NEWXNW New Play Competition Winners will be Featured in Fertile Ground 2013

NEWXNW New Play Competition Winners will be Featured in Fertile Ground 2013

CoHo Productions announces the winners of its 2012 New By Northwest (NEWXNW) Playwriting Competition - Exit 27 by Aleks Merilo and The Candlestick Maker by Emily Golden, its inaugural student-playwright selection.

This is the 5th year CoHo Productions has sponsored its new play competition but the first year a high school/college-playwright category of competition has been established and awarded. Each winning submission will be presented in a series of two back-to-back staged readings at the CoHo Theatre on Sunday, January 27th and Saturday, February 2nd as part of the 5th Annual Fertile Ground Festival of new works. Debbie Lamedman will direct both plays.

Based on real events, Exit 27 is set in the isolated desert near Colorado City, a town on the Utah-Arizona border and the cradle of Fundamentalist Mormonism. Colorado City is an extreme polygamist society where a man's status is determined by the number of his wives and an on-going surplus of young men in the community threatens this power structure. In recent years, the religious leaders of Colorado City have arbitrarily exiled hundreds of teens to fend for themselves in the outlying desert, thereby creating a population known as "The Lost Boys of Utah".

Ryker, Dodge and Shyler are three such boys who desperately fight for survival in an outside world they have been taught their whole lives is unspeakably dangerous. Foraging for food or finding medical help is a life or death situation and the boys cling to the faint hope that they will someday be welcomed home, despite their "sins". When new boy Brodie appears in the desert, he is welcomed at first but his willingness to interact with a teenage girl from the Outsider group is at odds with Ryker's plan to win the boys' way back home. A product of his upbringing, Ryker contemplates an ultimate evil in order to be considered "good" once again. Exit 27 is a sobering cautionary tale.

Playwright Aleks Merilo wrote Exit 27 based on interviews he conducted with "The Lost Boys of Utah" while employed at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. His Blur in the Rear View won the James Rodgers Playwriting Contest in Lexington, KY and is scheduled to be produced this March by the Fly-By-Night Theatre in North Carolina. New York's Love Creek Productions is scheduled to produce his script of The Widow of Tom's Hill, based on a dark chapter of Pacific Northwest history, this January. Most recently, his play Little Moscow was produced at the Idiom Theatre in Bellingham, WA. Aleks holds a BA in Theatre and an MFA in Playwriting from UCLA. He is a full-time drama teacher living in Portland, OR.

The Candlestick Maker is a story about trust, memory and, above all, greed. Forty years after the tremendous worldwide success of her only novel, Mrs. Mills sets out to write a second. She tells the story of Alice, a former student with whom her life was irrevocably bound. As Alice struggles to come to terms with her mother's new boyfriend and Mrs. Mills with her disintegrating health, they turn to one another for support.

Playwright Emily Golden is a senior at Willamette University, majoring in English and Theatre. A Seattle native, Emily has worked onstage and behind the scenes in a number of theatres across the Northwest, including Seattle Children's Theatre and Seattle Public Theatre. She has previously had plays performed in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, including The E-Words and Star-Crossed, two short plays commissioned for The Theatre Company of Lafayette. In 2011, her play Machine Gun Kathryn was published by Heuer Publishing. Last summer, Emily was an intern at The Berkshire Playwrights Lab in Great Barrington, MA where she helped to workshop several new plays culminating in staged readings.

Director Debbie Lamedman received her MFA in Theatre from Brandeis University and is a member of both the Dramatists Guild and Actor's Equity Association. An author/editor of eight acting books published by Smith and Kraus, Inc., Debbie is also an established playwright whose latest commissioned work Rx, concerning prescription drug abuse among teens, premiered in April 2012. Her most recent directing projects include Ephemory at Headwaters Theatre and The Monologues at the CoHo Theatre.

CoHo Productions' mission is to produce high quality and affordable theater in Portland in an intimate setting under a unique collaborative model we call "co-production". CoHo invites local theater artists to propose plays for production and our Artistic Council, consisting of established Portland artists of all disciplines, selects three shows per season. CoHo provides the venue, funding and marketing support for the show, thereby freeing our co-producers to focus on the artistic and technical aspects in which they excel. CoHo serves the entire Portland metropolitan area, with a particular concentration on our Northwest Portland neighborhood.

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