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BWW Interview: Finalists for THE GROWING STAGE Playwrighting Festival for Young Writers

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Interview: Finalists for THE GROWING STAGE Playwrighting Festival

BWW Interview: Finalists for THE GROWING STAGE Playwrighting Festival for Young Writers

The Growing Stage, The Children's Theatre of New Jersey located at the Historic Palace Theatre has announced four finalists for the inaugural Playwrighting Festival for Young Writers. The writers will be showcasing their new plays on Saturday, September 18 at 4:00 pm in person at the Historic Palace Theatre. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the effects on the arts community, The Growing Stage is thrilled to provide this opportunity for young writers and their audiences.

Executive Director Stephen L. Fredericks stated, "The power within the theatre arts is vital in not only how it creatively shares the ideas of others, but also in how it heals and offers an opportunity to view the world through another's experience. The Young Writer's Festival provides a chance for young people to share and to further develop their talents as emerging artists and to give voice to a generation ready to be heard."

BWW Interview: Finalists for THE GROWING STAGE Playwrighting Festival for Young Writers

We were able to ask each of the four finalists, Violet Baker, Maya Abraham, Maxine Ting, and Alethea Shirilan-Howlett about the inspiration for their plays and how it felt to be selected.

Red by Violet Baker (Age 12), Directed by Jessica Stanzek

What has been your inspiration to be a playwright?

My play; Red, takes place in the late 1800s and everything about that time period has always inspired me. From the fashion to the architecture I've always really enjoyed learning about it. It also takes place in a finishing school and I've always found those very mysterious, especially since everyone wanted to go, but some of the things they did there were torturous. What inspired me to be a playwright is probably that I always loved writing stories and poetry so when I saw this I thought Why not? It's been really fun too and a lot of the things I've learned have inspired me to look at my writing from a different perspective.

Being selected for the Playwriting Festival for Young Writers is quite an honor. Tell us how you feel about the experience.

Thank you! I wasn't expecting it, honestly I only found out about it the night the first round was due. And I just had this idea and I decided to go for it and then it turned out I'd won and I was so surprised! I'm so happy what I've written gets to be performed on stage in a way I haven't seen before. To have actual actors and actresses and props and to be able to see it with a spin on it I never imagined.

Wasting Earth Minutes by Maya Abraham (Age 14), Directed by Jillian Petrie

What has been your inspiration to be a playwright?

I always have wanted to be a writer on Saturday Night Live. Especially after becoming OBSESSED with Tina Fey ( seriously- huge fan). On top of that I always really love creative writing projects at school and jotting down little "ideas" on my phone as they pop into my head.

Being selected for the Playwriting Festival for Young Writers is quite an honor. Tell us how you feel about the experience.

Being a winner of this competition really motivates me to keep writing and working on new ideas. This is especially so because a lot of the skit or play ideas I come up with are a bit strange or just kinda unusual (an alien at target for example) and this makes me realize that even if it's weird, it can still be funny and an audience can still appreciate it!

Dear Future Self by Maxine Ting (Age 16), Directed by Jeorgi Smith

What has been your inspiration to be a playwright?

My inspiration was reading scripts for plays and seeing that you can tell a story with dialogue and you are able to create something and also watching film panels and seeing the writer of their film talk about their experience creating their story.

Being selected for the Playwriting Festival for Young Writers is quite an honor. Tell us how you feel about the experience.

I feel very happy and respected because I wrote something that got selected and to be a part of the whole process of meeting directors and other playwrights with experience and having them talk about their career and having them mentor me has given me a lot of information about playwriting as a whole and I've come out of this process with many new ideas as to what I'll do next.

No Exodus by Alethea Shirilan-Howlett (Age 18), Directed by Dennis S. Connors

What has been your inspiration to be a playwright?

When I was really little, my dad and I used to make claymation movies and write little scenes. He would take me to Starbucks and while he did work, I would write little dialogues in my notebook. We called it "Writer's Workshop". I've always had a really active imagination and everywhere I look, fragments of scenes begin to spin rapidly in my head. Additionally, as someone who is neurodiverse, scripting has always come in handy when I'm ordering food, or answering a question in class-- I feel much more comfortable writing out my dialogue before I speak, thus, I feel that dialogue seems to come really naturally when I'm writing it out on the page. I had always loved creative writing for these reasons. It's a nostalgic and comforting practice, and playwriting is my favorite form to work in because of its use of planned dialogue and stage directions.

Being selected for the Playwriting Festival for Young Writers is quite an honor. Tell us how you feel about the experience.

It's so wonderful to work with professionals and meet new people who love theatre as much as I do. Getting to work with my mentor and director to polish my play is not only really fun, but I feel that I've learned so much from them in the process. With everyone I've met, I really do hope I get the chance to work with each of them again. They have so much great insight and advice, and they're amazing people to work with.

Tickets are $10 per person and available for purchase by visiting https://growingstage.com/ or calling the Box Office at (973) 347-4946. Please note that masks are required for all ticket holders regardless of vaccination status.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Growing Stage


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