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Plays by Young Writers 37th Season Re-Scheduled

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The Festival features work by writers ages 13 and younger as staged readings, and works by ages 14-18 as full professional productions.             

Plays by Young Writers 37th Season Re-Scheduled

In response to surge in COVID-19 cases, Playwrights Project is re-scheduling its 37th annual Plays by Young Writers Festival from its originally planned January performances to May 2022.

Playwrights Project wants to provide the safest environment possible for its patrons, artists, staff and the young playwrights whose work is being presented. All in-person events and activities will be conducted in accordance with Playwrights Project's COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines.

Re-scheduling the Festival allows the production to be rehearsed and filmed safely after the Winter COVID-19 surge. Public audiences may view the filmed performance in the format that is most comfortable to them: virtually at home or in-person at the Opening Night Celebration & Screening. On-demand streaming will be available for teachers to share with students along with an Education Packet detailing writing prompts and discussion questions for each play.

Executive Director Cecelia Kouma said, "Re-scheduling the festival is an unfortunate necessity, but the show will go on when conditions do not pose a concern for the safety of our artists and audiences. The themes of these plays resonate with the times, sending strong messages about the need for introspection, finding new paths, and forging meaningful relationships. These themes are especially relevant as we emerge from COVID-19 closures, and these talented writers capture the collective frustration and yearning for connection that we all feel."

The Plays by Young Writers Festival showcases professional productions of new scripts written by youth across California. This year's scripts were written by five young writers between the ages of 13 and 17. Each of these young writers is a winner of Playwrights Project's California Young Playwrights Contest, and their plays will be featured in Playwrights Project's 37th annual Plays by Young Writers Festival, sponsored by the Sheila and Jeffrey Lipinsky Family Fund and Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust. Contest winners were selected from 276 plays submitted by students from across the state. Three scripts will receive full professional productions and one script will receive a staged reading.

All contest submissions were evaluated, void of identifying information, by Rachael VanWormer (Contest Coordinator) and a pool of theatre professionals who volunteered their time and expertise. The top 43 scripts were reviewed by Cecelia Kouma (Executive Producer), who worked with the Contest Coordinator to choose 10 finalists whose plays were evaluated by Final Judges. Final Judges in the selection process included Peter Cirino (Co-Founder of TuYo Theatre and SDSU Theatre faculty), Ahmed Kenyatta Dents (Director of Venue Experience & Artistic Associate at San Diego REP), Josefina López (Award-Winning Playwright & Plays by Young Writers Alumna), Annie Weisman (Award-Winning Playwright & Plays by Young Writers Alumna) and George Yé (Mesa College Theatre faculty & multi-faceted theatre artist). Yé, Kouma, and VanWormer chose the final plays for the season based on the judges' feedback and interviews of the top finalists.

Selection criteria focused on creative ideas, intriguing and authentic characters, original use of language, a story that is revealed through dialogue and action, producibility online, and a script that would benefit from further development in the production process. All contest participants who requested feedback received individualized written critiques.

To ensure the safety of our audience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Playwrights Project has moved the production of Plays by Young Writers online. The actors and artistic team will meet in-person to perform the plays and a video will be created for public viewing. We are pleased to continue this annual tradition as a hybrid virtual event, permitting us the unique opportunity to welcome audience members from San Diego and beyond. Playwrights Project is committed to bringing playwriting programs and quality theatrical productions to all members of our community, including those who may not see themselves as writers or conventional theatregoers. For student audiences, Plays by Young Writers is an inspiring opportunity to experience art written by their peers. Watching what other young people create and communicate through theatre is an empowering experience that leads to additional arts engagement and enhanced academic achievement.

The Festival features work by writers ages 13 and younger as staged readings, and works by ages 14-18 as full professional productions.


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