• Video: Student playwrights take audiences to brave new worlds

    by John Moore | Jun 14, 2018

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Four public performances of the student-written play Technical Difficulties will be staged this Friday, June 15

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Denver Center Education launched its annual, year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition five years ago to celebrate the voices of teen writers in Colorado. In that time, hundreds of students have found their authentic voices, Executive Director of Education Allison Watrous says. But now, more than ever, they are discovering the courage it can take to use them.

    “We were so inspired by how brave all of the plays were this year in asking questions about family and the world,” Watrous said. “These teenagers are really facing those questions head-on through their creative writing.”

    Student playwriting Juliana Luce and Trinell SamuelStarting last fall, DCPA Education faculty taught 140 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado high schools. A record 3,002 students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state. The 153 subsequent submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic and education professionals.

    Ten 10 semifinalists were named, who covered a substantive range of important topics including sexual abuse, gender identity, suicide, homelessness, child abuse, race relations and addiction.  From that field, three plays were chosen to be presented in February by professional actors at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. That included a week of workshops, rewrites, rehearsals and mentoring from nationally acclaimed playwrights. The following three finalists also received a $250 scholarship:

    • Emmaleth Ryan, Grandview High School: In The Warrior, a young woman who is fighting her demons decides to end the battle by committing suicide. However, her course is interrupted by another young woman who reminds her of the resilience of the human spirit. “I learned more about how to grapple with life by writing a character who has fought her demons and won,” Ryan said. MEET EMMALETH
    • Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel, Vista PEAK Preparatory: Technical Difficulties is a comedy about a group of theatre students who encounter every techie's worst nightmare: Their show has been seized by vengeful understudies. Will these backstage heroes save their show? the self-described high-school techies: “When the lights, sound or even just the ambience we help create draws ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience, it is mystical for us,” Samuel said. “It feeds the hunger of our inner artist.” MEET JULIANNA AND TRINELL
    • Noah Jackson, Girls Athletic Leadership School: Wine Colored Lip Gloss is about a non-binary teenager named Lucca who is dealing with gender-identity issues and unaccepting parents. “I learned how to take advice on social situations from my own characters, which actually helped me through a lot of problems I've faced,” Jackson said. MEET NOAH

    Every summer, one of the finalist scripts is chosen to be staged as a full production by DCPA Education’s teen academy. On Friday, these student actors will present four public performances of Technical Difficulties, staged by two separate casts, at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Conservatory Theatre.

    Student playwriting Emmaleth RyanRyan says issues of mental illness and suicide have been at the forefront of her mind since middle school, and the Denver Center’s playwriting challenge gave her a constructive tool to explore and channel them.

    “I offer two different perspectives on the issue of suicide,” she said. “One character is mired in it, and the other is trying to help her out of it. She is what I call my ‘savior figure.’ She represents my perspective that while it may seem permanent, it's really a temporary state of mind, no matter how final it might seem.”

    There is some level of self-victimization that goes into mental illness and suicide that isn't often talked about openly, Ryan said, “because it is either completely glorified or completely vilified. I wanted to bring that out in the dialogue between my two main characters.”

    Jackson’s play made history when it became the first story to address topic of gender identity in the nearly 40-year history of the Denver Center.

    Student Playwriting Noah JacksonRose-Colored Lip Gloss is a play based on Jackson’s own experiences. “As a boy in a dress, I am obviously gender-queer in some way," said Jackson, who self-identifies using he/him pronouns while his main character uses they/them. "Lucca is very confused about their gender identity,” Jackson said. “They don't understand what the spectrum is at first, because they don't know who they are yet. My play is about Lucca trying to figure out who they are while dealing with family members who are unaccepting and have serious problems of their own. It's just very personal to me, and very close to my heart."

    These extraordinary writers, Watrous said, “are exploring the fullest potential of the art form through their use of poetry and nuanced dialogue. And we are honored to nurture and empower these emerging voices and put them out into the world, whether as part of the next generation of American theatre playwrights, or as a lawyer or a communications director. The important lesson here is that their voices are powerful.”

    Technical Difficulties, by contrast, is very much a comedy, co-written by two friends who met as backstage technicians for the Vista PEAK High School theatre program. Samuel is the sound-board operator and Luce is a stage manager and lighting designer who last month won the Bobby G Award for Outstanding Lighting for her school's production on Into the Woods.

    (Story continues after the photo below.)

    Noah Jackson Juliana Luce

    Playwriting finalists Noah Jackson (middle of photo on left) and Julianna Luce have returned to the Denver Center since having their plays presented in February: Jackson participated in the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival in April; Luce won the 2018 Bobby G Award for Outstanding Lighting in May. Photos by John Moore and Emily Lozow for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    In her acceptance speech, Luce said the award was especially meaningful to her "because of all the amazing work the DCPA does to encourage the work of young people, including the playwriting program."

    She and Samuel chose to co-write Technical Difficulties as a team, which Samuel said made for a complementary fit.

    “I am the bones, and she is the flesh,” said Samuel. “I'll write out a scenario and Juliana will add flavor to the characters and make the dialogue sound more natural.”

    Look back: 2018 Colorado New Play Summit got real

    Seeing their plays presented as professional readings at the Colorado New Play Summit, which draws important theatre industry guests from across the country, was indescribable for Jackson.

    “I had someone come up to me in tears saying my play touched her so much, and I am just over the moon about that,” he said. “It makes me so excited that people are actually feeling the words that I worked so hard on.”

    A Summit Noah Jackson Quote FullJackson took his writing challenge very seriously, especially given the paucity of plays that talk about transgender people and their struggles. But he wanted much more than to write an educational, afterschool-special type of play that “taught” audiences about non-binary people.

    “I wanted it to also have an actual story with characters who had depth, and I think I finally developed it enough to get there.” Jackson said. “I want people to that there are people who struggle with gender identity, and this is an important subject that needs to show up in the media more. But I also wanted it to be a good play.”

    Ryan expected to cry like a baby when her play was first performed — “but luckily my mom did all of that for me,” she said. But she admits being nervous about turning her deeply personal words — much of it her own previously private poetry — into the hands of strangers.

    “But as soon as I walked into that room and the first rehearsal started, I was reassured because the actors they picked for my show were amazing,” she said. “I honesty could not have picked a better group of people myself.” She said watching it acted out in front of an audience gave her new perspective — and pride — in what she had written.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

    Photo gallery:  Denver Center student playwriting:

    2018 Student Playwriting

    Photos from rehearsals and performance of selected student playwriting scripts. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full Flickr photo gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Each year, the featured student playwrights are paired with a professional mentor attending the Colorado New Play Summit. Luce and Samuel were counseled by American Mariachi author José Cruz González; Ryan met with Tony Meneses; and Jackson teamed up with Aleshea Harris.

    “It was really cool to talk to Tony because he is a seasoned playwright who knows what he is doing in this field,” Ryan said. “It was really validating to hear that what I was trying to express on paper came through for him on the stage.”

    Jackson, who does not yet have a vast personal library of gender-fluid writers to study, said Harris wrote down the names of several non-binary playwrights for him to explore. “She was super-cool and helpful and gave me information that I am sure is going to be inspiring and useful to me in the future,” Jackson said.  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    It is incidental but worth noting that at this time of pronounced gender disparity in the American theatre, the DCPA's statewide high-school playwriting competition has, by a blind judging draw, now produced 70 percent female finalists in its first five years (39 of 56).

    Also of note: Each teacher of the three finalists received a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Student playwriting. Photo by John Moore.

    The featured playwrights at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Public performances of Technical Difficulties

    • Written by Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel
    • Directed by Justin Wolvoord
    • Friday, June 15
    • Performances at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
    • Conservatory Theatre, located in the DCPA's Newman Center for Theatre Education at 1101 13th Street (at Arapahoe St.)
    • Free
    • No advance RSVP required. Just come.
    • Information on next year's program: denvercenter.org/education

    Cast lists:
    10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.:                       

    • Alice Zelenko: Maureen        
    • Isabella Rossi: Tracy            
    • Jeremiah Garcia: Seymour        
    • Nikki Trippler: Elphie            
    • Benji Dienstfrey: Collins            
    • Jori O’Grady: LeFou           
    • Breck Dahlgren: Belle            
    • Gracie Dahlgren: Beast            
    • Angela Howell: Props Master
    • Mati Rogers: Gaston
    • Sarah Scott: Wolf
    • Zoe Fonck: Wolf

    1:30 and 8 p.m.:

    • Zoe Fonck: Maureen
    • Mati Rogers: Tracy
    • Benji Dienstfrey: Seymour
    • Sarah Scott: Elphie
    • Jeremiah Garcia: Collins
    • Angela Howell: LeFou
    • Gracie Dahlgren: Belle
    • Breck Dahlgren: Beast
    • Jori O’Grady: Props Master
    • Isabella Rossi: Gaston
    • Nikki Trippler: Wolf
    • Alice Zelenko: Wolf

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:

    2018 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.
  • The 2018 Scenesters: Callista Zaronias

    by John Moore | Jan 15, 2018
    A 2018 Scenesters Callista Zaronias 800

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 9: CALLISTA ZARONIAS

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette
    • Teacher: Kristie Letter
    • Your play title: Invisible Scars
    • What is your play about? It's about a woman who has been sexually abused and struggles with what it means in her current life. It shows the internal conflict with her conscience as she fights to come to terms with the abuse.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Sexual abuse is a tragicjennifer-lawrence event and a much too common issue in today’s society. Many women are now voicing their stories of sexual abuse in the media. These women inspired me to help bring even more attention to sexual abuse. No one deserves to be abused, and no one should feel the need to keep quiet about it. Everyone deserves a voice, and I hope that my play can help others find their voice, too.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: Naive.
    • Killer casting: I would cast Jennifer Lawrence as Nicole's Conscience because of her spunky humor, and her real and gritty personality.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? That creative expression can come in many different forms. I also learned that words can have different meaning when they're written versus when they are said, and that difference can make plays uniquely powerful.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenesters Callista Zaronias quote


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel

    by John Moore | Jan 13, 2018
    2018 scenesters Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 7:
    JULIANNA LUCE AND TRINELL SAMUEL

    • Class: Seniors
    • School: Vista Peak Prep High School, Aurora
    • Teacher: Heathe Stecklein
    • Your play title: Technical Difficulties
    • What is your play about? It's a comedy about a group of theatre students who encounter every techie's worst nightmare: Their show has been seized by vengeful understudies. This is a production that tests that old cliché “the show must go on.” With power from the Techie Gods, will these techies save their show?
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Two years ago, we were asked to write a one-act play together as a part of a theatre class. With little writing experience, we struggled for a long time to think of script ideas until we realized we should just write about what we knew. We are both technicians in the Vista Peak theatre department, and knew it was a unique atmosphere for storytelling. What does every techie fear? A bad show. We began to write, and thus came Technical Difficulties.
    • Favorite word that appears in your scriptPizzazz!
    • michael ceraKiller casting: We would cast Michael Cera as Todd because he perfectly exudes a corny, nerdy, and awkward kid while still being inexplicably lovable. You subconsciously want to protect him, but also want to see him be brave. These same personality traits shape our character Todd.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? We learned just how fun creating a story can be, and how it can help open your eyes to situations you never really think about. We learned that the starving/striving artist mindset can be very different for  actors as opposed to technicians. The love and the utter need to be on stage could drive an actor insane, while working being behind the scenes can make you feel as if your work is not being acknowledged. As techies, we wanted to explore those different mindsets in our play. We love the hidden aspect of our jobs. We love the idea that people who only come to see a play never see all the work that went into it backstage. But when the lights, sound or even just the ambience that we help create draws "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience, it is mystical for us techies. That might not seem like enough to an actor. But it feeds the hunger of our inner artist.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters 2018 Quote Technical Difficulties


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Micah James Wilborn

    by John Moore | Jan 12, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Micah James Wilborn

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 5: MICAH JAMES WILBORN

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Air Academy High School, Colorado Springs
    • Teacher: Susan Manst
    • Your play title: A World Out There
    • What is your play about? Jack is a young boy orphaned by a sickness that also  took many others. When Brooke comes across his makeshift home, a newfound friendship is born and they begin to learn more about themselves than ever before. Only with each other's help can they overcome their greatest obstacle: Their pasts.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? A couple of close friends inspired the characters, while the storyline comes from a dystopian take on our world today. Some of the main characters' interactions are based off conversations I have had or overheard while writing this.
    • Daniel_HuttlestoneFavorite word that appears in your scriptQuarantine!
    • Killer casting: Daniel Huttlestone as Jack. Though it wouldn't be the first time he's played a "Jack," this role might show some differences from the Jack he played in Into the Woods! He seems the perfect age, and his image is actually what I had in my head while working on my Jack's character.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? That my own ideas can grow into something so much bigger, if I let them. This started out as a sentence and grew into a full-blown one-act musical. That is because I had an idea, and I stuck with it and, with some nurturing, of course, let it grow. For that opportunity alone, I am eternally grateful.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Quote Micah Scenesters

    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Gemma Vincent

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2018
    Scenesters 2018 Gemma Vincent

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 5: GEMMA VINCENT

    • Class: Junior
    • School: Gunnison High School
    • Your play title: The Girl In The Yellow Dress
    • What is your play about? It follows Kade, a boy full of grief and sorrow and animosity toward not just life, but the rain itself. It isn't until a mysterious girl in a yellow dress appears through the dewdrops that Kade’s outlook on life, and his hatred for rain, is changed.
    • Audrey HepburnFavorite word that appears in your script: Lugubrious!
    • Killer casting: I would cast Audrey Hepburn in the role of Daisy Amya, as she was in her own way, and in other roles she played, eccentric and whimsical. She was one of my favorite actresses.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This play has been a part of me for some time now. In having a rough couple of years health-wise, I have found something of a lifeline in my imagination of this world within the play, and in creating the characters. This play, and these characters have become close to my heart. In the rough patches in my life, I have been able to escape into words and writing and developing a story.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenester quote Gemma Vincent


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Katanu Mwendwa

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Katanu Mwendwa

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 4: KATANU MWENDWA

    • Class: Freshman
    • SchoolDSST: Conservatory Green High School
    • Teacher: Nate Reaven
    • Your play title: Don’t Be Fooled By Murphy Manor
    • What is your play about? In 1959, a murder happened at Murphy Manor. Now, fifty-nine years later, three girls — Lee-Ann, Aliana and Freddy — team up with the ghost of Jeanne Randall to solve her murder. Along the way, they discover truths they never imagined possible, and rediscover their pasts.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? It was actually during our finals testing, when we were told to write an essay about Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr. Once finished, I considered the possibility of writing about the 1950s, right around when protests were starting to grow.
    • Favorite words that appear in your script: Flutter Bum.
    • ChinaAnneMcClainKiller casting: If I could cast one known actor in my play, I would choose China Ann McClain to play Jeanne Randall. Based on what I’ve seen, I think her personality is similar to Jeanne’s. She also looks like what I had in mind for Jeanne as well. I would also cast Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton) to play Lee-Ann Rivera. because she looks and sounds exactly like what I envisioned for Lee-Ann.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? How to create dimensional characters who are likable, but still have their own individual flaws and ideas that separate them from one another. I also learned a lot about the 1950s, For example, that the album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis came out around the same time the story took place.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    ScenesterQuote42018


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Cameron Barnard, Joshua Martelon and Eliza Keating

    by John Moore | Jan 09, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Cherry Creek High School

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 3: JOSHUA MARTELON,
    ELIZA KEATING AND CAMERON BARNARD

    • Class: Seniors
    • School: Cherry Creek High School
    • Teacher: Matthew Gustafson
    • Your play title: An Unforeseen Stop
    • Responder: Joshua Martelon
    • What is your play about? It is the story of two people of extremely different backgrounds finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Lost in a big city, Nathan Reed, a blind man with no one in the world to call his own, finds that he and Bianca, a strong African-African woman making her way through hard work, have more in common than he expected. The heavy topics of bullying, discrimination, handicaps and racism are interspersed with the humor of two strangers, their cats and a mischievous little pineapple, making it a little easier for them to talk in this ever-changing world.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? This play was the creation of three friends not knowing what to write about for a Creative Writing assignment. While spit-balling ideas in class, we started joking about this and that in the ways of our dark humor — and suddenly it occurred to us that if we treated the jokes as more serious issues, they could create an interesting story. This The Blind-Apple (our original joke of a title) gave way to An Unforeseen Stop, something the three of us are proud to call our own.
    • nat wolffFavorite words that appears in your script: Our play is about two pretty normal city folk, so probably the most interesting word would be ... pineapple.
    • Killer casting: We would cast Nat Wolff from Paper Towns as Nathan Reed. Nat Wolff fits the physical description but more important, the roles he has played most recently in the movie adaptations of John Green's novels have been ones with deep character flaws that are physical, emotional and social. All these characteristics, which he adapted to beautifully, would bring Nathan Reed to life, in all his weird and awkward wonder.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This experience has taught us about what it means to be creative. It is easy to think of an idea for a play, but bringing characters to life and making scenes and dialogue realistic and yet entertaining is a thing of art, and my friends and I now have a greater respect for playwrights past and present who have filled our hearts and souls with the sweet and sad love of the theater.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters 2018 Cherry Creek quote


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters, No. 2: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks

    by John Moore | Jan 08, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 2:
    ASHLEY WRIGHT AND AMELIA MIDDLEBROOKS

    • Class: Seniors
    • Teacher: Kurt Muenstermann
    • Your play title: Forces of the Universe Anonymous
    • What is your play about? Life, Death, Time and Love are sick of their jobs and sick of humanity. Their interactions with humans have left them dejected and bitter. Life begins leading group-therapy sessions that are attended reluctantly. Slowly, each character begins to make discoveries about their views on relationships between themselves and humanity as a whole.
    • Return writer: Read Amelia's 2017 Scenester profile

    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Ashley: "I was inspired in part by The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The narrator of the book is Death, and though I haven't read it since seventh grade, the way he was characterized has always stuck out to me as unique and profound. The idea of adding in other characters besides Death came from Amelia." Amelia: "I love the animated movie The Book of Life for its beautiful art style and captivating story, which similarly characterizes Death and Life. Putting those two seeds of inspiration together is what grew this story.
    • Favorite words that appears in your script: Collide ... and pocket-watch.
    • 160 scarlett johanssonKiller casting: We both would enjoy seeing Scarlett Johansson play Love. She would be able to portray both sides of the character: Love is flirty and sexy on the exterior, but beneath the surface, vulnerable and protective.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? The forces of the universe (Life, Death, Time and Love) are not as separate as we may have once believed. Life creates love, love needs time, and while time ultimately does lead to death, it does not cancel out the reality of the life, love, and time of that individual. In the process of writing this play, we had to think hard about what the essences of these characters are. What is Love, really? Or Life, or Death, or Time? It is in one sense a great mystery but in another it is so apparent that by simply watching people come and go on a street one can see heartbreaking and heartwarming moments of each.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters Quote Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters, No. 1: Arianna Josue

    by John Moore | Jan 07, 2018
    1 scenesters_1.3_010518 2018 ARIANNA JOSUE 800

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we begin our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 1: ARIANNA JOSUE

    • School: Lakewood High School
    • Class: Sophomore
    • Teacher: Tami LoSasso
    • Your play title: Trauma Bay Five
    • What is your play about? Two girls: Mia who is very young, and Elliot, who is a teenager. As fate has it, they are in the same hospital when their lives change dramatically. They must navigate these new circumstances together to try to comprehend what happened and to accept their new, grim fate.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? I wanted to write something to call attention to child abuse and neglect, which can gravely change the way children view themselves and the world around them. I was inspired by my grandpa, who I call Bompo, to write about something that was really meaningful. My Bompo always encouraged me to be great, and he was a pivotal factor in who I am today. He loved his grandchildren more than words can describe, and I know not everyone is fortunate to feel that love from their family. Throughout the writing process I questioned myself, because this really is a dark story. But I felt that if my Bompo were still here, he’d remind me that I have a story to tell. Sometimes stories are dark and they can be hard to watch, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be told.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: Tolerance.
    • amandla-stenbergKiller casting: I would probably choose Amandla Stenberg who was the lead in Everything, Everything and Rue in The Hunger Games, to play Elliot. I personally feel she’d be able to play the emotions of Elliot accurately seeing how she was able to successfully portray a girl who had basically been trapped in her own home. I also feel she has the image of Elliot as I had imagined her, and it would be interesting to see her portray the character.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I learned about how to revise my work many times to make it the best it can be. I worked on my play with my theater teacher and some friends from school, and I edited it several times before it was finished.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Quote Arianna Josue


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2017 True West Award: Claudia Carson

    by John Moore | Dec 06, 2017
    True West Awards. Claudia Carson. Photo courtesy Jimmy Awards

    2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS  

    Day 6: Claudia Carson


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Claudia Carson loves her job to her core. That job is to help high-students love theatre to their cores. And she’s pretty good at her job.

    There’s far more to it than that. Carson is also a stage manager, choreographer, director and teaching artist. But what really fuels her fire is coordinating two profoundly meaningful student programs for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts: The annual Bobby G Awards, which celebrate achievements in high-school musical theatre, and a year-round, statewide teen playwriting competition.

    “Claudia is just so joyful, so inspirational and so hungry to make an impact with students,” said DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous. “She makes those programs possible with her year-round passion and commitment.”

    Claudia Carson True West BGA 2017The Bobby G Awards, which served 42 high schools and nearly 7,000 students last school year, are Carson’s true labor of love. She manages all operational elements of the wide-ranging, 5-year-old  program, including coordinating in-school workshops, professional adjudications of every production and a big, culminating Tony Awards-style party attended by nearly 2,000 each May at the Buell Theatre.

    Participating high schools have the opportunity to be mentored by DCPA Teaching Artists, and last year 24 schools signed on for 70 workshop classes. Once their school musicals go up, they are judged by a field of professional artists and educators who not only score each show for awards consideration, they provide detailed, constructive feedback that teachers can use to make their programs better.

    The awards ceremony itself is a remarkable celebration of the high-school theatre community. Carson not only directs the slick show, she choreographs sophisticated, original medleys that are performed by all of the male and female leading actor nominees. The two students ultimately named Outstanding Actor and Actress move on to the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City, also known as The Jimmys. And Carson chaperones them every step of the way.

    “I think the magic of Claudia coordinating the Bobby G Awards program is that she cares so much about theatre in Colorado, and she cares so much about teachers,” Watrous said. “Claudia is a full-on champion of high-school theatre in Colorado.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    This past year, the DCPA’s fourth High School Playwriting Competition drew 132 one-act submissions from budding writers in 14 Colorado counties. That after Carson sent DCPA Teaching Artists to 46 high schools, where they conducted 138 workshops for more than 2,800 students. Four of the resulting scripts were chosen to be read by professional actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February, and two were ultimately given fully staged productions through DCPA Education’s summer academy.

    Claudia Carson True West BGA 2016If that weren’t “job enough,” Carson also returned to her roots as a Stage Manager this year for the recent return engagement of Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women. And as a summer Teaching Artist for DCPA Education, she and a group of ambitious teens created an entire original musical from scratch — in just two weeks.

    If that sounds like a lot, you should know this about Carson: It's in her DNA. Her mother, Bev Newcomb-Madden, is a pioneer of  children's theatre in Denver and has directed more plays than any other woman in Colorado theatre history. Her sister, Glenna Kelly, is an accomplished actor who for a long time ran Kaiser-Permanente’s acclaimed Educational Theatre Programs for Colorado. And her daughter, Claire Carson, studied at Denver School of the Arts and SMU, and is now an actor in Dallas. That’s three generations of accomplished Newcomb women — and counting. And brother Jamie Newcomb performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's recent productions of Benediction and All the Way

    Pictured above and right: Claudia Carson with 2016 Bobby G Awards Outstanding Actors Curtis Salinger and Charlotte Movizzo, and DCPA  Senior Manager of Press and Promotions Heidi Bosk).

    “Claudia is a sensitive, caring and compassionate person, and she really has an innate ability to connect with teenagers,” said DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg. “But at the same time, she is also a quintessential stage manager and mother, which is probably why she is so good at both jobs. Part of being a good mom is being a good stage manager.”

    Carson graduated from Denver East High School and studied journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She came to the Denver Center as a stage manager for all Galleria Theatre shows for a five-year stretch starting in 2003 with the longest-running musical in Colorado theatre history, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. She later took charge of the global expansion of the runaway hit Girls Only and then served as Executive Assistant to DCPA President Randy Weeks, who died in 2014. She has also worked as a stage manager at Curious Theatre and the Arvada Center.

    But she seems to have found her sweetest spot working with students.

    “She’s doing what she loves with the people she loves the most,” Ekeberg said. “For someone who has done so many things, that’s a pretty cool culmination of a pretty cool career.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    True West Claudia Carson 2017

    The four finalists from the DCPA's fourth statewide High School Playwriting Competition had their plays presented as readings at the 12th annual 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, including 'Dear Boy on the Tree,' above, written by Jasmin Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS: '30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS'
    The True West Awards, now in their 17th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2017 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

    A look back at the history of the True West Awards

    The 2017 True West Awards


    Video bonus 1: The 2017 Bobby G Awards




    Video bonus 2 Student playwriting:

  • Authentic voices: 2017 student playwriting winners announced

    by John Moore | Apr 11, 2017
    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Two student writers will have their one-act plays
    fully staged in public performances in June.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The mission of DCPA Education’s annual year-long student playwriting competition is to help high-school writers find and cultivate their authentic voices. And this year, for the first time, it has ultimately chosen to celebrate two.

    The winning plays of the fourth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition are Dear Boy on the Tree, written by Jasmin Hernandez Lozano of Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora, and Spilt Lava, written by Ryan McCormick of Fort Collins High School. Both plays will be given full productions in June, performed by DCPA Education’s summer teen company.

    Teen Playwriting QuoteBoth plays feature young couples exploring connection in unusual places. In Spilt Lava, a boy and girl float across each other on doors in a world where the floor is made of burning lava. Dear Boy on the Tree is a gender-reversed take on Rapunzel, featuring a boy hiding in a tree who is trapped by his fear until a girl named Willow happens along.

    “At the DCPA, we know it is so important to cultivate young playwrights,” said Director of Education Allison Watrous. “That's what this program is all about.”

    Each fall, DCPA Teaching Artists go out into schools statewide, deliver playwriting workshops and encourage students to write and submit one-act plays for the competition. This year, those Teaching Artists went to 46 high schools and delivered 138 workshops for more than 2,800 students. “We really want to encourage teenagers to tell amazing stories and put their plays out in the world,” Watrous said.  

    This year, 132 one-act plays were received and judged blindly. In January, 10 were named as finalists. Of those, four were chosen to have a workshop and staged reading by DCPA actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit in February. The process mirrors exactly what happens to the four new plays featured by the DCPA Theatre Company at each Summit. “It's really the first time these students have an opportunity to hear the play on its feet with a cast of actors,” Watrous said. “That gives the playwright the opportunity to really fine-tune the play as it moves to its next stage of development.”  

    IStudent Playwriting Ryan McCormickn previous years, one play has been ultimately chosen for a full summer production. This year, competition officials chose to advance both Lozano and McCormick’s scripts to full stagings.

    Lozano, a first-generation American whose parents do not speak English, asked her brothers if she was hallucinating when she read the email telling her she had been named a finalist.

    “I started crying right then and there because it was so emotional,” said Lozano. “Then my mom heard me crying and she said, 'What's happening? What's happening?' I explained everything to her in Spanish and then we all started crying, because we're a family of criers.

    Teen Playwriting Jasmin Hernandez LozanoLozano, who wrote her play in English, was born in a neighborhood “where I had a lot of limits,” she said, “so I would never assume I could win something like this. I don't have a family that has won a lot of awards. So winning this is one step toward getting out of that stereotype that Hispanic people can’t achieve as much as other people.”

    McCormick, now a senior, also was a top-10 finalist his sophomore year. He wrote Spilt Lava in part “because there was a girl I was trying to convince to date me, and she was reluctant,” he said. He credits the DCPA and his teachers for giving him the creative confidence to set his unlikely play on a floor of lava.

    “I've been working on it for a while, so it went through different phases,” he said. “As I got to higher English classes in high school, we started learning about postmodernism and the idea that if everyone believes something, then that is its own reality - and the lava floor is a perfect example of that. I wrote a love story where the floor happens to be lava.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousThe winning plays will be performed back-to-back twice at 1:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 16, in the DCPA’s Conservatory Theatre. Admission is free, and the public is welcome. Both will be directed by actor and published playwright Steven Cole Hughes.

    The other finalists were Parker Bennett of Fossil Ridge High School (Counting in Clay and Jessica Wood of Denver Christian School (Chill Winds). Wood is the first student in the competition's history to advance to the Colorado New Play Summit twice.

    “It was such an amazing experience last year to be able to see my play go through the workshop process and then have a staged reading,” said Wood. “I was so excited to come back and to experience that again. Programs like this just don't exist in very many places.”

    The four finalists each received personal mentoring from a professional playwright at the Summit, culminating in public readings that were attended by their families and friends alongside theatre professionals from all around the country. Last year, Wood was mentored by Lauren Yee, whose play Manford at the Line was developed at the 2017 Summit and will be fully staged as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s next mainstage season.

    “It was so amazing to be able to meet with someone who actually makes a living from playwriting,” Wood said of Yee. “Just to hear her say, 'Your play was really good' was an incredible feeling for me.”

    Student Playwriting Allison WatrousMcCormick said advancing as far as the Summit was all he could have hoped for. “To come here and just be able to rub shoulders with professionals and just be a part of this whole Summit has been crazy,” he said.

    In addition, each teacher of the four finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. And as an added bonus, the DCPA will publish all four of the finalists’ plays.

    “We do that so we can continue to create a volume of the plays each year and to really commemorate this work,” Watrous said. “Now these writers are now all published playwrights, which is very exciting.”

    Some of the 132 participating students may become professional playwrights someday. But the greater goal, Watrous said, is to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication, which are skills that can help them in all aspects of their adult lives.


    Photo gallery: 2016-17 Student Playwriting

    2017 Student Playwriting

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable for free and may be used for personal and social purposes with credit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
     

    2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Sponsors:
    Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:
    Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Samantha Shapard, Overland High School
    Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    Daniela Villalobo, York International
    Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School
  • The 2017 Scenesters, No. 10: Samantha Shapard

    by John Moore | Jan 13, 2017
    Scenesters Samantha Shapard

    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 10: SAMANTHA SHAPARD

    • School: Overland High School, Aurora
    • Class: Senior
    • Teacher: Eric Eidson
    • Your play title: The Sincerest Form of Flattery
    • What is your play about? My play is about a girl named Addison who is essentially a copycat. She craves attention and material possessions, and she's started stealing people's entire personalities. She lives as a form of self-gratification. The story follows her interactions with another girl, Tanya, who is a skateboarder.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Addison is actually a character of mine I've written about in many previous stories. I was doing a playwriting independent study with my theater teacher, Mr. Eidson, and thought she would be a really cool character to write a play about. I love villains, and Addison is as bad as it gets.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: "Ollie." Tanya is a skateboarder, so I had to look up some skateboarding lingo! It's basically a trick where the rider leaps into the air with a board without the use of the rider's hands.
    • A Scenesters Willow ShieldsKiller casting: I think I would have to cast Willow Shields (The Hunger Games) as Addison. She has big eyes that make her look really innocent, and I also feel like she could play a shifty character really well!
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I learned more about how to revise my work many times to make it the best it can be. I worked on my play with my theater teacher and some friends from school, and I edited it several times before it was finished.

    Meet Samantha Shapard's semifinalist twin sister, Sarah

    A Scenesters Samantha Shapard Quote


    Our countdown of the
    2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School

    No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    No. 4: Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    No. 5: Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    No. 7: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School
    No. 8: Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School
    No. 9: Daniela Villalobo, York International

    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters, No. 9: Daniela Villalobos

    by John Moore | Jan 12, 2017
    Scenesters Daniela Villalobos

    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Monday, Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tuesday: Scenester profile No. 10.


    SCENESTER NO. 9: DANIELA VILLALOBOS

    • School: York International, Thornton
    • Class: Senior
    • Teacher: Alison Helfand
    • Your play title: Dr. Grumpy Pants
    • What is your play about? Dr. Madman is obsessed with creating a formula, which he decides to test on his neighbor's dog. When the neighbor's grandma grows sick, Dr. Madman tries to help by using the formula, with fatal consequences.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? The play was inspired by a woman close to me who is going through cancer. Like Dr. Madman, I wish I could find a cure. One version of my script was full of humor but that did not give me much of a plot to work with. Another version was sad, and I did not want to write 25 pages of a depressing story. So I took pieces from both until I came up with something that had a little of both. The people around me inspired the characters - one being my English teacher, with her sarcastic personality. My baby brother inspired the character of Kiran, the neighbor.

    • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Favorite word that appears in your script: "Goofy butt." 
    • Killer casting: In reality, I would want to see the people who inspired these characters act it out. But they would not fit the characters' physical characteristics.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? Writing a play is not easy. The characters become part of you, and can teach you lifelong lessons. I learned that no matter how much we wish we weren't in a certain situation, we cannot make it disappear. We have to learn how to solve it, or live with it. 
    A Sceneters Daniela Villalobos Quote


    Our countdown of the
    2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School

    No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    No. 4: Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    No. 5: Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    No. 7: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School
    No. 8: Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School

    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters: Parker Bennett

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2017
    Scenesters Parker Bennett
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tuesday: Scenester profile No. 9.


    SCENESTER NO. 8: PARKER BENNETT

    • School: Fossil Ridge High School
    • Class: Sophomore
    • Teacher: Kristin Rust
    • Your play title: Counting in Clay
    • What is your play about? A sculptor lives on a secluded island where he crafts living people from clay. However, all of his projects so far have been flawed, until he manages to create something he thinks might be perfect ...
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein and the film Swiss Army Man.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: "Haven." 
    • Scenesters Parker Bennett James McAvoyKiller casting: I would cast James McAvoy to play The Sculptor. I think he could bring a lot of energy and anxiety to the character, and could play the gentleman and the pyschopath simultaneously.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This was a writing experience unlike any I've ever had, because I wasn't just writing for myself. I was writing for an audience. People were actually going to read this, so the message of my story had to be crystal clear. I tend to go into writings with basically no care or planning, but this competition made me look at my writing in the same way I've looked at Shakespearean literature in English class. I treated my work with respect, and learned to think of myself as an artist.

    Scenesters Parker Bennett Quote

    Our countdown of the 2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School

    No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    No. 4: Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    No. 5: Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School
    No. 7: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School

    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters: Jessica Wood

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2017
     Scenesters Jessica Wood
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tuesday: Scenester profile No. 8.


    SCENESTER NO. 7: JESSICA WOOD

    • School: Denver Christian School
    • Class: Senior
    • Teacher: Tami Zietse
    • Your play title: Chill Winds
    • A Scen Free Trial Log in Open Save Share Add to HubBETA Make the ads disappear. Try Royale for free!esters Jessica Wood 800 2What is your play about? It's about the relationship between two sisters and their interactions with the residents of a small town on the eve of America's entrance into World War II.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? I saw Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie with my school and was struck by how effective the use of sound can be in manipulating emotion. I attempted to write a play where action was secondary to sound, and where meaning was based as much on tone as dialogue.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: "Chattanooga." 
    • Killer casting: I would pick Sierra McCormick to play Eden because I think she'd do an excellent job portraying the intricacies of the character.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I learned a whole lot about flower symbolism and more than I ever thought I'd need to know about the military drafting process before Pearl Harbor.

    • (Photo above and right: Jessica Wood, center, was one of three 2016 Scenester finalists along with Kendra Knapp, right, and Gabrielle Moore, right. To read Jessica's 2015 Scenester profile, click here. She is also featured in the video below.)
    A Scenesters Jessica Wood quote

    Our countdown of the 2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School

    No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    No. 4: Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School
    No. 5: Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Corinna Donovan and Walker Carroll, Crested Butte Community School

    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scensters: Amelia Middlebrooks

    by John Moore | Jan 06, 2017
    Scenesters Amelia Middlebrooks
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Monday: Scenester profile No. 6.


    SCENESTER NO. 5: AMELIA MIDDLEBROOKS

    • School: Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch
    • Class: Junior
    • Teacher: Kurt Muenstermann
    • Your play title: The Mistress of Stories
    • What is your play about? It's about growing up, and how difficult that is. How finding help and guidance is crucial, and sometimes no matter how hard it is to do, we have to break away from what is toxic in our lives to truly grow. 
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? My own experiences, as well as the movie Take the Lead, the real story of a dance teacher who believed in the talent of a group of problem kids. High school is difficult to navigate, so an adult role model is always helpful to have.
    • A Scenester 5 Amelia DowneyFavorite word that appears in your script: "Swordplay." 
    • Killer casting: I would have Robert Downey Jr. play Maxwell because he's relatively short in real life and could probably understand a bit of where the character comes from, But he's also very charismatic and humorous and he could add a bit of needed levity.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I really learned the importance of good friends and people in your life who will tell you when to sever the toxic relationships in your life. Friends are often underrated, and I feel like they are often what hold us firm in the stormiest of seas.

    A Scenester 5 Amelia Quote

    A look back: Amelia was also a playwriting semifinalist in 2016

    Our countdown of the 2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School

    No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School
    No. 4: Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes, Fossil Ridge High School

    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters: Abby Meyer and Nic Rhodes

    by John Moore | Jan 05, 2017
    Scenesters. Abby Meyer Nic Rhodes. Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tomorrow: Scenester profile No. 5.

    SCENESTER NO. 4: ABBY MEYER AND NIC RHODES

    • School: Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins
    • Class: Juniors
    • Teacher: Kristin Rust
    • Your play title: Imaginary Friends
    • What is your play about? This play takes the audience through the mind of schizophrenic high school boy. Unaware of his own disorder, he can't distinguish between reality and his mind. As he drifts further into himself and away from reality, we meet his only sense of comfort: His imaginary friends. 
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? In our sophomore yearScenesters Abby Meyer Nic Rhodes Casting, we were both cast in a one-act play about a suicidal teen girl, which inspired us to write this story together. We both have people in our lives affected by mental disorders, and we wrote it to honor them and raise awareness in a previously untold way.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: "Babe." 
    • Killer casting: We would cast Sarah Hyland of Modern Family (pictured right) as Hazel/Hannah because Hazel is the comedic relief of the show. Sarah could be that bubbly personality the play needs without compromising the serious overall tone.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? We both discovered a passion for playwriting, along with learning how all-consuming it is to create a world.
    Scenesters Abby Meyer Nic Rhodes Quote


    Our countdown of the 2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School
    No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak High School

    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters, No. 3: Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano

    by John Moore | Jan 04, 2017
    Scenesters Jasmin A. Hernandez LozanoToday at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tomorrow: Scenester profile No. 4.

    SCENESTER NO. 3: JASMIN A. HERNANDEZ LOZANO

    • School: Vista Peak Preparatory Academy in Aurora
    • Class: Sophomore
    • Teacher: Heathe Stecklein
    • Your play title: The Boy on the Tree
    • What is your play about? It's a remake of Rapunzel, with the genders reversed. Instead of there being a beautiful maiden with long hair in a tower, you have a boy named Aspen in a tree that signifies the tower. Instead of their being an evil witch to trap Rapunzel, this boy's own fear of life takes his freedom from him. A girl named Willow comes to this tree often, but she never receives a response. One day they both discover that silence between two people who care is the best cure for heartbreak. 
    • Logan LermanWhat was your inspiration for writing your play? There was a prompt I saw that asked us to write a story keeping in mind a fairy tale. I had just watched Rapunzel and, well, the rest is history.  
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: "Silence" It's not unusual to most, but it's a word I just barely have gotten used to.
    • Killer casting: It would definitely be Logan Lerman (pictured right) playing Aspen. He usually plays parts with boys who overcome their fears, and that's exactly what Aspen's trying to do: Become the stereotype society put for men of being strong and brave, yet since he can't he hides instead.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I learned there are worlds we haven't explored yet. And that people with sad memories have the best stories."
    A Scenester Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano Quote


    Our countdown of the 2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School
    No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School


    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in 46 Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 15 counties around the state, including Gunnison, Garfield, El Paso, Chaffee and Ouray.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters, No. 2: Ryan Patrick McCormick

    by John Moore | Jan 03, 2017
    Scenesters Ryan Patrick McCormickToday at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tomorrow: Scenester profile No. 3.

    SCENESTER NO. 2: RYAN PATRICK McCORMICK

    • School: Fort Collins High School
    • Class: Senior
    • Teacher: Jason Tyler
    • Your play title: Spilt Lava
    • A Scenester Stranger ThingsWhat is your play about? A boy and girl float across each other in a world where the floor is lava. 
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? The way uncertainty paralyzes us, especially when love is involved.  
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: "Planetarily"
    • Killer casting: That kid from Stranger Things with the missing teeth would be a good fit for the boy. (Gaten Matarazzo, pictured above and right). He's innocent yet boisterous - kind of like how Scrappy-Doo should have been.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This Orson Welles quote means a lot more to me now: "If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."
    Our countdown of the 2017 'Scenesters' (to date):
    No. 1: Sarah Shapard, Overland High School



    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in many more around the state. 

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 138 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The 2017 Scenesters, No. 1: Sarah Shapard

    by John Moore | Jan 02, 2017
    A Scenester Sarah Shapard. 2017 Teen Playwriting Semifinalist. Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we begin our exciting daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fourth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Jan. 13, we will announce the three scripts that will be read at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.) Tomorrow: Scenester profile No. 2.

    SCENESTER NO. 1: SARAH SHAPARD

    • School: Overland High School
    • Class: Senior
    • Teacher: Eric Eidson
    • Play titleWaiting
    • What is your play about? A woman wakes up in a place called “The In-Between.” It's somewhere between Earth and the Afterlife, and it's for people with unfinished business. There, this woman meets a young girl named Claire, who died in the early 1900s. The play is about how you need to come to terms with yourself before you can resolve anything else.
    • A Raffey Cassidy teen playwritingWhat was your inspiration for writing your play? I find it interesting how people often lie to each other, but they lie to themselves even more. I wanted to write about the importance of coming to terms with yourself and letting go of those lies. I think that’s the only way to move on with your life.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: “Wisenheimer.” It means a know-it-all. It's an appropriate insult for a character to use who lived in the early 1900s.
    • Killer casting: I would cast Raffey Cassidy in the role of Claire, the child who died in the early 1900s and has been in the “In-Between” ever since. Cassidy (pictured right) played Athena in the Disney movie Tomorrowland, which was a very similar role - a child who thinks she is wiser than all of the adults in the story. The difference is that Athena actually was smarter than most of the other characters in Tomorrowland, while Claire doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? I wrote this play for a summer class, and honestly, I thought my script was amazing. But when we we read it out loud and talked about it, it I realized no one understood what it meant. In fact, no one even understood the concept. So I ended up rewriting the entire thing from scratch, and it turned out so much better. The experience of completely changing a script was very valuable. It was a lot of work, but it was totally worth it to take the bare bones of what worked from the first draft and start over to create a much better play in the end.
    A Scenester Sarah Shapard Sample

    A look back at our profiles of the 2016 Scenesters:

    No. 1: Jafei Pollitt, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 2: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian High School
    No. 3: Kristine Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
    No. 4: Gabrielle Moore, D'Evelyn High School
    No. 5: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Kalina Gallardo, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    No. 7: Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 8: Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw, Chatfield Senior High School
    No. 9: Kendra R. Knapp, Valor Christian High School
    No. 10: Jacob Kendrick, Peak to Peak Charter School

    About the 2017 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 138 playwriting workshops in Colorado high schools. More than 2,823 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in many more around the state. 

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 132 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2017.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman/Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Video bonus: Student readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit:

    Video: We talked with the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and looked in as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.
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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.