13th Annual Young Playwrights' Festival & Gala Premieres New Work By Local Youth

Touchstone Theatre proudly presents the thirteenth year of its acclaimed Young Playwrights' Festival. This showcase of new plays written by local elementary, middle, and high school students performs on May 12th at Zoellner Arts Center's Baker Hall. The evening concludes with a post-show gala reception in the Lehigh University Black Box Theatre.

Young Playwrights' Lab is an eight-week arts and literacy residency developed by Touchstone and the Bethlehem Area School District using theatre as a "Trojan Horse" to improve student attitudes toward writing and to provide a platform for creative self-expression. Through theatre improvisation, writing exercises, and collaborative critique, each student writes an original one-act play to be considered for performance in the annual Young Playwrights' Festival. The plays that emerge are a rich indicator of the wide variety and depth of their imaginings. This year's plays deal with everything from fanciful dreams of robotic animals to war veterans dealing with PTSD.

Over 100 plays were submitted from this year's programs with five exceptional scripts chosen for full production in the Festival: The Chicago Deal, by David Rosado of Casa Guadalupe Center; Cinderella by Carol-Lynn Charlemagne of Harrison Morton Middle School; A.B.H.D.R. by Payton Shaffer of Liberty High School; Damaged by Justin Brooks-Miller of Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School; and John and the Lion Man by Nate Bowers of Farmersville Elementary. Select scenes from three semi-finalist plays will be performed by the Touchstone Ensemble and teaching artists: The Queen and the Unicorn by Angelique Jorge of Lincoln Elementary, Mermaid Wants a New Family by Daron Roberson of Freemansburg Elementary, and Blob and Rob: The Lost Backpack by Cristian Mendez of Donegan Elementary. Directed by Touchstone's ensemble of artists, the plays are performed by Touchstone actors, community performers, and students from area schools.

"For the past thirteen years, the Young Playwrights' Festival has stood apart from any other local stage performance, bar none. There's simply no other night that shines the spotlight on literary and theatrical expression the way this evening does," says Louis Cinquino, Festival Committee Chair. "And the Gala Reception that follows the performance is a big reason why Touchstone has been able to maintain and expand the Young Playwrights' Lab program in the Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and other school districts. Until you've attended this festival, you haven't really seen the Lehigh Valley at its best."

After the performance, Zoellner's Black Box Theatre hosts the Festival's ticketed gala dessert reception and auction. Gala attendees get a chance to mingle with the Touchstone Ensemble and enjoy sumptuous desserts, an open bar, and live music while further supporting Touchstone and its arts-in-education programming through a live and silent auction.

Touchstone's season is sponsored by RCN. Media sponsorship is provided by WDIY, and print sponsorship is provided by Working Dog Press.

The Young Playwrights' Lab program is gratefully supported through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program by: Avalon, BB&T Bank, Embassy Bank, Lafayette Ambassador Bank, and Peoples Security Bank and Trust, and by the following local corporations and foundations: Air Products and Chemicals Foundation, Bethlehem Rotary Foundation, The Century Fund, Charles H. Hoch Foundation, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, and Rider-Pool Foundation. The program is also generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

The Thirteenth Annual Young Playwrights' Festival & Gala takes place on Saturday, May 12, 2018. Theatre doors to Baker Hall open at 6:40pm for the 7:00pm festival performance; the Gala follows directly after the Festival until 10:30pm. Festival tickets are $10 for students, $15 for adults, and $75 for the Festival and Gala. Advance tickets may be purchased at 610-867-1689 or online at www.touchstone.org

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