google. Tickets will cost $10 for each student.

    "Google is proud to work with Hamilton Education Program and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to bring Hamilton to thousands of students in the Denver community. The play shares a critical piece of American history and it's especially important for high school students to be engaged in civic learning and have a deep understanding of our country's past so they can make informed decisions about its future," says Gerardo Interiano, Head of External Affairs for Colorado. 

    The Rockefeller Foundation provided an initial grant of $1.46 million that funded the educational partnership in New York City.  After the resounding success of the partnership in New York, The Rockefeller Foundation committed an additional $6 million to the effort to support the national expansion of the program.  The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of supporting the arts and humanities, fueled by a belief that the cultivation of aesthetic sensibilities through literature, music and other fine arts is essential to the well-being of humanity.  The HAMILTON Education Program underscores the Foundation's commitment to nurturing the vitality of American cultural institutions and the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change.   

    HAMILTON is the story of America's Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.  

    With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

    The HAMILTON creative team previously collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award ® Winning Best Musical In the Heights. 

    HAMILTON features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

    The musical is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.

    The HAMILTON Original Broadway Cast Recording is available everywhere nationwide. The HAMILTON recording received a 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. 

    For information on HAMILTON, visit www.HamiltonMusical.com, www.Facebook.com/HamiltonMusical, www.Instagram.com/HamiltonMusical and www.Twitter.com/HamiltonMusical.

    ABOUT THE GILDER LEHRMAN INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN HISTORY

    Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the leading American history nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 education, while also serving the general public. Drawing on the 65,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

    As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

    For information on the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, visit www.gilderlehrman.org, www.Facebook.com/gilderlehrman, www.instagram.com/gilderlehrman and www.twitter.com/Gilder_Lehrman.

    About THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is the largest non-profit theatre organization in the nation, presenting Broadway tours and producing theatre, cabaret, musicals, and innovative, multimedia plays. Last season the DCPA engaged with more than 1.2 million visitors, generating a $150 million economic impact in ticket sales alone. Follow the DCPA on social media @DenverCenter and through the Denver Center for the Performing Arts News Center. The DCPA Broadway season is generously sponsored by UCHealth and United Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center for the Performing Arts is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Emmaleth Ryan, Grandview High School

    by John Moore | Jan 16, 2018
    2018 The Scenesters Emmaleth Ryan

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 10: EMMALETH RYAN

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Grandview High School
    • Teacher: Brianna Lindahl
    • Your play title: Sleep No More
    • What is your play about? A girl is fighting demons both within and without herself, and she decides to end the battle by committing suicide. However, her course is interrupted by another young woman who reminds her of the resilience of the human spirit.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? I was inspired by the sudden influx of suicide-related media that I felt misrepresented or glorified depression and suicide (namely the TV show 13 Reasons Why and the song 1-800-273-8255 by Logic.) I've struggled with depression and I know many people who have fought against bullying, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. This play was written as an attempt to honor, but not glorify, that struggle. The title of my play was taken from a line in Macbeth: "Sleep no more, Macbeth does murder sleep." This reference was a vague parallel between Macbeth, who becomes a tyrannical king, and the tyrant of my play, as they both ruin the peace of the innocent.
    • Yara Shahidi ScenestersFavorite word that appears in your script: Visceral.
    • Killer casting: If I had any kind of influence, my first choice for playing the Princess would be Yara Shahidi. She is a known social activist, and I'm endlessly impressed by the way she uses her intelligence and popularity to promote social justice in spite of her youth. She is the type of person I hoped to exemplify when writing the Princess. Additionally, she seems like a wonderful person to work with, and she's gorgeous.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? Writing this play brought me a great deal of peace. I spent a long time in the mindset of the Warrior, who is intelligent and spirited but sunk too deep in her misery to truly see reality as it is. Her role wasn't difficult to write. Writing the Princess was far more challenging, as she is meant to be the inspiring antagonist to the Warrior's suicidal thoughts. In the play, she has been kicked around by the world, but her response was not to hide but to fight back. This response was enlightening to me, and I learned more about how to grapple with life by writing a character who has fought her demons and won.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters Quote Emmaleth Ryan

    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists (to date):
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    A look back: Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Callista Zaronias

    by John Moore | Jan 15, 2018
    A 2018 Scenesters Callista Zaronias 800

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 9: CALLISTA ZARONIAS

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette
    • Teacher: Kristie Letter
    • Your play title: Invisible Scars
    • What is your play about? It's about a woman who has been sexually abused and struggles with what it means in her current life. It shows the internal conflict with her conscience as she fights to come to terms with the abuse.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Sexual abuse is a tragicjennifer-lawrence event and a much too common issue in today’s society. Many women are now voicing their stories of sexual abuse in the media. These women inspired me to help bring even more attention to sexual abuse. No one deserves to be abused, and no one should feel the need to keep quiet about it. Everyone deserves a voice, and I hope that my play can help others find their voice, too.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: Naive.
    • Killer casting: I would cast Jennifer Lawrence as Nicole's Conscience because of her spunky humor, and her real and gritty personality.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? That creative expression can come in many different forms. I also learned that words can have different meaning when they're written versus when they are said, and that difference can make plays uniquely powerful.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenesters Callista Zaronias quote


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Noah Jackson

    by John Moore | Jan 14, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Noah Jackson

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 8: NOAH JACKSON

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Girls Athletic Leadership School
    • Teacher: Amanda Flageolle
    • Your play title: Wine Colored Lip Gloss
    • What is your play about? A teenager named Lucca is dealing with gender-identity problems and how to tell his parents about it while his mother has her own issues with alcoholism.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? At first my play was inspired by my own struggles, but as it developed it strayed from that. Still, the underlying themes are based off things I have personally dealt with and was inspired by.
    • aubreyplazaFavorite word that appears in your script: Wonky!
    • Killer casting: I would cast Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) as Fey, not only because I love her with all of my soul, but because her sense of humor and style and sass would be perfect for Fey.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? A lot about myself. I learned how to take advice on social situations from my own characters, which actually helped me through a lot of problems I've faced. I've also learned that playwriting is a very, very long process.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenesters quote noah jackson


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel

    by John Moore | Jan 13, 2018
    2018 scenesters Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 7:
    JULIANNA LUCE AND TRINELL SAMUEL

    • Class: Seniors
    • School: Vista Peak Prep High School, Aurora
    • Teacher: Heathe Stecklein
    • Your play title: Technical Difficulties
    • What is your play about? It's a comedy about a group of theatre students who encounter every techie's worst nightmare: Their show has been seized by vengeful understudies. This is a production that tests that old cliché “the show must go on.” With power from the Techie Gods, will these techies save their show?
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Two years ago, we were asked to write a one-act play together as a part of a theatre class. With little writing experience, we struggled for a long time to think of script ideas until we realized we should just write about what we knew. We are both technicians in the Vista Peak theatre department, and knew it was a unique atmosphere for storytelling. What does every techie fear? A bad show. We began to write, and thus came Technical Difficulties.
    • Favorite word that appears in your scriptPizzazz!
    • michael ceraKiller casting: We would cast Michael Cera as Todd because he perfectly exudes a corny, nerdy, and awkward kid while still being inexplicably lovable. You subconsciously want to protect him, but also want to see him be brave. These same personality traits shape our character Todd.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? We learned just how fun creating a story can be, and how it can help open your eyes to situations you never really think about. We learned that the starving/striving artist mindset can be very different for  actors as opposed to technicians. The love and the utter need to be on stage could drive an actor insane, while working being behind the scenes can make you feel as if your work is not being acknowledged. As techies, we wanted to explore those different mindsets in our play. We love the hidden aspect of our jobs. We love the idea that people who only come to see a play never see all the work that went into it backstage. But when the lights, sound or even just the ambience that we help create draws "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience, it is mystical for us techies. That might not seem like enough to an actor. But it feeds the hunger of our inner artist.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters 2018 Quote Technical Difficulties


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Micah James Wilborn

    by John Moore | Jan 12, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Micah James Wilborn

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 5: MICAH JAMES WILBORN

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Air Academy High School, Colorado Springs
    • Teacher: Susan Manst
    • Your play title: A World Out There
    • What is your play about? Jack is a young boy orphaned by a sickness that also  took many others. When Brooke comes across his makeshift home, a newfound friendship is born and they begin to learn more about themselves than ever before. Only with each other's help can they overcome their greatest obstacle: Their pasts.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? A couple of close friends inspired the characters, while the storyline comes from a dystopian take on our world today. Some of the main characters' interactions are based off conversations I have had or overheard while writing this.
    • Daniel_HuttlestoneFavorite word that appears in your scriptQuarantine!
    • Killer casting: Daniel Huttlestone as Jack. Though it wouldn't be the first time he's played a "Jack," this role might show some differences from the Jack he played in Into the Woods! He seems the perfect age, and his image is actually what I had in my head while working on my Jack's character.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? That my own ideas can grow into something so much bigger, if I let them. This started out as a sentence and grew into a full-blown one-act musical. That is because I had an idea, and I stuck with it and, with some nurturing, of course, let it grow. For that opportunity alone, I am eternally grateful.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Quote Micah Scenesters

    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Gemma Vincent

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2018
    Scenesters 2018 Gemma Vincent

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 5: GEMMA VINCENT

    • Class: Junior
    • School: Gunnison High School
    • Your play title: The Girl In The Yellow Dress
    • What is your play about? It follows Kade, a boy full of grief and sorrow and animosity toward not just life, but the rain itself. It isn't until a mysterious girl in a yellow dress appears through the dewdrops that Kade’s outlook on life, and his hatred for rain, is changed.
    • Audrey HepburnFavorite word that appears in your script: Lugubrious!
    • Killer casting: I would cast Audrey Hepburn in the role of Daisy Amya, as she was in her own way, and in other roles she played, eccentric and whimsical. She was one of my favorite actresses.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This play has been a part of me for some time now. In having a rough couple of years health-wise, I have found something of a lifeline in my imagination of this world within the play, and in creating the characters. This play, and these characters have become close to my heart. In the rough patches in my life, I have been able to escape into words and writing and developing a story.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenester quote Gemma Vincent


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • DCPA Education spring and summer classes go on sale today

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2018
    DCPA Education classes
    DCPA Education's 'Musical Madness' students age kindergarten through fifth grade create and perform their own musical from scratch.


    Options include kids writing their own musical or gaining confidence with improv, and teens preparing for next step.


    DCPA Education’s winter classes kick off next week with 50 new classes ranging from intro to acting to scene study to Shakespeare’s text to auditioning tips to stage combat and even the Denver Center’s signature trapeze training.

    And while some of those classes still have slots open, today (Jan. 10), DCPA Education is also opening enrollment for its upcoming spring and summer sessions for children and teens, which run from April 7 through May 19, and June 4 through August 3.

    Last year, DCPA Education served nearly 106,000 students overall, of which more than 84,000 were youth. Included in those figures are the 4,000 adults, teens and children who took part in 400 year-round Education classes.

    To give you a small sense of what classes are newly available as of 10 a.m. today, here are three featured summer-class possibilities:

    NUMBER 1Musical Madness and Musical Mayhem. DCPA Education’s signature summer program for K-5 students gives children the chance to perform an original musical they create from scratch. They come up with the story, lyrics, dance moves and scenic elements, and they use their acting skills to transform their ideas into a 10-minute mini-musical they share with an eager audience in a free public performance. Musical Madness is the first class group (July 9-20), followed by the Musical Madness group (July 23-Aug 3). Classes run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cost: $500. Both end in public performances for friends and family.

    NUMBER 2Middle School Short-Form Improv: Youngsters develop a quick wit while exploring the fun and spontaneous world of short-form improvisational comedy. Using group activities, games and invented scene work, students build their confidence by learning how to make immediate, strong choices while cheering each other on in a supportive environment of creativity and spontaneity. Classes run June 4-8 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost: $250. The class ends with a public showcase performance.

    NUMBER 3High-School Summer Intensive. The Denver Center’s teen conservatory program is a great opportunity for committed high-school students who plan to pursue theatre in college. This program helps young actors who are  excelling in their school drama productions prepare for a serious career in theatre or film. Modeled after prestigious curriculums of the nation’s top acting programs, these two weeks are a unique opportunity for budding actors to grow while rubbing elbows with Denver Center acting professionals. Students must be sophomores, juniors or seniors in high school to apply. This program is considered the most challenging and rewarding actor-training experience for teen actors in the metro area. Classes run June 25 through July 9 from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m. Cost: $650. Click here or call 303-446-4892 for exact curriculum and application information.

    For more information, call 303-446-4892 or BUY ONLINE


    DCPA Education Classes

    DCPA Education served more than 84,000 youth last year in capacities ranging from classes to workshops to student matinees. The children above attended a performance of 'The Snowy Day' and then participated in a post-show workshop. The children below took the 'Musical Madness' class in 2015. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    DCPA Education Classes

    DCPA Education Musical Madness

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Katanu Mwendwa

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Katanu Mwendwa

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 4: KATANU MWENDWA

    • Class: Freshman
    • SchoolDSST: Conservatory Green High School
    • Teacher: Nate Reaven
    • Your play title: Don’t Be Fooled By Murphy Manor
    • What is your play about? In 1959, a murder happened at Murphy Manor. Now, fifty-nine years later, three girls — Lee-Ann, Aliana and Freddy — team up with the ghost of Jeanne Randall to solve her murder. Along the way, they discover truths they never imagined possible, and rediscover their pasts.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? It was actually during our finals testing, when we were told to write an essay about Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr. Once finished, I considered the possibility of writing about the 1950s, right around when protests were starting to grow.
    • Favorite words that appear in your script: Flutter Bum.
    • ChinaAnneMcClainKiller casting: If I could cast one known actor in my play, I would choose China Ann McClain to play Jeanne Randall. Based on what I’ve seen, I think her personality is similar to Jeanne’s. She also looks like what I had in mind for Jeanne as well. I would also cast Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton) to play Lee-Ann Rivera. because she looks and sounds exactly like what I envisioned for Lee-Ann.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? How to create dimensional characters who are likable, but still have their own individual flaws and ideas that separate them from one another. I also learned a lot about the 1950s, For example, that the album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis came out around the same time the story took place.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    ScenesterQuote42018


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Cameron Barnard, Joshua Martelon and Eliza Keating

    by John Moore | Jan 09, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Cherry Creek High School

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 3: JOSHUA MARTELON,
    ELIZA KEATING AND CAMERON BARNARD

    • Class: Seniors
    • School: Cherry Creek High School
    • Teacher: Matthew Gustafson
    • Your play title: An Unforeseen Stop
    • Responder: Joshua Martelon
    • What is your play about? It is the story of two people of extremely different backgrounds finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Lost in a big city, Nathan Reed, a blind man with no one in the world to call his own, finds that he and Bianca, a strong African-African woman making her way through hard work, have more in common than he expected. The heavy topics of bullying, discrimination, handicaps and racism are interspersed with the humor of two strangers, their cats and a mischievous little pineapple, making it a little easier for them to talk in this ever-changing world.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? This play was the creation of three friends not knowing what to write about for a Creative Writing assignment. While spit-balling ideas in class, we started joking about this and that in the ways of our dark humor — and suddenly it occurred to us that if we treated the jokes as more serious issues, they could create an interesting story. This The Blind-Apple (our original joke of a title) gave way to An Unforeseen Stop, something the three of us are proud to call our own.
    • nat wolffFavorite words that appears in your script: Our play is about two pretty normal city folk, so probably the most interesting word would be ... pineapple.
    • Killer casting: We would cast Nat Wolff from Paper Towns as Nathan Reed. Nat Wolff fits the physical description but more important, the roles he has played most recently in the movie adaptations of John Green's novels have been ones with deep character flaws that are physical, emotional and social. All these characteristics, which he adapted to beautifully, would bring Nathan Reed to life, in all his weird and awkward wonder.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This experience has taught us about what it means to be creative. It is easy to think of an idea for a play, but bringing characters to life and making scenes and dialogue realistic and yet entertaining is a thing of art, and my friends and I now have a greater respect for playwrights past and present who have filled our hearts and souls with the sweet and sad love of the theater.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters 2018 Cherry Creek quote


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters, No. 2: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks

    by John Moore | Jan 08, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 2:
    ASHLEY WRIGHT AND AMELIA MIDDLEBROOKS

    • Class: Seniors
    • Teacher: Kurt Muenstermann
    • Your play title: Forces of the Universe Anonymous
    • What is your play about? Life, Death, Time and Love are sick of their jobs and sick of humanity. Their interactions with humans have left them dejected and bitter. Life begins leading group-therapy sessions that are attended reluctantly. Slowly, each character begins to make discoveries about their views on relationships between themselves and humanity as a whole.
    • Return writer: Read Amelia's 2017 Scenester profile

    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Ashley: "I was inspired in part by The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The narrator of the book is Death, and though I haven't read it since seventh grade, the way he was characterized has always stuck out to me as unique and profound. The idea of adding in other characters besides Death came from Amelia." Amelia: "I love the animated movie The Book of Life for its beautiful art style and captivating story, which similarly characterizes Death and Life. Putting those two seeds of inspiration together is what grew this story.
    • Favorite words that appears in your script: Collide ... and pocket-watch.
    • 160 scarlett johanssonKiller casting: We both would enjoy seeing Scarlett Johansson play Love. She would be able to portray both sides of the character: Love is flirty and sexy on the exterior, but beneath the surface, vulnerable and protective.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? The forces of the universe (Life, Death, Time and Love) are not as separate as we may have once believed. Life creates love, love needs time, and while time ultimately does lead to death, it does not cancel out the reality of the life, love, and time of that individual. In the process of writing this play, we had to think hard about what the essences of these characters are. What is Love, really? Or Life, or Death, or Time? It is in one sense a great mystery but in another it is so apparent that by simply watching people come and go on a street one can see heartbreaking and heartwarming moments of each.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters Quote Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters, No. 1: Arianna Josue

    by John Moore | Jan 07, 2018
    1 scenesters_1.3_010518 2018 ARIANNA JOSUE 800

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we begin our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 1: ARIANNA JOSUE

    • School: Lakewood High School
    • Class: Sophomore
    • Teacher: Tami LoSasso
    • Your play title: Trauma Bay Five
    • What is your play about? Two girls: Mia who is very young, and Elliot, who is a teenager. As fate has it, they are in the same hospital when their lives change dramatically. They must navigate these new circumstances together to try to comprehend what happened and to accept their new, grim fate.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? I wanted to write something to call attention to child abuse and neglect, which can gravely change the way children view themselves and the world around them. I was inspired by my grandpa, who I call Bompo, to write about something that was really meaningful. My Bompo always encouraged me to be great, and he was a pivotal factor in who I am today. He loved his grandchildren more than words can describe, and I know not everyone is fortunate to feel that love from their family. Throughout the writing process I questioned myself, because this really is a dark story. But I felt that if my Bompo were still here, he’d remind me that I have a story to tell. Sometimes stories are dark and they can be hard to watch, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be told.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: Tolerance.
    • amandla-stenbergKiller casting: I would probably choose Amandla Stenberg who was the lead in Everything, Everything and Rue in The Hunger Games, to play Elliot. I personally feel she’d be able to play the emotions of Elliot accurately seeing how she was able to successfully portray a girl who had basically been trapped in her own home. I also feel she has the image of Elliot as I had imagined her, and it would be interesting to see her portray the character.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I learned about how to revise my work many times to make it the best it can be. I worked on my play with my theater teacher and some friends from school, and I edited it several times before it was finished.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Quote Arianna Josue


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2017 True West Award: The Women of 'The Revolutionists'

    by John Moore | Dec 25, 2017

    2017 True West Award The Revolutionists Photos Michael Ensminger

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 26: The Women of The Revolutionists 

    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company

    Playwright: Lauren Gunderson
    Director: Allison Watrous
    Marianne Angelle: Jada Suzanne Dixon
    Marie Antoinette: Adrian Egolf
    Charlotte Corday: Maire Higgins
    Olympe De Gouges: Rebecca Remaly
    Stage Manager: Karen Horns
    Set Designer: Tina Anderson
    Costume Designer: Brenda King
    Lighting Designer: Katie Gruenhagen
    Sound Designer: Ashley Campbell
    Properties Designer: Amy Helen
    Cole Dramaturg: Heather Beasley

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Revolutionists might just have easily been titled The Revisionists.

    Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s goal wasn’t to rewrite the past (that’s been the job of agenda-driven, mostly male historians for centuries) but instead to revisit the past and write it a bit more fully. You know … with women in it?

    BETC The RevolutionistsThe Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company emphatically and intentionally assembled an all-female cast and creative team in September to stage the regional premiere of The Revolutionists, a play Gunderson describes as a “brutiful” new comedy about four fierce and iconic women of history who are desperate to change the world at the height of the Reign of Terror in Paris.

    She’s talking about a revolution.

    Make that two. The one that happened then. And the one that needs to happen in the American theatre now.

    “Actually it was (BETC Producing Artistic Director) Stephen Weitz who pointed out from the start what an amazing opportunity we had with Lauren’s powerful play to gather a group of incredible women to tell this particular story,” Director Allison Watrous said.

    It is a story Gunderson raised from the collective crypt of undertold history about a playwright who was one of more than 16,000 political dissidents put to state-sponsored death by guillotine during the French Revolution from 1794-99. It was not an ethnic cleansing. More like an ideological cleansing, and Gunderson was inspired to write about it on a family trip to The Pantheon in Rome, where she came across a footnote about a feminist French playwright named Olympe de Gouges.

    “I did a cartoon-style double take and said, ‘Wait. A feminist playwright? During the French Revolution?’ ” Gunderson said in an interview posted to her blog. “After that, it was a gradual exploration of that time, and the striking similarities to our time in America now: A ridiculous war, drowning national debt, a vast divide between rich and poor, institutional racism, and the quest for women’s equality."

    Allison Watrous Quote True WestBETC's tagline for the play: Modern America really should have a talk with 18th century France.

    Watrous, who is one of the busiest directors in the local theatre community while also serving as the DCPA’s Director of Education, agrees that The Revolutionists could not be more relevant than it is today, when the biggest story in the American theatre continues to be gender inequality in virtually every aspect of theatremaking, and the biggest story in the country continues to be the wave of women who are rising up to expose decades of sexual assault by men in various positions of power.

    “It’s just time to take a stand for women right now,” Watrous said. “And one way to do that is to commit to telling and celebrating the untold stories of women on our American stages.”

    And who better to set the agenda for that conversation than Gunderson, who is now in her second year as the most produced living American playwright?

    “More than ever, this is the time to recognize those incredible female heroes whose powerful stories were not being told then, and may not be being told now," Watrous said.

    Three of the four bad-ass women (that's how Gunderson describes them) in The Revolutionists were real while one, by historical necessity, is a composite. “We don’t have many records of black women in the Saint Domingue rebellion. So I made her up,” Gunderson says on her web site. Here's a brief introduction to each: 

    Olympe de Gouges (1748-93):

    • Played by Rebecca Remaly
    • Olympe de Gouges was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached a large audience. She was desperate to believe that her playwriting could change the world for the better.
    • Quote: “Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can be based only on the common utility.”

    Revolutionists_Adrian Egolf_Photo by Michael EnsmingerAdrian Egolf had the time of her life — and all the cake she could eat — as Marie Antoinette in 'The Revolutionists.' 

    Marie Antoinette (1755-93):

    • Played by Adrian Egolf
    • The decadent Marie Antoinette was the final Queen of France before the French Revolution, consort to doomed King Louis XVI — and a fellow victim of the guillotine at age 37.
    • Quote: Antoinette was often credited for having said, “Let them eat cake!” when told that the poor were hungry — though the authenticity of the quote has never been proven.

    Charlotte Corday (1768-93):

    • Played by Maire Higgins
    • Charlotte Corday stabbed a journalist-politician named Jean-Paul Marat in a bathtub. He was an advocate of the violent purge of anyone he considered a traitor. ("Think Bill O’Reilly," wrote Boulder Weekly’s Gary Zeidner.) Writer Alphonse de Lamartine later gave Corday the posthumous nickname l'ange de l'assassinat ("The Angel of Assassination").
    • Quote: “I killed one man to save 100,000.”

    Marianne Angelle

    • Played by Jada Suzanne Dixon
    • Marianne Angelle is the composite character in the play. She represents all the real women of what is now called now Haiti who fought to free the island’s slaves and people of color during the same period as the French Revolution.

    Watrous’ staging charmed and disarmed audiences and critics alike, in part because of how funny it was, given the consequential subject matter. Westword’s Juliet Wittman was completely won over, calling the BETC staging “a true feat of the imagination. Gunderson has re-created the French Revolution in an entirely original form.”

    Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post said: “You’ll not see a better ensemble playing off each other with such fine aplomb. The bar has been raised."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Gunderson certainly knows how to write a great ensemble piece, Watrous said — that's something Denver Center audiences witnessed first-hand when the DCPA Theatre Company premiered her The Book of Will, which is now being staged at theatres across the country.

    True West Awards The Revolutionists Michael EnsmingerBut ironically, it was Egolf’s portrayal of Marie Antoinette, the one character pretty much everyone has heard of, that perhaps revealed the most. “Egolf fills a role most actors would kill for to the vain, hilarious, regal hilt,” Wittman wrote. “She’s childish, arrogant and sweet, and I’d see this production again and again just to watch the fluttery, dancerly movement of her hands.”

    (Pictured above, from left: Adrian Egolf, Rebecca Remaly, Maire Higgins and Jada Suzanne Dixon. Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    No matter how different the four women were in age, race and background, Zeidner wrote in his review, “it is their yearning for libertéégalité and sororité that unites them.”

    Translated, that means "liberty, equality and sorority." It's a slight gender variation on the more patriarchal national motto of France and Haiti. The revised version is a phrase commonly invoked today as a rallying cry to get more women participating in local politics. This is no time, Watrous said, to be passive.

    “With this play, Lauren Gunderson is saying that the reign of terror may be happening right now,” she said. “If we are not careful, we all might be heading to the guillotine.”  

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist

    About The True West Awards: '30 Days, 30 Bouquets'

    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore's daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards

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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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