Steampunk Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of OCSA's Creative Writing Conservatory

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Steampunk Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of OCSA's Creative Writing Conservatory

The Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Creative Writing Conservatory commemorates its 20th anniversary with "20/20/20: Legends of Steampunk," a month-long festival dedicated to the special vision of James P. Blaylock and Tim Powers.

Recognized as fathers of the steampunk genre in literature, Blaylock and Powers also left a mark as the founders of the Creative Writing Conservatory at OCSA. Aligning with OCSA's 20th anniversary at its campus in Santa Ana, the festival features 20 collaborative events involving students from across 13 conservatories including acting, classical voice, dance, musical theatre, production and design, and digital media.

"The cross-collaborative nature of the festival ties together so many of the artistic threads this school has brought into being. We have tried to highlight the broad spectrum of arts here in ways that are aesthetically pleasing, original and still rooted in the creative writing experience," said Josh Wood, director of the Creative Writing Conservatory.

Guest authors appearing at the festival include Karen Joy Fowler ("The Jane Austen Book Club," "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves"), Garrett Calcaterra ("Dreamwielder"), Kristen-Paige Madonia ("Invisible Fault Lines"), Sarah Nicole Smetana ("The Midnights") and Lewis Shiner ("Dark Tangos"). These established and emerging authors give panel discussions and master classes to OCSA students, discussing the craft of writing, the path of a writer, writing habits, as well as sections of their books.

Events take place across venues in Orange County through partnerships with Chapman University, Cal State University Fullerton and The Frida Cinema in Downtown Santa Ana. The festival also celebrates the success of the school's expansion and opening of its second school, California School of the Arts - San Gabriel Valley (CSArts-SGV), which also offers a Creative Writing Conservatory led by Blaylock's son, John Blaylock.

"OCSA has such a unique high school experience - a really healthy, revolutionizing one in many respects. '20/20/20' is an opportunity to pass the torch from our campus to our regional campus. The first event of this festival is here at OCSA, where we began, and the final event is at CSArts-SGV to light the fire of the future," said Wood.

The public is invited to attend many of the "20/20/20: Legends of Steampunk" events. Highlights include:

Immersive Dramatic Reading: The month-long festival kicks off with an exciting dramatic reading of selections of Blaylock and Powers' award-winning writing. Creative writing students read the selections, as costumed acting students circulate the crowd. This free event takes place on OCSA's campus in the Michael F. Harrah Symphony Hall on Feb. 4, and is sponsored by The Malo Family.

Book Art Gallery: The award-winning novels and stories of Blaylock and Powers receive new cover art and interior scenes from OCSA and CSArts-SGV visual arts students and OCSA digital media students. The artwork is on display throughout the month of February in OCSA's Michael F. Harrah Symphony Hall and at Chapman University's Leatherby Libraries.

"The Arc of Space" Spoken Word Performance: On Feb. 8, Chapman University's Hilbert Museum hosts current OCSA students, faculty and alumni for an evening of spoken word poetry interwoven around the subject of space. The show is set to a video installation produced by OCSA's Digital Media Conservatory students. A performance by Nightjars, the musical project of OCSA graduate Adrian Jade Matias Bell, opens the evening. This event is sponsored by The Miles Family.

"Alternative Earths" Dance Performance: The Creative Writing Conservatory and School of Dance present an incredible collaboration of spoken word and interpretive dance. Creative writing students perform a reading depicting alternative worlds as dancers from the Commercial Dance and Classical and Contemporary Dance conservatories interpret the stories through movement. "Alternative Earths" takes place Feb. 6 at OCSA's Michael F. Harrah Symphony Hall.

A Master Class with Karen Joy Fowler: PEN/Faulkner award-winning author Karen Joy Fowler ("The Jane Austen Book Club") visits Creative Writing Conservatory students to discuss her career as a popular novelist. This master class is also being held as part of the school's annual Master Artist Series, which brings distinguished artists and industry professionals to campus to work with OCSA students. The class takes place Feb. 20 (closed to the public).

"Peter & the Starcatcher": The Musical Theatre Conservatory presents its rendition of the Tony Award-winning production of "Peter & the Starcatcher," a unique interpretation of Peter Pan's origin story. "Peter & the Starcatcher" takes place Feb. 27-29 in OCSA's Margaret A. Webb Theatre.

"The Automation Girl" Classical Voice Show: Singers from the Classical Voice Conservatory perform vocal works to accompany a story written by the Creative Writing Conservatory about a romance on an airship between a robotic girl and a human boy.

Grand Finale and Birthday Bash!: Students reprise many of the festival's incredible performances, and Creative Writing Conservatory alumnus and professional Magician Nathaan Phan performs. Wrapped up in a birthday celebration for festival honoree and Leap Year baby Tim Powers who turns "17," the finale event takes place at CSArts-SGV on Feb. 29.

For a full list of events visit Tickets will be available soon at

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