Fresh Young Talent Will Shine in City Theatre Company's Young Playwrights Festival, 10/5-6
In a few short weeks, the curtain will rise on a whole new generation of local talent at City Theatre Company's annual Young Playwrights Festival.
City Theatre's distinctive endeavor to nurture young talent provides middle and high school-age playwrights with the rare opportunity to see their work fully realized on a professional scale. Over several months, selected participants develop their submitted scripts in cooperation with a team of professional theatre artists, including actors, a director, and dramaturg. The plays ultimately come to life on City Theatre's Hamburg Studio Theatre stage in a capstone set of showings open to the general public.
This year, the festival is set to showcase work from eight budding young playwrights from the Pittsburgh area chosen from an initial pool of more than 200 submissions. The high school division features Dial Tone by Mayah El-Dehaibi, Flicker by Shea Minter, and Tame (This Monkey's Gone to Heaven) by Tyler Hudson; the middle school division includes The Amazon: Race to the Cure by Honesty and Hope LeGrande, Deck the Halls by Lil Buchanan, and What Are the Odds? by Ariana Distler and Alayna Perrine.
BroadwayWorld Pittsburgh recently spoke with two of this year's high school participants, Tyler Hudson and Shea Minter, about their respective plays.
NAME: Tyler Hudson
SCHOOL: Pittsburgh CAPA (Creative And Performing Arts)
HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, PA
PLAY: Tame (This Monkey's Gone to Heaven)
Tame is a satirical black comedy about a radio show of the future used by entertainment conglomerate CannonCorp in an attempt to breed the perfect consumer.
Hudson says his primary inspiration from the play came from watching the film Batman and Robin with a friend. "That movie is so trapped in its own gimmicks that it's basically a two-hour live-action toy commercial. Stuff like this gets made because too many people don't want art that challenges them, and there's nothing to learn from it," he perceptively notes. "Of course, Batman and Robin is widely acknowledged as a terrible movie...but are today's 'good' movies any better? Why do we care more about sequels than about new vision? American popular culture, at least at its most accessible levels, has devolved into bread and circuses. That leaves artists like myself in a very precarious position."
As he goes on to urge, "We need to realize what happens when we make the dissemination of art and ideas more about buying and selling than about reaching people on a deep level. We're too comfortable. We need to take responsibility for seeking out what truly inspires us rather than allowing those choices to be made for us."
NAME: Shea Minter
SCHOOL: Shady Side Academy
HOMETOWN: New Kensington, PA
Flicker is about a high school age girl, Lucy, who is struggling with mental illness that warps her perspective of her friends and the world around her. Through the course of the play, a school project starts to change her life.
Minter's inspiration for the piece came from "numerous people close to [her] who have either talked about the issue of depression and how it alters your thoughts and feelings, or have faced it."
"If audiences take anything from the play," she says, "I hope it would be that depression is truly an illness, and affects your life and thought patterns."
Hudson has previously written two one-act plays prior to submitting Tame for consideration in the 2013 Young Playwrights Festival, while Flicker is Minter's first foray into playwriting. Both Hudson and Minter agree, however, that working with the dramaturg has been the best part of the Festival experience thus far. Shea's dramaturg, Jeanne, helped her to "[answer] difficult questions about meaning and significance that [she] didn't even know [she] knew." The process has been a "whirlwind, in the best way possible" for the 16-year-old New Kensington native because "it's been amazing to see people dedicate so much time and energy to cultivating work written by middle and high schoolers."