• Boulder Ensemble Theatre commissions Idris Goodwin for new play

    by John Moore | Mar 06, 2018
    IDRIS GOODWIN. PHOTO BY John Moore
    Idris Goodwin is the co-writer and director of Off-Center's upcoming 'This is Modern Art.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.



    Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company expands commitment to parent playwrights with children under age 18

    The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company today announced it has a commissioned a new play by Colorado playwright Idris Goodwin, the co-writer and director of Off-Center's upcoming This is Modern Art.

    "BETC and I share the belief that the theater artists and audiences of the Rockies are hungry for relevant new work," said Goodwin, also a rapper and associate theatre professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

    Goodwin will be working with an ensemble of artists to develop a play about how public schooling in America intersects with race, poverty, civil rights, states’ rights and federal oversight. "We're going to dive deep into the question of who decides what is worth knowing?" Goodwin said. "I am eager to get to work."

    Jenifer BarclayOn March 22, Goodwin's production of This is Modern Art, which recounts the true story of the biggest graffiti bomb in Chicago history, opens in the Jones Theatre.

    BETC's new-play development program, called Generations, supports the work of parent playwrights with children under 18. And this year it is being expanded to host a second residency, for University of Maryland assistant playwriting professor Jennifer Barclay. Her play Danny was selected from more than 150 submissions as part of BETC's annual Generations competition. Danny is a drama about two generations of African-American women set in the Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago.

    Barclay will receive a week-long residency in Boulder to develop Danny with a professional cast, director and dramaturg — with childcare support provided by BETC. The workshop will culminate in a public reading in August.

    “I am thrilled that BETC offers an award and development opportunity that is specifically for parents of young children," Barclay said. "I am grateful for the commitment that BETC has made to new plays, as well as their commitment to easing the burden of the playwright parent's work and life juggling act."

    Producing Artistic Director Stephen Weitz said the goal for the Generations program is to welcome all generations into the theater to see new plays, and to empower playwrights to generate new work.  “Our program has a unique focus and demonstrates our commitment to foster new play development here in the Colorado community that will have wide-ranging impact across the country and the theatre industry," he said. 

    This is Modern ArtThis is Modern Art: Ticket information

    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances March 22-April 15
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Idris Goodwin:
    This is Modern Art will make you look: Cast list, first-day report, photos
    Idris Goodwin is going places: From Curious' Detroit '67 to Denver Center
    Graffiti: Modern art or 'urban terrorism'?
    Vast and visceral: Off-Center season will include This is Modern Art
    Video: Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band

  • 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: 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

  • 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

  • Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays performed

    by John Moore | Jul 13, 2017
    Video above: We talk with the two student playwrights whose works were fully staged by DCPA Education actors on June 11. 



    DCPA Education's fourth annual Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition is a one-act playwriting competition designed for Colorado high schools. Its mission is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices.

    Each fall, local playwrights and DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, conduct writing workshops and encourage students to submit one-act plays for the competition. This past year, 138 playwriting workshops were held in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state.

    Student playwriting A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly. Ten were named as finalists. Four of those were chosen to be workshopped and have a staged reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. In previous years, one play has then been chosen for a full summer production by DCPA Education’s summer teen company. But this year, competition officials chose to advance two scripts to full stagings. The winning plays were Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak High School (pictured above), and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Each play had two public performances on June 11 in the Conservatory Theatre.

    Video: Our report from the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit

    This video above includes interviews with the playwrights, Director Steven Cole Hughes and student actors Nathaniel Pagibigan, Madeleine Kee and Jacob Maki.

    For information on next year's competition, starting with school workshops in the fall of 2017, go to denvercenter.org/education.

    Video by David Lenk and Avery Anderson for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
     

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • After Albee: America's 10 leading, living playwriting voices

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2017
    Tony Kushner. Steven Barclay Agency.
    Photo: Steven Barclay Agency.


    When Edward Albee died last year, USA Today and Time Magazine were just two major publications that referred to the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner as “America’s greatest living playwright.” Which begged the question: America now turns its lonely eyes to … whom?”

    That’s the wrong word, of course – “greatest.” Playwriting is not a competitive sport. Substitute the words “most important” or “most influential,” and you have the seeds for a subjective dialogue on those voices who now bear the opportunity – and the burden – to tell the stories that will help audiences make sense of these newly unstable and uncertain times.  Nataki Garrett Quote

    The DCPA NewsCenter posed the “After Albee” question to a swath of local and national playwrights and industry professionals, and it should surprise no one that they believe the leading, living voice in the American theatre today is Tony Kushner. Not  even close.

    But the Top 10 names the survey yielded is a welcome indication that “the status quo is shifting,” said Nataki Garrett, the DCPA’s incoming Associate Artistic Director. The list, which not long ago might have consisted of nearly all white men, is evenly divided between male and female playwrights - even at a time when studies suggest as few as 25 percent of the plays staged in America today are written by women.

    The Top 10 includes not only Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel, Sarah Ruhl and avant-garde off-Broadway pioneer María Irene Fornés, but they are all writers who have in their own ways abandoned old-school literalism in their storytelling.

    Read John Moore's 2005 interview with Edward Albee

    “This list lets us know we’ve entered the 21st century, but we still have much work to do,” Garrett said. “There is not a trans writer in the Top 10, and there are not enough people of color. There is a greater complexity of voices in the American theatre out there.”

    It is notable that while an equal number of male and female theatre professionals were invited to participate in this survey, more men than women actually responded. And yet, the Top 10 still yielded five women. The panel includes playwrights Robert Schenkkan, Caridad Svich and Jason Grote; American Theatre Magazine editor Rob Weinert-Kendt; Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg, and resigning Denver Center Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

    The response to Albee’s death last year seemed to acknowledge a storytelling void in his wake. "But I believe us to be in a Golden Age of American playwriting,” said Goldberg, who championed, among others, Annie Baker and the emerging, 32-year-old African-American Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon).

    How I learned to Drive. Curious TheatreThe Top 10 also acknowledged established names that have dominated the American playwriting landscape for the past five decades - a wide range of voices and tones that spans the bittersweet nostalgic comedy of Neil Simon to the gleeful cruelty of David Mamet, who inspired a generation of followers who have reveled in the worst in human behavior. On the other end of the spectrum is Vogel, best known for her deeply human examination of family incest in How I Learned to Drive, but whose legacy will include her influence as a playwriting professor who has unleashed the boundary-bending creative freedom in two generations of students.

    Read John Moore's 2011 interview with Tony Kushner

    Simon’s place on the list, while obvious and necessary, surprised even some of those whose votes put him there. “I went back and forth over a 24-hour period and was actually very surprised to land on Neil Simon at the top,” said Denver playwright Jeffrey Neuman (Exit Strategies.) “But when you look at the depth, scope and breadth of Simon's career, his plays have had enormous impact and an immeasurable reach. Simon's plays are a part of our cultural consciousness in a way that virtually no other American playwright can claim today.”

    Angels in America. Bas Bleu OpenstageMost of those who placed Kushner at the top of the list did so in acknowledgement of his epic, angry, six-hour masterpiece Angels in America. Written in two parts and now, shockingly, 25 years old, Angels in America “put gay men at the center of American politics, history and mythology at a time when they were marginalized by the culture at large and dying in waves,” wrote Isaac Butler and Dan Kois for slate.com.

    In a 2011 interview, Curious Theatre founder Chip Walton told me what Kushner does better than anyone else is make the personal the political, and the political the personal. “So rather than sitting in a theater and listening to an ideological argument, he tells this deeply human story that is intricately interwoven with the politics at play,” Walton said, referring to Kushner's Homebody/Kabul. Kushner has always embraced the role of the playwright in the political discourse. Even back in 2011, he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever read about a time in human history as dangerous as this.”

    In that interview, which preceded a public appearance in Colorado Springs, I asked Kushner to assess the importance of the playwright, and he looked to the inherent, ephemeral nature of theatre itself. “When a production is done, it’s gone forever,” he said. “You can take pictures of it. You can make a film of it. But it’s not the production. It’s not the same thing. And yes, you can describe it, and you can read hopefully good criticism about it. But the thing itself is gone, and the only thing that remains behind is the Bible. The play. It’s what begins and it’s what endures. It’s the only fixed thing – to the extent that it is fixed.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Stephanie Prugh, recently the dramaturg for the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Glass Menagerie, said Kushner belongs at the top of her list because of his ability to create beautiful and epic plays that capture how humans struggle with prejudice, fear, longing and an innate need for love and acceptance in such an intimate and personal way.

    Tony Kushner Quote“I think sometimes I walk into the theatre longing to be reminded of our collective humanness, especially during these tumultuous times," said Prugh. "Kushner's body of work is challenging us on the most important topics. He never avoids difficult conversations, and he's asking that we not only remember what we are capable of as individuals, but as a collective - defined by the humanness he actively puts on the stage.” 

    Curious Theatre announced last week it will stage Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures next year as part of its 20th anniversary season.

    Asked his own opinion on America’s leading playwriting voices, Kushner pointed to Suzan-Lori Parks, calling her Top Dog/Underdog “completely in the tradition of a play like Eugene O’Neill’s Long Days Journey Into Night."

    While this survey specifically sought “writers of plays,” it should be noted that several voters believe lyricists Stephen Sondheim and Lin-Manuel Miranda deserve their places on the list - “by a factor of 10 billion,” said playwright Michael Mitnick (Ed, Downloaded).

    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 TOP 10 AT A GLANCE:

    Tony Kushner

    NUMBER 1Born: New York
    Age: 60
    Best-known work: Angels in America
    Published plays: 30
    He said it: “We’re living in an age right now where there is a problem in general with serious dramatic criticism, which I think is largely gone and has been replaced by a lot of consumer advocacy-type writing. It’s a problem because theater, given how cash-starved it is, is more vulnerable to the effects of newspaper criticism than something like film. Theater really gets damaged when there is a paucity of good criticism around.”
    Comment: "To me, the title of 'greatest living American playwright' should go to an artist whose work combines structural daring with rhetorical heft. His or her plays should be aesthetically thrilling and intellectually stimulating in equal degree, and they should also be possessed of something mysterious - some pulse of life that we can feel without quite being able to name. Tony Kushner's plays [and musical books] epitomize all those qualities. His work can be savored purely for its aesthetics, yet for anyone trying to think big thoughts about America, it's also an indispensable companion. Plus, one always gets the sense of something bigger lurking just outside his scripts, waiting for us to grasp it. It's exhilarating." – Mark Blankenship, Theatre Development Fund

     


    Sam ShepardSam Shepard

    NUMBER 2Born: Fort Sheridan, Ill.
    Age: 73
    Best-known work: Buried Child
    Published plays: 62
    He said it: “The funny thing about having all this so-called success is that behind it is a certain horrible emptiness.”
    Comment: "Shepard’s dramatic world often takes on the struggles of manhood and is peopled with derelict, disappointed somnambulists: Unmoored souls who form a kind of tribe of the living dead, deracinated men trying to escape a sense of shame that they only vaguely understand. They recede from family, from society, and, through drink, from themselves.” John Lahr, The New Yorker (from his essay here)


    lynn nottageLynn Nottage
    NUMBER 3Born: Brooklyn
    Age: 52
    Best-known work: Ruined
    Published plays: 22
    She said it: "I always thought of my mother as a warrior woman, and I became interested in pursuing stories of women who invent lives in order to survive."
    Comment: “For 30 years, Lynn Nottage has written quality plays from an African-American perspective that are socially important and appeal to wide audiences. I would say she is the successor to August Wilson in that regard.” - DCPA Director of New Play Development Douglas Langworthy. Playwright Michael Mitnick calls Nottage “the inheritor of Paula Vogel and John Guare.”


    Suzan-Lori ParksSuzan-Lori Parks
    NUMBER 4Born: Fort Knox, Ky.
    Age: 53
    Best-known work: Top Dog/Underdog
    Published plays: 19
    She said it: “I don't care what anybody says. Stick to the spirit of the play and you're doing it right. It's about embracing the spirit of the text instead of noodling some idea about things.
    Comment: “As with Caryl Churchill, one doesn’t know what to expect next from her. She can be playful, serious, and theatrical all at the same time. She is bold. She has a lot of plays left to write and she has remained loyal to the theater.” Playwright Rogelio Martinez.
    And another: "Parks brilliantly and unapologetically revises history, revealing the ways in which the personal truly is political. Her plays are delightfully irreverent, keenly subversive, radiant, hilarious, heartbreaking and ultimately very, very important." Emily K. Harrison, founder, square product theatre company


    Neil SimonNeil Simon
    NUMBER 5Born: The Bronx, N.Y.
    Age: 89
    Best-known work: The Odd Couple
    Published plays: 34
    He said it: “All comedy is based on hostility.”
    Comment: “Neil Simon. Yeah, I said it. (Bleep) everyone who disagrees. Comedy is an art, and he is the most popular artist of his generation and beyond because his comedy is foundational and spot-on. Humans love it. Not snobby-smart humans. Humans. That is my statement.” Denver actor Michael Bouchard



    Paual_VogelPaula Vogel
    NUMBER 6Born: Washington, D.C.
    Age: 65
    Best-known work: How I Learned to Drive
    Published plays: 15
    She said it: “The theatre is now so afraid to face its social demons that we've given that responsibility over to film. But it will always be harder to deal with certain issues in the theatre. The live event - being watched by people as we watch - makes it seem all the more dangerous.”
    Comment: “The woman is a lot like her plays: Fun to listen to, tough, relentlessly friendly, and more than a little bit twisted. Paula also holds something back, as her plays do so brilliantly. An unreadable smile, a demon or two, a voice that cracks from pain and then recovers; enigmas, left for her audience to explore or not.” – Actor Mary Louise Parker (in an interview here)


    Sarah RuhlSarah Ruhl
    NUMBER 7Born: Wilmette, Ill.
    Age: 42
    Best-known work: The Clean House
    Published plays: 19
    She said it: “Theatre is, at its roots, some very brave people mutually consenting to a make-believe world, with nothing but language to rest on.”
    Comment: "Sarah Ruhl she knows that childhood shapes world events with a vengeance, even among the powerful. More, she is a deeply literary writer, and what this gentle literary pilferer peruses, she uses. She reads Shakespeare and re-dreams his romances; she reads Woolf and time travels with Orlando. She makes a play from the letters of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. – Todd London, Executive Director of the University of Washington's School of Drama (from his essay here)


     

    MariaIreneFornesMaría Irene Fornés
    NUMBER 8Born: Cuba
    Age: 86
    Best-known work: And What of the Night?
    Published plays: 45
    You should know: Fornés is a Cuban-American avant-garde playwright and director who was a leading figure of the Off-Off Broadway movement in the 1960s. Fornés' themes focused on poverty and feminism, and lesbian identity has been central to her art.
    Comment: “María Irene Fornés is a rough contemporary to Albee who created a new kind of visceral and feminist language for the stage, writing drama as if she'd just landed from another planet and was handed a few random pages of Ibsen and Chekhov.” – playwright Jason Grote, ‘1001’


     

    David MametDavid Mamet
    NUMBER 9Born: Chicago
    Age: 69
    Best-known work: Glengarry Glen Ross
    Published plays: 104
    He said it: “Nobody cares what you feel.”
    Comment: “The master provocateur is infuriatingly brilliant, having spent the majority of his career honing a peculiar, cruel adeptness for showing men and women at their most amoral and violent. His world is a vulgar wasteland devoid of ethics and compassion, but there is an undeniably rhythmic intoxication to his dialogue.” – DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore



    David Lindsay-AbaireDavid Lindsey-Abaire

    NUMBER 10Born: Boston
    Age: 47
    Best-known work: Rabbit Hole
    Published plays: 18
    He said it: “Look, writing Rabbit Hole came out of an interest in diversifying my portfolio, frankly.”
    Comment: “Rabbit Hole is the most perfect play I know of by a living playwright. It strikes the utmost balance between pathos and progress as it examines the relationships of all those left behind after the child's death.” – playwright Leslie C. Lewis



    PRAISE FOR OTHER AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHTS:
    (in alphabetical order)

    Lee Blessing
    “Lee Blessing is, in my opinion, the best-kept secret in American theatre. He has written more plays than Shakespeare and is produced all over the country. His plays are always about something. He has said, ‘The purpose of theater is to shake you up, not give you a warm glow. That's the job of the circus.’ His plays make me think, let me grow and develop as a human being.” - Director Christy Montour-Larson

    Stephen Adly Guirgis
    “I feel strongly that any ‘great’ American playwright should know how to capture the complex and vibrant voices of a diverse America. I fear that many great playwrights get overlooked because they don't consistently write stories from a cultural point of view that is shared by the theatre-patron majority. With Guirgis, I feel there's a vibrancy and cultural complexity to his work that captures America. And as an actor, I love the visceral tensions that fill the souls and words of his characters." - Regan Linton, Artistic Director and Acting Executive Director, Phamaly Theatre Company

    Arthur Kopit
    "He’s had a long career and written some incredible plays. What makes him special is you just don’t know what he’ll write next. Wings, Indians and Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad, are all classics. The Road to Nirvana has not been seen by enough people, but it’s funny and vicious as all hell. People forget that a lot of his plays are a response to the times he was living in when he wrote them." - ‘Blind Date’ Playwright Rogelio Martinez

    Tarell Alvin McCraney
    "I put Tarell on my list because he's doing something so new and different. He is telling important and intriguing stories for the African-American communities as well as the LGBTQ world. But he is still so young. I think, if he continues to be so prolific, he will be the greatest." - Josh Hartwell, Dramatists Guild

    Terrence McNally
    "My vote is for longevity, continuity, diversity of subject matter, openly addressing homosexuality and the AIDS crisis, working in both straight-play and musical genres, and general intelligence, wit and social criticism. But I vote for McNally especially for Master Class." - DCPA Literary Associate Chad Henry

    Lin-Manuel Miranda
    "Lin-Manuel Miranda is reinventing the American theatre in an unprecedented way. 'Greatest playwright since Shakespeare' is a bit premature, but I hope it ends up being true." - Steve Wilson, Mizel Arts and Cultural Center Executive Director 

    Stephen Sondheim
    “Time will accurately lump him with Mozart and Shakespeare. (And yet, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize.)" - Playwright Michael Mitnick

    And another: "Sondheim is, in fact, the greatest theatrical voice alive today." - Blind Date playwright Rogelio Martinez


    THE VOTING PANEL:

    • Mark Blankenship, Theatre Development Fund
    • Michael Bouchard, Denver actor and writer
    • Ben Dicke, Theatre Department Chair at The Chicago Academy for the Arts
    • Brian Freeland, New York writer and director
    • Wendy C. Goldberg, Artistic Director, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
    • Jason Grote, playwright
    • Emily K. Harrison, square product theatre company founder
    • Josh Hartwell, playwright, Dramatists Guild
    • Chad Henry, playwright, DCPA Literary Associate
    • Douglas Langworthy, DCPA Director of New Play Development
    • Leslie C. Lewis, playwright
    • Regan Linton, actor, Phamaly Theatre Company Artistic Director and Acting Executive Director
    • Ina Marlowe, director
    • Rogelio Martinez, playwright
    • Melissa Lucero McCarl, playwright
    • Timothy McCracken, actor, DCPA Education Head of acting
    • Charlie Miller, DCPA Associate Artistic Director for Strategy and Innovation
    • Michael Mitnick, playwright
    • Christy Montour-Larson, director
    • Jeffrey Neuman, playwright
    • Bev Newcomb, director
    • Stephanie Prugh, dramaturg
    • Robert Schenkkan, playwright
    • Howard Sherman, Director at Arts Integrity Initiative at the New School for Drama
    • Philip Sneed, Arvada Center Executive Director
    • Octavio Solis, playwright
    • Caridad Svich, playwright
    • Kent Thompson, DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director
    • Diep Tran, American Theatre Magazine
    • Allison Watrous, DCPA Director of Education
    • Rob Weinert-Kendt, Editor, American Theatre Magazine
    • Edith Weiss, actor, director, playwright
    • Rebecca Weitz, Managing Director, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Stephen Weitz, Producing Ensemble Director, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, playwright
    • Steve Wilson, Executive Director, Mizel Arts and Culture Center


    Selected previous coverage of the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit:
    Summit stands in thanks to departing founder Kent Thompson
    2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal
    Summit Spotlight: Robert Schenkkan on the dangers of denial
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide
    Summit Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays on the aftermath of trauma
    Summit Spotlight: Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America
    Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit
    DCPA completes field of five 2017 Summit playwrights

  • The 2017 Scenesters: Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll

    by John Moore | Jan 09, 2017
    Scenesters Corinna Donovan Walker Carroll
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tuesday: Scenester profile No. 7.


    SCENESTERS NO. 6:
    CORINNA DONOVAN AND WALKER CARROLL

    • School: Crested Butte Community School
    • Class: Juniors
    • Teacher: Laura Daniels
    • Your play title: As We Know It
    • What is your play about? It's about a Utopian island society that has been living in the same way for centuries. When pirates arrive on the island, chaos breaks loose and traditions are broken. The natives and pirates go to war because of a misunderstanding and nonacceptance. However, many lessons are learned, and boundaries are redefined. 
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? The clash between the Native Americans and settling Europeans inspired our idea for this play. We had just completed a unit on Native American studies in our class.
    • A Scenesters James FrancoFavorite word that appears in your script: "Plethora." 
    • Killer casting: In a perfect world, we would have James Franco, because his personality and acting skills encompass what we envision Star to be.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? Writing this play together taught us teamwork. Overall, we learned how to put ourselves in our characters' shoes, which gave the play a more realistic feel. We also learned how to write a story and get our point across through dialogue.

    Scenesters Quote


    Our countdown of the 2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School

    No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    No. 4: Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    No. 5: Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School

    About the 2017 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 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    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 132 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 2016 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 2017.

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

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters, No. 1: Sarah Shapard

    by John Moore | Jan 02, 2017
    A Scenester Sarah Shapard. 2017 Teen Playwriting Semifinalist. Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we begin our exciting daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tomorrow: Scenester profile No. 2.

    SCENESTER NO. 1: SARAH SHAPARD

    • School: Overland High School
    • Class: Senior
    • Teacher: Eric Eidson
    • Play titleWaiting
    • What is your play about? A woman wakes up in a place called “The In-Between.” It's somewhere between Earth and the Afterlife, and it's for people with unfinished business. There, this woman meets a young girl named Claire, who died in the early 1900s. The play is about how you need to come to terms with yourself before you can resolve anything else.
    • A Raffey Cassidy teen playwritingWhat was your inspiration for writing your play? I find it interesting how people often lie to each other, but they lie to themselves even more. I wanted to write about the importance of coming to terms with yourself and letting go of those lies. I think that’s the only way to move on with your life.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: “Wisenheimer.” It means a know-it-all. It's an appropriate insult for a character to use who lived in the early 1900s.
    • Killer casting: I would cast Raffey Cassidy in the role of Claire, the child who died in the early 1900s and has been in the “In-Between” ever since. Cassidy (pictured right) played Athena in the Disney movie Tomorrowland, which was a very similar role - a child who thinks she is wiser than all of the adults in the story. The difference is that Athena actually was smarter than most of the other characters in Tomorrowland, while Claire doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I wrote this play for a summer class, and honestly, I thought my script was amazing. But when we we read it out loud and talked about it, it I realized no one understood what it meant. In fact, no one even understood the concept. So I ended up rewriting the entire thing from scratch, and it turned out so much better. The experience of completely changing a script was very valuable. It was a lot of work, but it was totally worth it to take the bare bones of what worked from the first draft and start over to create a much better play in the end.
    A Scenester Sarah Shapard Sample

    A look back at our profiles of the 2016 Scenesters:

    No. 1: Jafei Pollitt, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 2: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian High School
    No. 3: Kristine Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
    No. 4: Gabrielle Moore, D'Evelyn High School
    No. 5: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Kalina Gallardo, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    No. 7: Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 8: Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw, Chatfield Senior High School
    No. 9: Kendra R. Knapp, Valor Christian High School
    No. 10: Jacob Kendrick, Peak to Peak Charter School

    About the 2017 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 138 playwriting workshops in Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in many more 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 132 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 2017 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 2017.

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

    Video bonus: Student readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit:

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video, story: Stirring the passions of student writers ... and future engineers

    by John Moore | Jun 07, 2016

    In the video above, we interview the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and look at performance excerpts as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The DCPA's third annual year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition will culminate Friday, June 17, with two free, fully staged performances of student playwright Kendra Knapp’s Sonder in the Denver Center's Conservatory Theatre.

    Last fall, DCPA Education staff conducted 145 classroom workshops for 3,100 Colorado students. That resulted in 212 one-act play submissions from young writers all over the state - up from 158 the year before. A team of professional adjudicators determined 10 semifinalists. Of those, three were selected to have their plays workshopped by the DCPA Education staff and read by professional actors at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in February. They were:

    Knapp, a recent graduate of Valor Christian High School, was a top-10 finalist last year. This year, her newest play was singled out for full production. Sonder follows a community of young people who are seeking real connection, but from the safety and distance of the internet.


    Our complete Student Playwriting photo gallery:

    2016 Student Playwriting Competition
    Photos from rehearsal through performances of the three finalist readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Knapp said it was “super exciting” to get into the top 10 last year, and decided it was worth doing again. “When I got in the top three, I figured there’s really no worst-case scenario for me," she said.

    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous said the purpose of the teen writing initiative is to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    Teen playwriting quote“This program is all about inspiring the passion of playwriting in the next generation of writers,” she said. But playwriting promotes a variety of life skills, no matter what profession they one day choose. Knapp, for example, is headed to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., where she will study aerospace engineering. “But I will probably still be writing, too,” Knapp said.

    Submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and educational professionals. The three finalists each receive a cash scholarship of $250. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists receives a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    Knapp’s play was then further selected for a full production this summer. The staging will be directed by DCPA Education Head of Acting Tim McCracken and performed by actors from the DCPA's summer education classes.

    At a time when much of the national theatre dialogue is focused on the lack of fair female representation among American playwrights, it was telling that all three of the student finalists are young women.

    I think that‘s great, especially because it was picked blind," said Wood, a rising senior at Denver Christian School. "We know we were not being picked just because we are women - we were picked because we have talent, and we have abilities, and it’s great that the DCPA is helping us realize this."

    Added Moore: "I really appreciate the DCPA for not feeling the need to fill a quota, and that we’re being appreciated for our talent, no matter what age or gender or background we come from."

    Another commonality the three finalists share is faith. Two of the writers attend faith-based schools - Valor Christian and Denver Christian - and the third writer (Moore) wrote her play about a young woman who goes on a meaningful search to understand how God’s fallen angel came to be known as the Devil.
    Student Playwrights Sonder

    From left: Student playwriting finalists Kendra Knapp, Jessica Wood and Gabrielle Moore. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The finalists found it refreshing that the adjudicators were clearly open to stories with a religious theme, which is not always the case in the theatre.

    “I think there are certain stigmas about both the theatre and the church,” said Wood. “On the surface, they seem opposed to each other, but I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think it’s really cool that you can be a member of the church and still be a writer in the theatre, which isn’t something a whole lot of people think you can do.”

    Moore was worried that making the Devil a central character in her play might be taken the wrong way. "Offending people was not the goal at all,” she said. “I wanted to tell a side of the story we typically don’t hear in church. I’ve heard pastors tell us that we need to avoid the Devil - but I’ve never really understood why."

    Reserve your free seat to see Sonder

    Knapp’s play has no religious overtones but she says she’s used to facing prejudice as a woman, a Hispanic, a person of faith and a theatre kid. “I’m used to people meeting me and then having this taste in their mouth where they go, “You’re from a Christian school? And you're into theatre?” I’m used to that attitude. But then I come here to the Denver Center and they just say, “OK, let’s get to work.” And I’m like, “Wait, you’re not going to ask me about my political views? Where’s the interrogation?”

    Each finalist was mentored during the Colorado New Play Summit in February by a commissioned playwright with the Denver Center Theatre Company: Rogelio Martinez (Knapp), Anne García-Romero (Moore) and Lauren Yee (Wood), all of whom are developing new plays for the DCPA’s right of first refusal.

    “Rogelio had some ideas and insights for the play that hadn’t been presented to me by any other voice,” said Knapp. "It’s just a really good feeling to get feedback from someone you know is established who says to you genuinely, 'This is good.' ”

    Student Playwrights Sonder
    The cast and creative teams from the three student playwriting readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The three finalists and their plays are featured in the video report at the top of this page. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: What did you think when you found out you were in the top three?

    Gabrielle Moore: My mom told me I had to look at this email because it was really important. And I was like, “Mom you’re probably misinterpreting it. They’re probably just saying, ‘Thank you for your submission’ - not that I actually won. When I read it, I was genuinely amazed.

    Jessica Wood: When I found out I was in the top three, I was really excited, because I put quite a lot of work into it. To see my work realized and accepted meant a whole lot. It was really great.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Kendra Knapp: I showed the email to my dad and he was like, “Wow, that’s super exciting!” And then I had this sudden moment of dread where I was like, “Oh gosh, I’m going to have to actually talk to people. No! I have to put on a dress! I can’t just sit in my pajamas all day!"

    John Moore: How did it help your writing to work with a director from the DCPA Education team?

    Jessica Wood: Shortly after I was selected, Mr. (Steven Cole) Hughes sent me some notes that said he liked my play, but there definitely were places where we can improve it. So I made some changes before I even went into rehearsal. Then I met my wonderful director (Allison Watrous), all of my actors, and they’re all great. We sat down and read the whole play through, and I said, “OK, I can definitely see some structural weaknesses.” So I changed my play - and then the next day, I changed it again. I think I had a rewrite every single day. And by the time we were done, I got to understand the whole feeling of the play. I got to learn how to best impact the ears of the audience, what sounds pleasing and what doesn’t, and really what makes for a good script.

    John Moore: What was it like to see a professional reading of your work?

    Gabrielle Moore: Starting out with an idea a year ago and getting to watch it develop into being on the stage was incredible. Even though there were some rewrites, my director Patrick (Elkins-Zeglarski) ensured me that I know what’s best for this play, that this is my authentic voice, and I could put in whatever I want, to an extent. It was nice to know that this is still my play, even though the DCPA has been nice enough to take care of it for me.

    John Moore: What was it like to hear audience responses for the first time?

    Jessica Wood: When the the lights went down for my play, I just felt this moment of sudden, sick dread because I was convinced that everyone would hate it. It’s really terrifying when you have a live audience because you don’t know how they’re going to react. You don’t know if they’re going to connect. You don’t know if they are going to be bored out of their minds. And if that happens, you’re to blame for that. But they were great. They were kind, they were polite, they laughed, and hopefully they cried a little bit.

    John Moore: How is this whole experience emboldening you?

    Gabrielle Moore: I learned a lot about myself through the writing process, especially through my character, Teresa. Because I’ve had trouble understanding everything I need to know about being a Catholic. And writing this play really helped because I did a lot of research on Mother Teresa. She said a lot of times when she prayed, she wasn’t sure if God was always there. But that didn’t stop her from doing good things and being a good person. I think she’s such an amazing woman to do that. I just want to keep being a good person and being a good writer and impact other people to do good through plays like this.

    Jessica Wood: I definitely think there’s a bit of a look that you get from adults when you tell them you write. They say, “Do you, really?” And then here comes this opportunity at the Denver Center where they say, “Yes, you are a writer. Now why don’t you give us some of your writing and let us help you make it better?”

    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.

    Sonder: Performance information
    1:30 and 7 p.m., Friday, June 17
    Conservatory Theatre in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education 1101 13th St.
    This performance is free, but an RSVP is requested by clicking here 

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of the Student Playwriting Competition:
    2016 finalists named for Regional High School Playwriting Competition
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative
    Direct link to our Flickr photo gallery


    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists:
    No. 1: Jafei Pollitt, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 2: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian High School
    No. 3: Kristine Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
    No. 4: Gabrielle Moore, D'Evelyn High School
    No. 5: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Kalina Gallardo, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    No. 7: Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 8: Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw, Chatfield Senior High School
    No. 9: Kendra R. Knapp, Valor Christian High School
    No. 10: Jacob Kendrick, Peak to Peak Charter School

     

  • 2016 Colorado New Play Summit video: Local Playwrights Slam

    by John Moore | Mar 02, 2016



    The 2016 Colorado New Play Summit's Local Playwrights Slam was co-hosted by DCPA Theatre Company Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez and the Athena Project, which is dedicated to supporting and expanding women’s voices.

    Local Playwrights Slam. Colorado New Play SummitSix local playwrights were invited to sample excerpts from upcoming works before an enthusiastic crowd of Summit attendees at The Jones Theatre on Feb. 13, 2016.

    In the video above, we talk to Athena Project Executive Producer Angela Astle and featured playwrights Rebecca Gorman O’Neill and Felice Locker about the Slam, and the need to champion women in the theatre. 

    "The perception is that women are actually equally represented onstage, and the reality is that they are not," said Astle. "Rather than gripe about what we are not getting as female playwrights and female artists, we are doing something about it.

    "Only 20 percent of plays produced are written by women, and that needs to change."

    Gorman O'Neill found her entire Local Slam experience to be a gift.

    "We’re all one big theatre community here in Denver," she said, "and the more we interact and intersect, the stronger the arts in Denver become." 

    The other featured playwrights were Lisa Wagner Erickson, Leslie C. Lewis, Catherine Wiley and Jennifer Faletto. Video by Kevin Strasser and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photo coverage:
    2016 Local Playwrights Slam

    Photos from the 2016 Local Playwrights Slam. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. To download any photo for free, click on the image and follow the options. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of 2016 Summit (to date):

    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Summit Spotlight video: Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    Summit Spotlight Video: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Summit Spotlight Video: Mat Smart, Midwinter
    DCPA rolls out the welcome mat: It's Summit weekend
    2016 Summit playwrights introduce their featured works
    Three major Summit events to be streamed live
    Featured playwrights named for 2016 Summit
    Audio: Colorado Public Radio on the 2016 New Play Summit

  • Theresa Rebeck: Bar plays should be 'humanly reckless'

    by John Moore | Jan 20, 2016
    a Womens Voices Fund 800
    Theresa Rebeck recently spoke to a group from the Denver Center's Women's Voices Fund about gender disparity in the American Theatre.


    Celebrated playwright Theresa Rebeck has a soft spot for bar plays. Her newest world premiere, a commissioned work for the DCPA Theatre Company, is a bar play called The Nest. That’s the name of a neighborhood watering hole on its last legs. “But it’s got very beautiful bones inside it,” she says.

    The bar is from another time. Its neighborhood is changing and its regulars have dwindled to an anachronistic few. And now the owner has been approached by outside forces to sell. “It’s really about the architecture of our communities and how they are being razed in favor of a much more impersonal and corporate reality,” she said.

    That Rebeck has a soft spot for anything might come as a surprise to audiences who gasped through her last Denver Center world premiere back in 2008. Rebeck’s Our House was an angry, cutting satire about the corrosion of journalism and the simultaneous rise of reality TV. It skewered random targets such as media mergers, the gun culture and more … with a slowly expanding pool of blood covering the stage floor. The play was a piece of inspired fury.

    Rebeck proudly called Our House “intentionally messy” back in 2008. And eight years later, she summoned the very same expression to describe The Nest.

    Theresa Rebeck Quote“I feel like the mandate of any play that takes place in a bar is that it should ramble a bit,” she said with a laugh.

    “I think it needs to be a little humanly reckless.”

    Rebeck is known for writing uncommonly topical plays that turn a mirror on the contradictions and aggravations of everyday contemporary life. And like most regulars at any given favored watering hole, Rebeck is nothing if not refreshingly outspoken. Let her loose in a fictional bar populated by small-town regulars, then add booze, and you open Rebeck’s pointed pen as wide as a whiskey spout for just about any topic she wants.

    When drinking at The Nest, no conversation is off limits. The same holds true when talking with Rebeck. She doesn’t want you to love her plays. She wants you to listen to what they have to say.

    Visitors to the DCPA’s annual Colorado New Play Summit got a sneak peek at The Nest last February. The Summit introduces four evolving scripts each year, and at least two are then selected for full production the next mainstage season. Last year, the chosen were The Nest and Tanya Saracho’s FADE.

    Rebeck looks at the DCPA Theatre Company’s comprehensive new-play development program, headed by Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, Director of New Play Development Bruce K. Sevy and Dramaturg Douglas Langworthy, as a national model. Last year, development time at the Summit was expanded to two weeks. Rebeck found the extra time to be invaluable for The Nest, and not only because her play underwent two name changes.

    “Going into the Summit, I just had a feeling the play was too tidy and that what I needed was to explode it a little bit,” she said. “And yes, I exploded it."

    Thompson also co-founded the DCPA’s Women’s Voices Fund, a $1 million endowment that specifically supports new plays by women and the hiring of female directors. The fund has allowed the Theatre Company to produce 26 plays by women, commission 16 female playwrights and hire 20 female directors since 2006.

    “Kent Thompson absolutely walks the walk,” Rebeck said. “Those three guys have a very delicate touch and an enormous respect for all of the artists they invite here. I love it here. I feel very safe.”

    The Nest 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.
    Reading of 'The Nest' at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit last February. Photo by Kyle Malone.


    The issue of gender disparity in the American theatre has grown like a national drumbeat in recent months. According to a recent sampling, just 22 percent of all plays produced on American stages between 2011-14 were written by women, even though women generally average up to 61 percent of the theatregoing audience.

    But this is a conversation Rebeck has been leading her entire adult life. And frankly, she’s happy to pass the mic. “I am encouraged because I don’t have to be at the center of it anymore,” said Rebeck, who created The Lilly Awards with Marsha Norman and Julia Jordan in 2010 as a way to call attention to the work of women in the American theatre.

    “I strongly feel like going to the theatre should always be a lesson in empathy,” she said. “It is something that creates community that can potentially bring us all into the same understanding of our shared humanity. And I think that’s what The Nest is ultimately about. So I cannot wait until we are working in a post-gender universe.”

    That’s why she was happy to hear the following anecdote from last year’s Summit. At the end of a public reading of The Nest, a man turned to his companion and said, “I never would have guessed that was written by a woman.” Rebeck, after all, has been compared to blistering peers such as David Mamet and Neil LaBute. Rebeck, ironically, considers herself to be “absurdly and almost incoherently optimistic.”

    But she took the gender comparison to be compliment, she said. "Because I think that has to be a person who thinks of women in a certain way, and now he has come to understand that what he thinks about women is not necessarily accurate.

    “So I think that’s really good.”


    The Nest: Ticket information
  • By Theresa Rebeck 
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:
    The Nest flies in the face of national gender trends
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Cast profiles (to date):
    Meet Kevin Berntson
    Meet Brian D. Coats
    Meet Brian Dykstra
    Meet Carly Street
  • Meet the cast: Brian Dykstra of 'The Nest'

    by John Moore | Jan 15, 2016
    Brian Dykstra, right, at the opening rehearsal for the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Nest.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    MEET BRIAN DYKSTRA
    Patrick in The Nest

    At the DCPA Theatre Company: Debut. Most recently played LBJ in All The Way at St. Louis Rep. Broadway: Lucky Guy. Regionally: Jerusalem (Rooster Byron), Red (Mark Rothko), Copenhagen (Heisenberg), A View from the Bridge (Eddie Carbone), Seminar (Leonard). As playwright: Clean Alternatives, Hiding Behind Comets, A Play On Words, STRANGERHORSE, Spill the Wine, Forsaking All Others. Film/TV: Poor Behavior (written and directorial debut, Theresa Rebeck), Freedomland, Knight and Day, The Affair, Third Watch. Core Artist, The Lark Theatre.

    • Hometown:  Redondo Beach Calif. – even though I was raised in Torrance, right on the Redondo border. Redondo is way cooler.
    • Training: BFA, California State University, Long Beach. MFA, Rutgers.  
    • Website: briandykstra.net
    • What was the role that changed your life: It might have been playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing in college. It was that wonderful part, and I had to be good enough that the play wouldn’t suck if I were bad. I mean, you can’t really rescue a Much Ado About Nothing if the Benedick sucks. So, I guess the idea that I could do a role like that and not stink up the theatre too much, was kind of eye-opening.
    • Why are you an actor? Because my fallback plan of being a playwright is even more difficult. Plus, people keep hiring me, so I get to keep on keeping on. At least for now. Well, to be fair, I have a couple other jobs lined up so I won’t have that common feeling when the show closes that, “I’ll never work again.” At least for the next few months. 
    • What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t an actor? My friend Peet said I’d be an excellent aglet salesman. An aglet is that plastic tube fixed tightly to the end of a shoelace. So maybe that. If I got to choose, I’d write for a career. There’s not much better than seeing your play or screenplay come to life. I love rehearsal as an actor, and I love it as a playwright. Watching an actor make something way better than I imagined is almost like a miracle. Of course watching them mess something up is a heartbreak.    
    • Ideal scene partner: It’s hard to pick people you haven’t worked with because, you know, be careful what you wish for... I mean, it would be terrible of I chose Edmund Keen and he turned out to be an impossible, demanding jerk. I have worked with some very talented and generous actors I’d love to work with again. Matthew Boston, Mark Boyett, Jake Paque (real name, it rhymes) spring to mind. Lori Prince is a joy to act with, as are Tasha Lawrence and Garrett Neergaard. These are not famous folks, but colleagues who make going to work rewarding on a whole lot of levels. You know, solid professional, talented actors with not too much baggage, so it’s about working on the work.  
    • Why does The Nest matter? Because it's about desire. And we Americans know all about desire. Maybe, just maybe, we need to figure out how to know that more isn’t better - it’s just more. And that enough will always be enough.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of it? I have no hopes or expectations for a viewer. Audiences are only illuminated by something they already suspect but don’t yet know they know it. That’s what playwrights get to do. They get to word something in a way that has the potential to illuminate something that a listener might be on the cusp of realizing. If they hadn’t heard the line, or seen the performance, sometimes that cusp isn’t breached. Or, at least, I think that might be true. So, without knowing what it is the audience knows or where they are, it’s hard for me to hope for anything. Except maybe the opportunity to make whatever leap they’re ready for. Or something like that.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... for love to win."
    The Nest
  • By Theresa Rebeck
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 21
  • Space Theatre
  • When you have a seat at the bar called The Nest, no conversation is off-limits, whether you’re speaking or eavesdropping. That is, until a stranger walks in with a lucrative proposition. Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck’s plays “may make you laugh or shudder (or both)” according to American Theatre, and with its feisty humor and scorching dialogue, this explosive new comedy holds a cracked mirror up to friendships, romantic relationships and families.
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Nest:

    The Nest flies in face of national gender trends
    Five things we now know about that bar
    Cast list announced
    Theresa Rebeck is not getting angry: She's getting even
    ​American Theatre magazine: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story

    Previous 2015-16 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Meet Adeoye of Lookingglass Alice and All the Way
    Meet Kevin Berntson of The Nest
    Meet J. Paul Boehmer of As You Like It
    Meet Molly Brennan of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Courtney Capek of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Tad Cooley of Tribes
    Meet Allen Dorsey of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Kevin Douglas of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Napoleon M. Douglas of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Isabel Ellison of Tribes
    Meet Kate Finch of Tribes
    Meet Ella Galaty of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Ben Heil of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carolyn Holding of As You Like It
    Meet Drew Horwitz of As You Like It
    Meet Maurice Jones of As You Like It
    Meet Geoffrey Kent of As You Like It and All the Way
    Meet Emily Kron of As You Like It
    Meet Nick LaMedica of As You Like It
    Meet Andrew Pastides of Tribes
    Meet Shannan Steele of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Carly Street of The Nest
    Meet Samuel Taylor of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Lindsey Noel Whiting of Lookingglass Alice
    Meet Jake Williamson  of A Christmas Carol
    Meet Matt Zambrano of As You Like It

  • Video: 'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' performs

    by John Moore | Jul 07, 2015


    The DCPA's second annual year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition culminated June 26 with two fully staged performances of The Tale of the Almighty Sword by Jack Hansen of Arapahoe High School. 

    "Words can't summarize what I have experienced," Hansen said. "It has shown me that what I want to do with my life is endless."

    The program was designed to nurture Colorado high-school student writers, develop new plays and inspire creativity through playwriting. Members of the DCPA Education staff conducted classroom workshops for nearly 3,000 students last fall, which led to 158  one-act play submissions. Of those, 10 were chosen as semifinalists and three were then selected to have their plays workshopped and read by professional actors at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.

    'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' by Jack Hansen. Pictured: Michelle Piccone. Photo by John Moore.At that point, Hansen's play was chosen to be fully performed by DCPA Education summer students in the Conservatory Theatre.

    The Tale of the Almighty Sword is a comedy inspired by Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The action follows a sword crafted by the gods that gets passed on from person to person - emphasis on "passed on." Anyone who touches the sword must carry it until death, and - let's just say Hansen's play comes with a high body count.

    In the video above, DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore show you excerpts from the performances, along with comments from Hansen, Director Steven Cole Hughes and actors Michelle Piccone and Sean Coughlin - both of whom, like Hansen, incidentally also attended Arapahoe High School. (Piccone is pictured above right. Photo by John Moore.)

    "This program allows students to try. It opens their minds to a whole new world of possibilities," said Coughlin.

    Added Hughes: "The film director John Hughes said the teenage voice is the most important voice to be heard. That's why we are doing this."

    Play submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and educational professionals. The three finalists each received a cash scholarship of $250. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists received a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    For more information on the program and how to schedule a workshop in your school in the fall of 2015, click here.

    Our Almighty Sword photo gallery:

    All of our photos are downloadable for free, in a variety of sizes. Simply click "View original Flickr image." All photos by John Moore.


    Video: Student playwriting program featured at 2015 Colorado New Play Summit:




    Almighty Sword cast list
    :

    Written by Jack Hansen
    Avery Dell: The Old Knight
    Nik Velimirovic: Sir Nicholas
    Zoe Fonck: Rubert
    Michelle Piccone: Kaj/Merchant's Wife
    Nicholas Chavez: Christopher/Jaquis
    Matthew Cooper Parone: Merchant
    Maddie Beatty: Thief
    Rachel Sanderson: Narrator
    Sean Coughlin: The Almighty Voice
    Steven Cole Hughes: Director

    Some previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2014-15 Playwriting Competition:
    Video: Highlights of readings from the Colorado New Play Summit
    Three student plays chosen for Colorado New Play Summit readings
    Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative
    Official information page on the DCPA's teen playwriting program

    Meet our 10 talented semifinalists:
  • Divide by Kiana Trippler, ThunderRidge High School
  • Election by Catherine Novotny, Grandview High School
  • Lark’s Mechanics by Kaytlin Camp, Gunnison High School
  • Life According to Mauve by Keely Kritz, Denver School of the Arts
  • Open Mic by Joshua Contreras, Gunnison High School
  • Paper Clips by Christina Arias, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
  • The Suburbs by Kendra Knapp, Valor Christian High School
  • The Tale of the Almighty Sword by Jack Hansen, Arapahoe High School
  • The Window on the Fourth Wall by Ryan McCormick, Fort Collins High School
  • Unspoken by Nathan Mast, Thomas B. Doherty High School

  • The DCPA's Regional High School Playwriting Competition is sponsored by the Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from FirstBank, MarkWest Energy Partners, The Ross Foundation, Stonebridge Companies and June Travis.


    'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' playwright Jack Hansen. Photo by John Moore.'The Tale of the Almighty Sword' playwright Jack Hansen. Photo by John Moore.
  • 'The Kilroys' and gender disparity: Righting a wrong ... right now

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2015
    Tanya Saracho. Tanya Saracho.


    They call it a movement. And they call that movement "a parity raid."

    "The Kilroys" is a new annual survey that identifies new plays by women writers deemed most worthy of full production. The goal is to get more women's voices represented in the American Theatre. That's an issue close to the heart of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, where the Women's Voices Fund has raised more than $1 million to commission and produce new plays by women, as well as to employ female directors, here in Denver.

    How real is the problem? There have only been two Broadway plays written by women in the past two seasons combined. Only about 24 percent of all plays produced across the country this past season were written by a woman, living or dead.

    Nationally, producers have responded to the complaint by saying they do not get enough submissions from female writers.

    Enter "The List," which began as a conversation among 13 female playwrights over cocktails. The impact was immediate. According to The New York Times, of the 46 plays on the inaugural list, 28 have since been produced. The selected plays seemingly were read more frequently by theatre producers, and the playwrights were more sought after, as a result of The List.

    Now, the second annual list has just been released, and it includes Tanya Saracho's FADE, a DCPA Theatre Company commission that will have its world premiere in the Ricketson Theatre next Feb. 5. It will be one centerpiece of the DCPA's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Alejandra Escalante and Eddie Martinez in 'Fade.' Photo by John Moore. Gender disparity was a hot topic at the 2015 Summit in February, when Theresa Rebeck told the DCPA NewsCenter: "Women have been shut out of the storytelling of the American culture on such a profound level for so long – in theatre, in film, and in TV – why wouldn’t we be angry?"

    Rebeck's The Nest will have its world premiere next year in Denver alongside Saracho's FADE, the story of a one-time Mexican-American novelist who is hired to write for a popular weekly TV serial and finds herself out of her depth. It's based on Saracho's own experiences writing for TV.

    "Listen: I got into television because I was a diversity hire,' Saracho said bluntly. "I don't care why I got in there. I just needed an in, because we need to be in there."


    This interview with Tanya Saracho was filmed at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. Saracho's "FADE" was a featured reading, and later was chosen for full production on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2015-16 season. Video by John Moore.


    Saracho is one of The Kilroys' 13 founders. She says "The List" happened pretty organically.

    "A few of us gathered socially, and the conversation turned to gender disparity in the theatre," Saracho told the DCPA NewsCenter. "Someone said, 'We should do something,' but no one knew what 'something' was at first. Then, 13 of us started meeting regularly. Plans and sub-plans were formed. Before we knew what we really were, we were in action."

    One of the first big initiatives was the creation of The List. Organizers surveyed 321 influential new-play leaders — including artistic directors, literary managers, professors, producers, directors and dramaturgs — who had read or seen at least 40 new plays in the past year. The team of 321 nominators identified more than 750 plays by more than 200 female or trans-gendered playwrights written in the past year. From those nominees, the official list of 53 was chosen.

    "It was simple but monumental, and I think it's made the right kinds of waves in the field," Saracho said. "It's affecting change that is tangible in many ways. It's serving to hang a lantern in a new kind of way to this ages-old problem of inequality on the American stage."

    Asked about the nominating team's decision to include her own play on The List, Saracho said: "This is such a tough industry, that gives you comfort to know you have advocates championing your work behind the curtain, you know?"

    For more about the selection process, click here.

    Anyone interested in nominating a new play for consideration on next year's list is encouraged to email thekilroys13@gmail.com.

    To read The List, click here.

    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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.

    More about Tanya Saracho
    Tanya Saracho was born in Sinaloa, México and is a playwright who writes for television. Currently she writes for HBO's  "Looking." Other shows have included Girls and Devious Maids. Plays produced at: 2nd Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman Theater,  Teatro Vista, Teatro Luna, Fountain Theater, Clubbed Thumb, NEXT Theater and 16th Street Theater. Plays include: Hushabye; The Tenth Muse; Song for the Disappeared; EnfrascadaEl Nogalar (inspired by The Cherry Orchard); an musical adaptation of The House on Mango StreetOur Lady of the Underpass ; Kita y Fernanda, and Quita Mitos. Currently in development with/commissioned by:  HBO, Goodman Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Two Rivers Theatre, DCPA Theatre Company, and South Coast Rep.

    About Denver's And Toto Too Theatre Company
    Guest columnist Susan Lyles on Denver's only theatre company dedicated to telling women's stories.


  • Denver playwright Max Posner scores first New York production

    by John Moore | Jun 23, 2015
    Max Posner
    Max Posner. Photo by Evan Smith, used by permission.


    Playwright Max Posner, a graduate of Denver School of the Arts and Brown University, has landed his first New York City stage production, it was announced today by Page 73 Productions

    Posner's Judy will be performed at the New Ohio Theatre, located at 154 Christopher St. in the West Village, from Sept. 1-26. 

    Posner, 26, was the 2012 Playwriting Fellow for Page 73 Productions, and is currently a commissioned playwright for Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan.

    "Page 73 asked me to join their writer's group a few weeks before I moved to New York," Posner said. "I was 22, I didn't have roots, I was used to that big Denver sky, and I couldn't believe how humid it got here. They gave me their fellowship that winter, and I have never been more shocked. It's because of them that I started really calling myself a playwright.

    Cast of 'Judy' by Max Posner with Birgit Huppuch, Deirdre O'Connell and Danny Wolohan at New Ohio Theatre"Since then, they've been an incredible artistic home, following my writing down various strange tunnels, and then bringing it back to the light. The idea of having my first New York production under their watch feels homey and right."

    As a teenager, Posner studied under Moss Kaplan as a playwriting major at Denver School of the Arts, and was also a longtime student of the Curious New Voices young playwrights program under Dee Covington at Denver's Curious Theatre. Posner was named one of The Denver Post's "Can't Miss Kids" in 2006.

    "My money has been on Max for a long time," said Covington. "Curious New Voices is now 12 years old, and so our writers are just now getting old enough to infiltrate the world and start making a significant mark on the American Theatre.

    "We have a series of goals for our writers, and getting a New York production is one of them. So I think this is the first many amazing things to happen to Max and many of our other writers."

    Judy is set in the winter of 2040, and, according to the official play description: "The world has changed - but maybe not by much. Timothy's wife, Judy, has just left him, and he isn't taking it well. His sisters, Tara and Kris, are trying to help him cope while working on their own love lives. The three seem to spend a lot of time in their basements, and the kids are starting to ask questions.

    "Judy is a subterranean comedy about family life when technology fails and communication breaks down."

    Lead casting has been announced, with Birgit Huppuch, Deirdre O'Connell and Danny Wolohan. The director is veteran Ken Rus Schmoll, a two-time Obie-Award winner and Columbia theatre professor who also directed the New York premiere of Grounded, George Brandt's widely praised story of a pregnant American drone pilot - which also debuted in Denver last year in a staging by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at The Avenue Theatre.

    "Ken is a truly rare director, and one I admired from afar over and over again until we met," Posner said. "When I was in college, I saw Didi O'Connell in Circle Mirror Transformation in New York. I had never seen acting so detailed. Now they're teaming up on my play - a play I really thought might never find its proper shape or a good home. So I'm pretty happy and just crossing my fingers that I don't (bleep) this up."

    Posner's plays include The Thing About Air Travel, The Famished, The War on Safety, You Me + The Spiders, and SNORE and other sorts of breathing. His plays have been staged and developed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Colt Coeur, The Hangar Theatre, Curious Theatre Company, The Blank Theatre, Young Playwrights Inc, and Production Workshop. He graduated from Brown University in 2011. He is the recipient of the Weston Award in Playwriting and the 2011 Heideman Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville. 

    The scenic design for Judy will be by Arnulfo Maldonaldo (Generations), lighting design by Eric Southern (Pocatello), sound design by Leah Gelpe (The Invisible Hand) and costume design by Jessica Pabst (The Heidi Chronicles). 

    Tickets for Judy go on sale on in August.


    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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.


    Watch our video interview with Max Posner from May 2015 in New York City. Video by John Moore.
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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.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.