Penobscot Theatre Company Announces Young Playwrights Festival
Penobscot Theatre Company's Dramatic Academy has announced Northern Writes Junior, a playwriting contest for Maine youths ages 4-18. Winning entries will receive full productions via a weekend festival in the Spring as part of the Dramatic Academy 20/21 season. No experience is necessary to submit a play.
Interested youth are challenged to write and submit a short play, between two and ten minutes in length by September 1, 2020. Approximately 15 scripts will be chosen to be professionally guided through revisions and will eventually receive full performances with scenery, lights, costumes and sound in March of 2021.
Director of Education, Ben Layman says, "For homebound youth, playwriting can offer an outlet not only to digest the realities of events in the physical world, but also to make sense of what is going on inside of their imaginative worlds. By putting value on what may be going on in a young person's head by asking them to document it, on paper, no matter how elaborate or fantastical their thoughts may be, can be, in itself a very cathartic and powerful experience. In truth, these plays will be cathartic not only for the playwrights and youth performers, but for the entire community as we process and heal from the current emergency."
Selected entries will receive a series of playwriting intensives this Fall, conducted online by playwright, Travis Baker. Rehearsals for the festival will begin in January and will culminate in a March weekend festival. Playwrights will not be required, but will be welcome, to attend rehearsals. In this way, the theatre company is hoping to receive entries from all over the state and from youths of all ages.
Penobscot Theatre Company's popular adult Northern Writes New Play Festivals ran from 2008-2013 and culminated in weekends of play readings. Under the leadership of Bari Newport, Penobscot Theatre Company refocused its play development from readings to full productions and has since developed a number of new plays including Baker's One Blue Tarp and Hair Frenzy.
"As a regional theatre, our mission, first and foremost, is to serve the community, not only as a place of entertainment but as a place of civic engagement," says Newport. "With the necessary suspension of Penobscot Theatre Company's spring and summer Dramatic Academies we saw an opportunity and a responsibility to offer space for young people to express themselves while giving value to their experiences."
The deadline for submissions is September 1. Submissions should include the playwright's full name, age, school, town, phone number and the name and email address of a parent or guardian. Submissions and questions can be directed to Ben Layman, Director of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.