KC's Coterie Theatre Announces Young Playwrights' Festival, 5/9-10

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It's the Coterie Theatre's favorite time of the year: world premiere readings from some of Kansas City's most talented teen playwrights will be showcased during the Annual Young Playwrights' Festival at 7 p.m. May 9 and 10 at the Coterie Theatre, level 1, Crown Center Shops. Professional actors, directors and designers work to present a collection of seven staged readings, plays and monologues from teen members of the Coterie's Young Playwrights' Roundtable.

The highly creative Roundtable brings together a group of select young adults that meet throughout the year to write and share plays. Members of the Roundtable are invited to join after attending a Reaching the Write Minds workshop, the Coterie's citywide in-school program to identify emerging playwrights.

"I am very passionate about this program and these playwrights, especially this year. Their work is really incredible," said Jeff Church, producing artistic director. "Through my work with the Young Playwrights' Roundtable, I'm able to stay more connected to the Coterie's target audience and get a fascinating insight into the minds of young adults today."

This year's festival will incorporate seven readings in two acts. All are recommended as PG13 and are appropriate for high school students and adults.

Directors for this year's festival are Ashlee LaPine, Todd Lanker, and Taylor St. John. Producer of the festival is Jeff Church. Funding for the Young Playwrights' Festival is provided by the Sprint Foundation and Curry Family Foundation.

Admission to the performances is $5. Tickets can be purchased by phone at (816) 474-6552, online at coterietheatre.org or in person at the Coterie Box Office. During Festival performance days, the Box Office will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m; all seating is general admission with theater doors opening 30 minutes prior to performance.

Following is a list of productions, the playwrights and their schools:

Act I
*Walk It, Feed It, Wash It by Tessia Phillips (BarstowSchool). When a little boy gets everything he wants. Directed by Ashlee LaPine
*Tea Time by Thomas Crowder (WashingtonHigh). Can a customer buy a few quality memories? Directed by Ashlee LaPine
*A Play on Words by Chris Fielder (Rockhurst High). Is it a mind game or a job interview? Directed by Todd Lanker
* Politics of Family Life by Luke Atkison (Truman High). When Jim's presidential campaign becomes complicated by his daughter. Directed by Taylor St. John
* One of Those Flying Dreams by Holden Meier (HomeSchool). Do your dreams guide you, and is it kinda like science class? Directed by Ashlee LaPine

Act II
*The Roundtable Family by Jenny Hughes (Pembroke Hill). Being selected means a lot. Directed by Taylor St. John
*Forsooth! by Connor Foley (Insight School of Kansas) Trapped in a creaky play, ifLydiabreaks the "Fourth Wall," she's doomed. Directed by Todd Lanker

The festival cast includes Tim Ahlenius, Shelley Wyche, Chris Roady, Molly Denninghoff, T. J. Chasteen, Francisco "Pancho" Villegas, Devon Barnes, Melody Butler, Logan Black, Matt Leonard, Nancy Marcy, Aaron Branch, Meagan Seacrest, Daria LeGrand, Katie Hall, Lucas Piercy and Kendall Ryan.

Reaching the Write Minds was established during Church's residency at The Kennedy Center to give a voice to emerging young playwrights. Highly acclaimed for its innovative approach in motivating and encouraging young talent, Church launched Kansas City's Reaching the Write Minds program in 1992. During the Reaching the Write Minds five-hour seminar, students learn to create settings, build characters and, ultimately, devise a scenario for a complete play. Playwright facilitators for 2011-2012 were Nancy Marcy, MeghAnn Henry, Vi Tran, and Nathan Jackson. Selected participants from the Reaching the Write Minds seminars are subsequently invited to become members of the Young Playwrights' Roundtable.

Lauded because the program is a series of interactive working sessions, not a contest, the Young Playwrights' Roundtable stimulates young writers through their instruction via a mentoring approach between Church and peer members of the Roundtable. Members meet throughout the school year. Once students are selected, they remain members of the Roundtable until they graduate from high school.

Members of the 2011-12 Young Playwrights Roundtable: Luke Atkison (Truman High), Dillon Cherry (Grandview High), Thomas Crowder (Washington High), Anna Danciger (Shawnee Mission East High), Sam Danley (Platte County High), Aaron Dupuis (Barstow School), Danielle Fay (Washington High), Chris Fielder (Rockhurst High),Will Fleming (Barstow School),Connor Foley(Insight School of Kansas), Audrey Gleason (Shawnee Mission Northwest High), Samantha Harms (Lansing High), Jenny Hughes (Pembroke Hill), Jonah Jaax (Barstow School), Carolina Mach (Shawnee Mission Northwest High), Holden Meier (Home School), Casha Mills (Shawnee Mission North High), Jessica Oeser(Lansing High), Tessia Phillips (Barstow School), Sophia Porter (Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy), Sophie Ross (Trailridge Middle), Brittany Rum (Truman High), Annie Salas (Wyandotte High), Gabriella Sonnenschein(Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy), Omri Taylor (Grandview High), Erin Waterhouse (Truman High), Emma Welch (Bishop Miege), Megan Wonsmos (J.C. Harmon High).

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