It's on the rare occasion that I get a chance to leave the city. I spend many a holiday here in the Nation's Capitol and by far, Labor Day Weekend is one of my favorites. With it, comes the Kennedy Center's annual Page-to-Stage Festival.
This year, for the first time in five years, I will not be presenting a play in the festival. This made me really sad until I remember that I'm doing something even greater: I'm mentoring a young playwright who will be presenting her work in the festival for the first time as part of the VSA Playwright Discovery Award Program!
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
28th Annual Playwright Discovery Performance
Staged readings of four award-winning student scripts
Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
MILLENNIUM STAGE SOUTH
“We are inspired by the work and enthusiasm of these talented high school students,” said Betty Siegel, Director of VSA and Accessibility at the Kennedy Center. “These works tell important stories from a unique perspective, and we are proud to support the development of these young writers.”
This extraordinary, worthwhile and inspiring program is an annual competition that invites middle and high school students to take a closer look at the world around them, examine how disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and express their views through the art of playwriting. Young playwrights with and without disabilities can write from their own experience or about an experience in the life of another person or a fictional character. The program began in 1984, and has continued annually since. .
This year’s distinquished recipients were chosen from more than 150 applications nationwide and an excerpt of their work will be presented at the Kennedy Center as part the 12th Annual Page-to-Stage Festival. The award winning plays include The Broken Ornament by Margaret Abigail Flowers, Bad Days by Will Hedgecock, Sons of Atlantis by Nik Kerry, Broken Bodies by Mickey Liebrecht, Sertraline Lullabies by Elana Loeb, Cal Sheridan: Not Suffering by Cal Sheridan, Joanna’s Baby by Dimitra Skouras, Love Like Anything by Nathan Wilgeroth, and Falling with Grace by Nicole Zimmerer. The young playwrights will engage with seasoned professional playwrights, directors and actors to refine their work and developed their playwriting skills.
I'm in the finest of company, as many of my esteemed colleagues are taking part including playwright and previous Playwright Discovery Competition winner Janet Allard; award-winning D.C. playwright Norman Allen; award-winning D.C. playwright Renée Calarco; D.C.-based director and actor Lee Mikeska Gardner; award-winning dramaturg and director Sonya Robbins-Hoffmann; award-winning Chicago-based theater artist Michael Patrick Thornton; and award-winning D.C.-based playwright Karen Zacarias will spend the weekend coaching, mentoring and working with the young playwrights.
In my next post, I'm going to introduce you to the mentors and share their experience and thoughts on the role of mentorship. For now, here's more information about the reading and the wonderful young playwrights.
About the Plays and Playwrights
The Broken Ornament by Margaret Abigail Flowers
Margaret Abigail Flowers, 17, originally hails from Houston, Texas, and has recently graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She is the winner of numerous regional and national awards for her poetry and playwriting, including The Blank Theatre Young Playwright's Competition and multiple Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She will be attending Stanford University in the fall of 2013 as an undergraduate student.
About the Play
When Sam returns to find his childhood home decorated as if it were Christmastime in the middle of July and that his sister has been lying to him about his mother's decaying mind, he begins to tear down the routine his family has established in order to achieve his own satisfaction. As he rips apart the Christmas tree, his familial bonds and own guilty conscience are put to the test and they each must look at who they are and what they won to each other and themselves.
Bad Days by Will Hedgecock
Will Hedgecock, 17, is a senior at Edison High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is an editor of Eyrie, the school's nationally recognized journal of creative expression, an active participant in his school's drama program, as well as an Eagle Scout. Will received the regional and state All-Star awards for the OSAI one-act competition for his role as Claudius. In addition, he has produced and directed two of his own one-act plays locally. He plans to major in theatre before pursuing a graduate program in playwriting program.
About the Play
Due to a perceived suicide attempt and a diagnosis of depression, Carrol Jacobs is forced to confront the darkest parts of himself and the scorn and misunderstanding of his friends and relatives until he is "no longer a threat to himself or others." In this poignant, honest and surprisingly funny play, Carrol must face events in his past if he ever hopes to move on to his future.
Sons of Atlantis by Nik Kerry
Nik Kerry, 19, is a recent graduate of Centerville High School in Centerville, Ohio. Those that know him would describe him as energetic and enthusiastic about life. Born in Utah in 1994, he grew up in Ohio where he spent most of his time writing or playing musical instruments. Since being published in a poetry collection in fifth grade, Mr. Kerry’s work has been seen in the Teenink.com magazine, A Celebration of Young Poets magazine, Dark Gothic Resurrected magazine, and he is the self-published author of Nevermore, a book for Kindle. He currently resides in Utah.
About the Play
Henry was a creator of his own city, his own universe, and his own happiness all within his day dreaming and his obsession over Water worlds and shipwrecks due to his Asperger's Syndrome.
Broken Bodies by Mickey Liebrecht
Mickey Liebrecht, 16, is a junior at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado. She is currently enrolled in honors and AP courses. Her greatest love is the choir she is a part of, Young Voices of Colorado, where she has been taught to read and make music. More critically, she has also learned to use music as a tool for her own creative originality—a skill she truly values. She hopes to become a profiler with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
About the Play
A troubled youth has never been able to forgive himself after his father was killed and his sister made deph in a car-accident he believes he could have prevented. Three years later, he and his sister find themselves dragged off by their mother into a new town, with new faces--some old--and new discoveries of how life can go on after ANYBODY has been in ANY way, broken.
Sertraline Lullabies by Elana Loeb
Elana Loeb, 18, recently graduated from Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California. She is a big sister, a singer-songwriter, and an avid Shakespearian. In addition to Sertraline Lullabies, she has written two one-act comedies, an one-act musical, and a full length play. This fall Elana will begin her freshman year at Cornell University.
About the Play
In a parked car in a hospital parking lot, two teenagers worry about a friend of theirs who is under suicide watch.
Cal Sheridan: Not Suffering by Cal Sheridan
Cal Sheridan, 18, recently graduated from Boise High School in Boise, Idaho. For Cal, the stage is his life. Whether writing or acting, he loves being a part of the theatrical experience. He has written two plays: Chestnuts Roasting and Cal Sheridan: Not Suffering. His theater experience also includes working on stage crew as well as numerous acting credits. When not participating in theater, he enjoys writing scripts for cartoons and songs on Garageband. Cal studies under Dwayne Blackaller, a professional playwright at the Boise Contemporary Theatre.
About the Play
Cal, a young philosopher, shares with you the things you need to know but haven't been said. For the weight of the walker is less than the weight of words.
Joanna’s Baby by Dimitra Skouras
Dimitra Skouras, 18, is a recent graduate of Dallastown Area High School in York, Pennsylvania, where she was involved in the music and drama programs. Her lifelong involvement in community theatre fostered her love for all aspects of the performing arts. She enjoys literature, baking, and comedic television, and it is her dream to one day write for TV. Dimitra hopes to attend college sometime in the (hopefully near) future, as soon as she figures out how to pay for it.
About the Play
A woman must reexamine her beliefs and make a very difficult decision when she learns that her child will be born with a disability.
Love Like Anything by Nathan Wilgeroth
Nathan Wilgeroth, 18, recently graduated from Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park, Texas. He was Vice President of the theatre department, having won multiple school- and district-wide acting awards. In addition, he was a member of the Texas All-State Mixed Choir and President of his school's choir department. In the fall, Nathan will attend Boston University and plans to major in English Literature.
About the Play
Love Like Anything is a story about Roger Bolden and Sylvia Harrell, two teenagers dealing with the turmoil of their own parents' divorces. To fight against the seemingly inevitable withering of relationships, they try to convince each other and themselves of the durability of lasting love, asking themselves, "Does love exist and, if so, must it always die?"
Falling with Grace by Nicole Zimmerer
Nicole Zimmerer, 19, just graduated from Westside High School in Houston, Texas. She was a member of the school’s theatre company for four years, as well as a member of National Honors Society. She has had cerebral palsy since birth and has written the words “non-progressive, non-contagious condition” on more college essays than she would like to admit. She is an avid writer and is very passionate about theatre, television, and film. Nicole will be attending the University of Houston in the fall, with plans to major in Playwriting and Dramaturgy.
About the Play
A seventeen-year-old girl, Grace, has dealt with cerebral palsy, anon-contagious, non-progressive condition, her whole life. This is the story of her coming to accept her disability and herself.
VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, was founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all. VSA is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, www.vsarts.org.
About Education at the Kennedy Center
As the national center for the performing arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is committed to increasing opportunities for all people to participate in and understand the arts. To fulfill that mission, the Kennedy Center strives to commission, create, design, produce, and/or present performances and programs of the highest standard of excellence and of a diversity that reflects the world in which we live—and to make those performances and programs accessible and inclusive.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!