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EAT YOUR YOUNG Comes to Boston Playwrights' Theatre Next Month

Performances run October 6-16.

Boston Playwrights' Theatre (BPT) opens its 2022-23 season with Eat Your Young by J.C. Pankratz. Running from October 6-16, the play is directed by Shamus.

Eat Your Young is about four mismatched teens enrolled together in a new-age wilderness therapy program. They quickly realize they must band together to survive-but is the enemy the natural world, the program itself...or something a little more sinister? This funny, magical, chaotic play explores the nature of healing, trans identity, and the defiant power of imagination.

Pankratz says the play has its origins in a few "convergences:" TikTok videos of a queer person reckoning with being employed by a wilderness therapy program; reading survivor testimonies; and Pankratz's own experiences with adults, abuse, gender and sexuality.

"I've been a camper peering suspiciously at the adults around me. I've been a counselor resenting every word that came out of my mouth...never at places like New Frontiers, however!," they say. "I wanted to write about the punitive bleakness of a 'therapeutic' wilderness. I wanted to write about all the little and large ways we manifest violence to change one another. And I wanted to write something hopeful: young people learning that survival can be a community effort, reclaiming their agency, and defeating what threatens to warp them into something unrecognizable."

While three of the four teens in the wilderness program depicted in Eat Your Young are trans, Pankratz emphasizes that none of them are there because of their transness. "I wanted [the characters'] gender identities to impact who they were," they explain, "but not be another conversion therapy-type play where we watch trans kids suffer for being trans. Trans children and adults are always dealing with more than discovering their identities or living with dysphoria."

Pankratz adds that while they hope the play speaks to the trans community, "it's not code. I think there's a place for everybody in terms of watching the play."

Pankratz's other plays include Egg Tooth (distinguished achievement, Jean Kennedy Smith Award), Redeemer Mine (finalist, O'Neill Playwrights Conference) and Joyless Eye (semi-finalist, O'Neill Playwrights Conference; runner-up, Jean Kennedy Smith Award). They are the recipient of the 2021 FMM Fellowship for Works in Heightened Language from Synecdoche Works for their play Seahorse.

Director Shamus is a third-year M.F.A. Directing candidate at Boston University. Recent credits include projects at PlayPenn, the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival and the National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Shamus will direct Jay Eddy's play with music Alligator-a-Phobia in 3D! at BPT in April.

All the plays in BPT's 2022-23 season were written by the Boston University M.F.A. Playwriting Program class of 2023, and will be co-produced with the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre as part of its New Play Initiative.

BPT's season continues in November with Sävë thë Whälës, etc. by David L. Caruso; OTP by Elise Wien (December); Jado Jehad by Fatima A. Maan (February); and Alligator-a-Phobia in 3D! (April), a play with music by Jay Eddy.

BPT's COVID-19 Safety procedures proved to be very effective in keeping audiences and performers safe last season; audiences will be required to wear masks for the duration of their time at the theatre. Up-to-the-minute information regarding performance schedules, COVID-19 protocols and ticketing can be found on the BPT website (www.BostonPlaywrights.org) under Visit Us > COVID-19 Safety.

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