• Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 playwriting finalists

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2018
    scenesters_finalists_011618 800

    The winning plays, taking on a wide array of topical issues, will be read at the Colorado New Play Summit

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts today announced the finalists for its fifth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition for Colorado high-school students:

    • Emmaleth Ryan, Grandview High School: Sleep No More, about a young woman who decides to commit suicide until she is reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. Says Ryan: “I learned more about how to grapple with life by writing a character who has fought her demons and won.” MEET EMMALETH
    • Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel, Vista Peak Preparatory: Technical Difficulties is a comedy about a high-school theatre production that has been seized by vengeful understudies. Say the self-described techies: When the lights, sound or even just the ambience we help create draws ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience, it is mystical for us. It feeds the hunger of our inner artist.” MEET JULIANNA AND TRINELL
    • Noah Jackson, Girls Athletic Leadership School: Wine Colored Lip Gloss, about a teenager dealing with gender-identity problems and how to tell his parents about it. Says Jackson: “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.” MEET NOAH
    2017 Student Playwriting_John MooreAfter week-long workshops and mentoring from nationally acclaimed playwrights, the winning playwrights will have their scripts read by professional actors at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, in The Conservatory Theatre. Finalists also receive a $250 cash scholarship and complimentary pass to all Summit activities.


    (Pictured: A reading of a student play at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The finalists were chosen from a field of 153 submissions, after which 10 semifinalists were named. Director of Education Allison Watrous noted that the entries covered a much more substantive range of important topics this year, including sexual abuse, gender identity, suicide, homelessness, child abuse race relations and addiction.

    "We are so inspired by the quality and the depth of the writing this year," said Watrous. "These writers are exploring the fullest potential of the art form through their use of poetry and nuanced dialogue. These extraordinary playwrights are writing with distinct, authentic and brave voices. We are honored to nurture and empower these emerging voices of the American theatre."

    Starting last fall, DCPA Education faculty Finalists quote 2018 Scenesterstaught 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. The subsequent submissions judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals.

    In addition to the Summit reading, each teacher of the finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    After the Colorado New Play Summit, one of the three scripts will be selected for full production during DCPA Education’s 2018 summer program.

    “These young playwrights are the next generation of theatre. It is our responsibility and our privilege to encourage them and give them the tools to succeed,” Watrous said. “We launched the one-act play playwriting competition in 2013 to nurture Colorado’s promising young playwrights, create new plays and inspire creativity.

    "In just five years, we’ve been overwhelmed with the response: 730 submissions and more than 13,500 students served through the program, giving voice to the next generation of American theatre.”

    It's worth noting that at this time of pronounced gender disparity in the American theatre, the DCPA's statewide playwriting competition has, by a blind judging draw, produced 70 percent female semifinalists in its first five years (39 of 56.) 

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:

    In addition to the previously announced finalists listed above, the judges singled out two entries for honorable mention:
    • Los Amorios by Catalin Varela, Castle View High School
    • This Play is Literally Impossible to Perform by Caroline Storey, Compass Montessori High School
    The coordinator of the DCPA's  student playwriting program is 2017 True West Award winner Claudia Carson. The sponsors are Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    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.

    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

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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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