Young Playwrights Festival celebrates 15 years in Pittsburgh

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Photo by Mickey Miller, Human Habits.

City Theatre Company

Through October 10
Various times

The region’s next generation of talented playwrights is set to present their original works at City Theatre Company.

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of its Young Playwrights Festival, City Theatre will host professional productions of six one-act plays penned by middle and high school students. The unique event provides young playwrights with the chance to have their voices heard widely, present their original work in a professional arts environment and receive constructive criticism from theatre experts.

Selected from 300-plus submissions during its Young Playwrights Contest, with scripts coming in from all over western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, the Festival runs September 30th through October 10th, with both private student matinees and public performances at City Theatre’s Hamburg Studio.

Culled from the contest’s largest pool of submissions to date, winning scripts all reflect a solid story structure, strong dialogue and a unique point of view. Each submission was read and evaluated by at least two members of City Theatre’s Literary Committee—a volunteer group of 60 regional and national theatre professionals that includes actors, playwrights, directors, dramaturgs and theatre educators. The six winners (three in each division) are then selected by City Theatre’s director of education & accessibility and senior artistic staff.

Debuting on stage will be one-act works that embody diverse theatrical storytelling, imaginative plots and vivid characters. Subjects tackled by the budding playwrights range from identity crisis in Barbie and Ken’s Dream House, to adventures with a psycho goose from outer space, to time travel via a magic bat, and much more.

Ranging in age from 13 to 18, winners for 2014 are: Attack of The Psycho Geese from Outer Space! (Weston Custer, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12); The Bat Boy (Joseph Bornes, Sharpsville Area Middle School); Cologne (Michelle Do, North Hills Middle School); Dream House (Drew Praskovich, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12); The Cellar (Casey Zadinski South Fayette High School); and Conflict (Michael Kelly, Moon Area High School). In addition to producing the six winning plays, City Theatre will also feature readings of three plays selected as Young Playwrights Contest finalists.

Kristen Link, director of education & accessibility for City Theatre, says that Festival has many success stories as it enters its 15th year. One former winner, Olivia O’Connor—a two-time produced Knoch High School playwright—went on to receive her BFA in Dramaturgy from Carnegie Mellon and is now working as a theatre professional in NYC. Coming full circle with City Theatre, O’Connor served as dramaturg for one of the winning 2014 plays.

The Festival’s creative team includes Steven Wilson (director), Carlyn Aquiline (literary manager and dramaturg), Kristen Link (director of education & accessibility), Tony Ferrieri (scenic consulting), Hannah Prochaska (costume), Regina Tvaruzek (lighting), Steve Shapiro (Sound), Sabrina Hykes (props) and Brad Peterson (projection consulting). Dramaturgy was done by David Little, Heather Helinsky, Jeanne Drennan, Tyler Crumrine, Annie DiMario and Olivia O’Connor (Dream House).

Private student matinees will begin on September 30th. Performances on October 4th and 5th are open to the public. Purchase tickets.