Touchstone Theatre to Host 11th Annual Young Playwrights' Festival in May

Touchstone Theatre presents the eleventh iteration of its acclaimed Young Playwrights' Festival. This showcase of new plays written by local elementary and middle school students performs on May 14th at Zoellner Arts Center's Baker Hall. The full evening includes a preshow party and post-show gala reception in the Lehigh University Black Box Theatre.

"To many loyal supporters of the program, the Young Playwrights' Festival is the most magical night of theatre of the year," says Lou Cinquino, Festival Committee Chair. "And the Gala Reception that follows the performance makes it possible for Touchstone to maintain the Young Playwrights' Lab program-one of the Valley's signature school-based arts education programs."

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 creative self-expression. Through theatre improvisation, writing exercises, and collaborative critique, each student writes an original one-act play. Those plays are then submitted for consideration to be performed in the annual Young Playwrights' Festival. This year, over 130 plays were submitted; five exceptional scripts were chosen for full production in the Festival, and six more were selected to have scenes read as part of the evening's performance. Directed by Touchstone's ensemble of artists, the plays are performed by Touchstone actors, community performers, and students from area schools.

This year's participating Young Playwrights' Lab schools include Calypso Elementary, Farmersville Elementary, Freemansburg Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Lincoln Leadership Academy, Lincoln Elementary, Marvine Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Nitschmann Middle, and South Mountain Middle School.

The evening opens with a preshow "Meet the Playwrights" party with light fare and kid-oriented basket raffles in the Black Box Theatre. The party, which celebrates the 2015-16 program's young playwrights, is included in the Festival ticket and is open to all festival-goers. The student playwrights will be in attendance, as well as the Young Playwrights' Lab teaching artists.

After the performance, the Black Box space shifts gears to house 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 First Generation, an integrated marketing communications company, and RCN. Media sponsorship is provided by WDIY, and print sponsorship is provided by Working Dog Press. Festival Sponsorship is provided by Elek Plumbing, Peak TV, People's Security Bank & Trust, and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

The Eleventh Annual Young Playwrights' Festival takes place on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The preshow "Meet the Playwrights" party begins at 6:00pm in Black Box; theatre doors to Baker Hall open at 6:40pm for the 7:00pm festival performance. Tickets are $10 for the Festival, 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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