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Pegasus Players Present The Young Playwrights Festival 1/7-31/2010


Pegasus Players will kick off the New Year with its 24th Annual Young Playwrights Festival, a professional production of three winning one-act plays written by Chicago high school students. This year's production will be performed at Pegasus Players, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue in the O'Rourke Center at Truman College, Chicago, January 7-31, 2010. The official Opening Night Ceremony is Monday, January 11, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.

An annual Chicago tradition and the oldest of its kind in the country, Young Playwrights Festival (YPF) is a 16-month-long cycle of workshops, performances and special programs. This year, YPF received over 800 plays written by teenagers throughout Chicago, marking a record number of submissions. YPF showcases the next generation of playwrights, encouraging the development of independent, high-level thinking and enhancing an appreciation of reading, writing and cultural diversity.

"Through YPF, Pegasus Players promotes playwriting to develop a new generation of writers and theatre-goers for the stage," said Ilesa Duncan, Festival Director. "This program is about the written word, which is the foundation of theatre. It gives students an opportunity to have a professional experience as a playwright-an apprenticeship, if you will-to hone their ideas and their creativity. The students learn the power of theatre and how it can convey emotion, history and culture, connecting people in real and powerful ways. Every year is a unique chance to see these fresh minds find their voice and grow as young artists."

The three winning students receive $500, a full production of their scripts, and a professional playwriting mentor to work with them during pre-production. Seven finalists will each receive $100, and all those in the final round, including winners, finalists, and ten Honorable Mentions, will receive plaques commemorating their participation in YPF. These students will all be honored at the Opening Night Ceremony. This year's winners are Gabriella Bonamici, Kat Blackburn and GixiAng Lee, who come from three different schools across Chicago. This year's directors are Duncan, Kimberly Senior and Edward Torres, and this year's mentors are Andrew Hinderaker, Mia McCullough and Marisa Wegrzyn.

About the YPF Winners

Gabriella Bonamici - The Nowhere People
Whitney Young High School
Teacher: Jim English
Directed by Kimberly Senior, mentored by Andrew Hinderaker
Synopsis: The Nowhere People follows Ernie, who moves into a new building following the death of his wife. His next door neighbor is obsessed with building a machine to catch the ghosts living in her pantry and send them back to the other world, and Ernie soon gets caught up in her quest.

GixiAng Lee - Roller Coaster
Northside College Prep
Teacher: Ebykepreye Porri
Directed by Edward Torres, mentored by Marisa Wegrzyn
Synopsis: Strangers Effie and Milo are stuck at the top of a rollercoaster. As it becomes clear the repairs are painfully slow, they embark on a topsy-turvy battle of wits, discovering they have more in common than expected.

Kat Blackburn - deliver me from evil
Lincoln Park High School
Teacher: Bart Hanson
Directed by Ilesa Duncan, mentored by Mia McCullough
Synopsis: A young woman named Magdelina journeys through a poetic fever-dream as she struggles to reclaim herself after a fifth hospitalization. Her therapist attempts to navigate through her emotional minefield, rife with crises of self-injury, sexual orientation and abuse.

About the Directors

Ilesa Duncan (deliver me from evil) has overseen the past four Young Playwrights Festivals, working in 45 Chicago schools and receiving 3,000 plays in competition, as well as directing Dine N Hash (YPF 2009), Blooming Flowers in Weeds (YPF 2008), In Your Dreams (YPF 2007) and Grace (YPF 2006). As a director, she has worked in Chicago with Victory Gardens, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Rivendell, Estrogen Fest, Writer's Theatre, Arena Stage, and the ALLIANCE THEATRE. Most recent credits include Hope VI (Chicago Dramatists), The Shape of a Girl (Pegasus Players), and A Clockwork Orange (The Theatre School/DePaul). In addition, direction for Pegasus' mainstage includes Jeff nominated tick, tick BOOM as well as Heatwave, Breath, Boom, and Ev'ry Time I Feel The Spirit. Duncan directed Jeff award-winning productions of Love Child (Theater on the Lake, Chicago Theater Co., and Live Bait Theater), Shakin The Mess Outta Misery and Do Lord Remember Me (Chicago Theater Co.). A member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director's Lab and Chicago Director's Lab, Duncan is a recipient of a NEA/TCG Directing Fellowship.

Kimberly Senior (The Nowhere People) returns to Pegasus having directed Where We Have Been (YPF 2009). Senior has worked professionally in Chicago for the past 14 years, where most recently she directed All My Sons (TimeLine Theatre) and The Pillowman (RedTwist). She is an Artistic Associate with Next, where she directed the midwest premiere of J.T. Rogers' The Overwhelming and Keith Bunin's The Busy World is Hushed. She has directed for Adventure Stage Chicago, Estrogen Fest, Rivendell, Shakespeare's Motley Crew and Northlight Theatre, among others. She is the founder and company member emeritus of Collaboraction Theatre Company, where she directed and/or produced over 30 plays and theatrical experiences, most notably the company's lauded Sketchbook festival for seven years. She is the recipient of the 2001 Mercedes Mentor Award and was named one of the top 5 Chicago directors by New City in 2001.

Edward Torres (Roller Coaster) is a Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Teatro Vista. Directorial credits for Teatro Vista include: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (co-produced with Victory Gardens), The Show Host, (also with Victory Gardens and at Theatre on the Lake), Ambrosio, Broken Eggs (Theatre on the Lake), The Boiler Room co-produced with Steppenwolf Student Exchange Program (also at Theatre on the Lake) and the critically acclaimed production of Aurora's Motive. Other directorial credits include Jeff Recommended productions of Cocks have Claws and Wings to Fly and Lolita de Lares at Latino Chicago Theatre Company. Acting credits for Teatro Vista include: The Crossing, Broken Eggs, Santos & Santos and El Paso Blue. Other acting credits include work for the Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Latino Chicago Theatre, Next Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, Live Bait, and Court Theatre. Torres is also a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre's Director's Lab West.

About the Mentors

Andrew Hineraker's (The Nowhere People) notable recognitions include Finalist/Semi-Finalist status at Sundance, PlayLabs, The Princess Grace Award, the Heideman Award and the Austin Film Festival. His plays have received readings or productions in New York, Los Angeles and his hometown of Chicago, at such theaters as Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists, the side project, and Stage Left. His play, Suicide, Incorporated, was developed at the 2008 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference and will receive its World Premiere Production at Chicago's Gift Theatre in April 2010. On the basis of this play, Hinderaker has been nominated for the 2010 Otis Guernsey New Voice in American Playwriting Award, sponsored by the William Inge Center for the Arts. Hinderaker is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists.

Mia McCullough (deliver me from evil) has been produced in Chicago at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Stage Left Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, and around the country at theaters that include Actors' Express in Atlanta, InterAct in Philadelphia, Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company in San Diego, the Victory Theatre in Los Angeles, and Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival. Her break-through play Chagrin Falls garnered many awards including the American Theatre Critics Association Osborn Award, first prize in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition, and a Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work. Her play Since Africa was commissioned by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and a nominee for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play. McCullough is currently adjunct faculty at Northwestern University where she teaches playwriting and screenwriting to students in the Creative Writing for the Media program. She is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, an Affiliate Artist at Chicago's American Theatre Company, and a member of the Dramatists Guild. In October 2009, her newest play Lucinda's Bed received a full production at Chicago Dramatists.

Marisa Wegrzyn's (Roller Coaster) plays include Killing Women, Psalms of a Questionable Nature, Ten Cent Night, Hickorydickory, The Butcher of Baraboo and Diversey Harbor. Theaters that have presented her work include Washington University in St Louis, Eckerd College, WordBRIDGE, Geva Theatre, The Magic Theatre, Lucid by Proxy, Baltimore CenterStage, The Hourglass Group, Rivendell Theatre and Theatre Seven. The Butcher of Baraboo was produced in Steppenwolf Theatre's First Look Repertory in 2006 and premiered Off-Broadway at Second Stage in 2007. She is currently working on commissions for Steppenwolf Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Yale Repertory Theatre. Wegrzyn is a founding member and resident playwright of Theatre Seven of Chicago. Ten Cent Night was produced at Chicago Dramatists in 2009, where Wegrzyn is also a Resident Playwright. In November, 2009, Wegrzyn was awarded the Wasserstein Prize, an annual award for female playwrights.

Performances and Ticket Information

The 24th Annual Young Playwrights Festival will be held January 7-31, 2010. Previews will be Thursday, January 7 through Sunday, January 10. The official Opening Night Ceremony is Monday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m. Performances will be Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at Pegasus Players, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue in the O'Rourke Center at Truman College, Chicago. Tickets are $15, with student and senior discounts available, and may be purchased by calling (773) 878-9761 or online at

The 24th Annual Young Playwrights Festival is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, CityArts2 and the Cultural Outreach Program Grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs.

About Pegasus Players

For 31 years Pegasus Players has been committed to providing high quality, socially-conscious theatrical programming to the people of Chicago, especially those who have limited access to the arts. Pegasus Players is committed to presenting new and contemporary work that crosses cultural, social, and geographical boundaries and brings communities together by presenting works that provoke conversation. Through programs such as its annual Young Playwrights Festival and international tours of its productions, Pegasus Players has touched the hearts, minds and futures of thousands of people throughout Chicago and around the world. Pegasus Players has received 79 Joseph Jefferson Citations, more than any other theater in its category.

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