PlayGround Announces Winners of This Year's Young Playwrights Contest

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PlayGround has announced the winners of this year's Young Playwrights Contest. The venerated playwright incubator will debut the four selected short plays by Bay Area teen playwrights, performed live online by professional actors, June 12th at 8PM PT as part of its innovative PlayGround Zoom Fest.

The nation's largest livestreamed new works festival, Playground Zoom Fest features 50+ plays, readings, films, shorts, panels and more, streamed over Zoom now through June 14. The four finalist works cover topics including toilet paper hoarding, rainforest threats, coming out during a family dinner, and mythological high-stakes chess, in 'Safe Way' by Sarah Schecter, 'If Only We Were Humen' by Tiffany Liu, 'American Dinner' by Leela Kiyawat, and 'Aren't You Clever?' by Katherine Ioffe. For the first time, all four short plays will be presented in one evening of theater, with these timely and insightful works presented live via Zoom to audiences free of charge (advance reservations required). For more information and to reserve tickets, visit https://playground-sf.org/zoomfest.

Competitively selected from open submissions, this presentation comes as the culminating finale of the 12th Annual Howard & Lenore Klein Foundation Young Playwrights Project which champions bold new playwrights drawn from Bay Area high schools and provides radical accessibility to schools and students to see PlayGround presentations free or at deeply discounted rates. Through the Lenore & Howard Klein Foundation PlayGround Young Playwrights Project, PlayGround and Bay Area high schools partner to enable young writers to find their own expressive voice through the creation, development, and production of short plays. Each year, Bay Area high school students grades 9-12 are invited to submit short plays for consideration in the Young Playwrights Contest. The top four playwrights receive professional public staged readings of their winning short works as part of the Best of PlayGround Festival.

PlayGround offers Bay Area high school students free and significantly discounted student group tickets to its Monday Night PlayGround series at Berkeley Rep and PlayGround public programming at Potrero Stage, including the PlayGround Solo Performance Festival, PlayGround Festival of New Works, and the PlayGround Innovators Showcase, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's first-ever PlayGround Zoom Fest.

SAFE WAY by Sarah Schecter

In a world where that fiftieth roll of toilet paper means more to someone than common courtesies, a grocery store hosts a delightful childhood game of "cooties" with four adult players.

IF ONLY WE WERE HUMEN by Tiffany Liu

A pair of ocelots awaken to a new threat in their rainforest paradise. Will anyone listen to their cry for help?

AMERICAN DINNER by Leela Kiyawat

An uncomfortable dinner after a young man's 'coming out' will test family ties and John Donne's adage, "No man is an island."

AREN'T YOU CLEVER? by Katherine Ioffe

The stakes in this mythological chess game are life or death. In this battle between brains and empathy, may the cleverest win.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS

Katherine Ioffe (Aren't You Clever?) is a sophomore at Design Tech High School. From a young age, Katherine has held a passion for storytelling. As a child, she spent all her spare time in the school library, and quickly developed a love for stories. At the age of seven, she became a published author, when she co-wrote and published a comedic illustrated novel with her twin sister, Journal of a Cat, and at the request of the readers, co-wrote the sequel Journal of a Mouse, which was published the following year. In the third grade, the school librarian noticed her writing a short story, and invited a shy Katherine to read the completed story to a lively group of visiting kindergarteners, who loved the story so much that they immediately requested a sequel. In the fourth grade when the school playground was vandalized, she was aghast to find out that her school had no newspaper to report on the event. Ever the entrepreneur, she promptly gathered a team, approached the principal and pitched the idea directly, and soon after started and distributed the school's first newspaper. In middle school, she leaned into her entrepreneurial inclinations and founded and ran two businesses, in the latter of which she invented and sold a line of children's electronic toys. She has presented at the 13th annual Bay Area Maker Faire. In her freshman year of high school, she interned with the Stanford electrical engineering department after she cold called and convinced them to give her an internship. Katherine has always held a love for science fiction and fantasy, but Doctor Who holds a special place in her heart as it inspired her to pursue writing. She is founder and president of the Design Tech Doctor Who fan club, a club for fellow Whovians to discuss and analyze every story and aspect of Doctor Who, which proved so popular that students from other high schools have become regular members. In 2017, her animated short film "Mr. Doodle" won third place in the San Mateo County Library 72 Hours Movie Making Challenge. Doctor Who fanatic, she recently wrote a short story for the Cosmic Masque set in the world of Doctor Who, to be published later this year, titled "Dalek Who?", which showcases and takes an introspective look at one of the show's greatest villains. "Aren't You Clever?" is Katherine's first stage play.

Leela Kiyawat (American Dinner) is an incoming senior at Oakland School for the Arts, where she studies in the Playwriting and Production program. Her past work includes Fiddler on the Roof with Berkeley Playhouse, and Footloose, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Broadway on Broadway with Oakland School for the Arts. She recently wrote the script for and directed a thirty-minute adaptation of Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day, which was produced on the Ashby Stage. Leela was also the Education Director for Bay Area Zeta Players, a teen run theater company.

Tiffany Liu (If Only We Were Humen) is a student at Cupertino High School, an actress in Cupertino Actors' Theater, and a captain of her school's comedy improvisation team. Some of her recent roles include Mrs. Peacock from Clue, Jill from Radiant Vermin, and Carly from Ranked, The Musical. At the Lenaea Festival competition in February 2020, she placed Gold in Duo Scenes and Silver in Monologues. She was also chosen as one of eight students to perform her monologue as a command performance for over 1,000 participants from 72 schools at the festival. Tiffany finds theater evocative, comforting, risky, and passionate. If Only We Were Humen is one of her first written plays, and Tiffany is excited to see her work with PlayGround come to life as a new writer and aspiring actress. She thanks her supportive family, best friends, and drama teacher.

Sarah Schecter (Safe Way) is a theatre artist, activist, and chef from Oakland. She is a junior at Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) studying Playwriting, and a member of the Teen Core Council at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Her work has been published at the 2018 Heart of Oakland Festival, Still I Rise Films, OSA New Works Festival ('18, '19) and at the SF Children's Hospital. Her recent dramaturgy work includes ...And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, and The Importance of Being Earnest at OSA and In The Heights and Hairspray at Throckmorton Theatre. Her recent directing work includes The American Dream and Dog Sees God with Bay Area Zeta Players. She is currently working on writing her first book, and is directing The Rabbit Play at Berkeley Rep's Teen One Acts Festival. She spends her non-theatrical time as treasurer for Bay Area Student Activists, a student-led civic engagement group, and learning and cooking in kitchens around the Bay Area.

For more information, visit https://playground-sf.org/youngplaywrights or call (415) 992-6677.


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