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Five Finalists Named in Playwright Festival

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Front row L to R: Kieran Pheasant, Jennifer Rust, both of Milford High School; Back: Mai Gibson – Dover HS, Rita Offutt – St. Elizabeth HS, Athira Sivadas – MOT Charter HS

Five young playwrights were recently selected as finalists in the 2016-2017 Delaware Young Playwrights Festival (DYPF) presented by the Delaware Theatre Company.

Under the guidance of seasoned playwrights at the DTC, these exceptional students, and others who participated in the program, participated in a creative writing workshop before the final versions were selected as finalists. The five finalists are:

  • Alphie by Kieran Pheasant, Milford High School
  • Cross Counter by Jennifer Rust, Milford High School
  • Dear Daddy by Rita Offutt, St. Elizabeth High School
  • Natalie and Nat by Mai Gibson, Dover High School
  • Stages of Life by Athira Sivadas, MOT Charter High School

The finalists will participate in a series of playwriting workshops with professional theatre artists from Delaware Theatre Company to further refine their writing and ready their works for a public showcase performance on March 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. on the Delaware Theatre Company stage. 

“We were fascinated with the variety of ways playwrights approached the theme,” says Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement Johanna Schloss.  “Our finalists’ plays offer five creative takes on what it means for a character to change his or her life and how that character learns what is instrumental in making that change.”

The DYPF began in September with a kickoff workshop for Delaware teachers and students in grades 8-12. From there, 35 plays written by 39 students representing 12 different schools from all three counties in the state were submitted for the first round.

Each playwright received personal feedback about his or her play from a teaching artist of the Delaware Theatre Company staff. Student playwrights had the opportunity to revise and resubmit their work for the second round, also known as the “competition round.” From these entries, the five finalist plays were selected for additional development under the guidance of Delaware Theatre Company’s team of theatre artists and educators. 

Though not selected as finalists, five other plays and their playwrights are recognized with an honorable mention for the merits of their work. These plays are Ted Talks by Jack Rutman (Charter School of Wilmington); Chained by Billie Rose Newby (Newby Family Homeschool); Ophelia Morbes by Rita Offutt and Michael Anderson (St. Elizabeth High School); The End of Memory Lane by Bethany Cowperthwait (MOT Charter High School); and Message from Godot by Kevin Orzada (St. Mark’s High School).   Delaware Theatre Comapny congratulates these playwrights and invites them, along with all of this year’s playwrights, to the awards recognition night and showcase of finalist plays on March 9th.  

Now in its sixth year, DYPF invites high school students to write a play based on a theme inspired by one of Delaware Theatre Company’s productions. This year’s theme was inspired by a quotation from Patrick Barlow’s dramatic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which was produced and presented by DTC in December of 2016. The quotation served as a metaphor for the DYPF theme: write a play in which a character seeks a way to change his or her circumstances by finding “the key” to that change — whether that key is a physical key or a metaphorical key and in that process, learns an important lesson or makes a valuable discovery.

Through the use of a standards-based writing rubric, students created and shaped their original plays with regard to characters, conflict, dialogue, theme, and other dramatic criteria. Delaware Theatre Company celebrates the work of all 39 students in adding 35 new plays to the world of theatre through their participation in the 2016-2017 Delaware Young Playwrights Festival. 

The mission of Delaware Theatre Company’s DYPF is to provide students with an authentic audience for their creative writing and teachers with an innovative literacy program. Guided by passion and professionalism, DYPF uses educational resources, interactive workshops, personal feedback to every playwright, and public performances to engage students in the art of theatre through the act of writing a play. Both competitive and cooperative, DYPF fosters, respects, and celebrates the voices of young writers. 

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