• 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 (to date)


    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.
  • Meet the cast: Steven Cole Hughes of 'An Act of God'

    by John Moore | Oct 31, 2016

    Steven Cole Hughes, left, with Wesley Taylor in 'An Act of God.' Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET STEVEN COLE HUGHES

    The archangel Michael in An Act of God

    Steven Cole Hughes QuoteSteven Cole Hughes is a playwright, actor, director and educator. He has spent 11 seasons as an actor with the DCPA Theatre Company, with credits including Just Like Us, All My Sons, Blue/Orange, The Lonesome West, The Three Sisters, The Misanthrope, Hamlet and Tantalus. He has spent six seasons with Creede Repertory Theatre and three seasons with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He teaches playwriting for DCPA Education, and is a Resident Playwright at Creede Rep. His full-length plays include The Bad Man, Billy Hell (Denver Post Ovation Award for Best New Work), Slabtown, cowboyily, Arabia, Battleground State, Dogs by Seven, and Poor Devils.  Productions and commissions have come from Bloomington Playwrights Project, The Coterie Theatre, Curious Theatre Company, DCPA Theatre Company and the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. He is the co-artistic director of Fight or Flight, a New York City-based theatre company for whom he has adapted and directed Shakespeare’s Richard II and Henry V, and Melville’s Moby Dick. He won the 2011 Denver Post Ovation Award for Special Achievement for his trilogy of plays The Billy Trilogy.

    • Twitter-sized bio: I’m a new father and an actor. In that order.
    • Hometown: Born in Syracuse (New York), grew up in Indiana, lived in Chicago and New York City, but Denver is my hometown now. 
    • Training: I have a B.A. in Theatre from Indiana University, and I am a proud graduate of the Denver Center’s National Theatre Conservatory
    • What was the role that changed your life? When I was younger and living in Chicago, I was in one of my favorite plays by one of my favorite playwrights – A Lie of the Mind by Sam Shepard – and I realized that I wasn’t very good. That’s when I decided to come to Denver to go to grad school.
    • Steven Cole Hughes. Teen playwriting. Photo by John Moore. Why are you an actor? I hated running, so professional soccer player wasn’t going to happen.
    • Ideal scene partner: First choice is Meryl Streep, always. Second choice is David Tennant. (The nerds know what I’m talkin’ about!)
    • Why does An Act of God matter? This play does what good theatre should: It delivers a serious message while still being super funny and entertaining.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing it? I hope they laugh - a lot - but also listen to what is being said.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "...Heather and Birdie (my wife and daughter)."
    (Pictured above right: Steven Cole Hughes has been involved in DCPA's year-round teen playwriting program for the past three years. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Steven Cole Hughes. The Lying Kind. TheatreWorks
    Steven Cole Hughes appeared with Sammie Joe Kinnett in 'The Lying Kind,' also directed by Geoffrey Kent, for Colorado Springs TheatreWorks in 2014.

    An Act of God
    : Ticket information

    • The story: God takes human form in this critically acclaimed new comedy direct from Broadway. He's finally arrived to set the record straight.
    • Through March 12, 2017
    • Garner-Galleria Theatre
    • ASL interpreted, Audio-described and Open Captioned performance: TBA
    • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Groups: Call 303-446-4829

    Selected Previous NewsCenter coverage:
    Wesley Taylor, An Act of God
    Casting announced for An Act of God
    A day in the busy life of Director Geoffrey Kent
    Interview: Geoffrey Kent on a laugh-a-minute God
    Geoffrey Kent's 2015 True West Award

    More 2016-17 DCPA Theatre Company 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grindei, Frankenstein
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein and Siren Song http://dcpa.today/4bn1Sq
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
  • Video: DCPA's high-school playwriting winner is staged

    by John Moore | Aug 03, 2016


    The DCPA's third annual year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition culminated June 17 with two public performances of Kendra Knapp’s Sonder. The playwright is a recent graduate of Valor Christian High School.

    Sonder. Photo by John Moore. Last fall, DCPA Education staff members conducted 145 classroom workshops for 3,100 Colorado students. That resulted in 212 one-act play submissions from young writers all over the state. A team of professional adjudicators determined 10 semifinalists. Of those, three were selected to have their plays workshopped by the DCPA Education staff and read by professional actors at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in February.

    Video: Finalist readings at the New Play Summit

    From there, Sonder was selected for a fully staged  production. The video above takes you there. Interviewees include Knapp, Sonder Director Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski, DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous, and actors Avery Dell and Desmond Jackson (pictured above).

    Sonder follows a community of young people who are seeking real connection, but from the safety and distance of the internet.

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

    Our complete 2015-16 Student Playwriting photo gallery:

    2016 Student Playwriting Competition
    Photos from rehearsal through performances of the three finalist readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of the Student Playwriting Competition:
    Video, pic, story: Stirring the passions of student writers ... and future engineers
    2016 finalists named for Regional High School Playwriting Competition
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative
    Direct link to our Flickr photo gallery

    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists:
    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

    Sonder playwright Kendra Knapp. Photo by John Moore.

    "Sonder" playwright Kendra Knapp. Photo by John Moore.
  • Video, story: Stirring the passions of student writers ... and future engineers

    by John Moore | Jun 07, 2016

    In the video above, we interview the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and look at performance excerpts 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 DCPA's third annual year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition will culminate Friday, June 17, with two free, fully staged performances of student playwright Kendra Knapp’s Sonder in the Denver Center's Conservatory Theatre.

    Last fall, DCPA Education staff conducted 145 classroom workshops for 3,100 Colorado students. That resulted in 212 one-act play submissions from young writers all over the state - up from 158 the year before. A team of professional adjudicators determined 10 semifinalists. Of those, three were selected to have their plays workshopped by the DCPA Education staff and read by professional actors at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in February. They were:

    Knapp, a recent graduate of Valor Christian High School, was a top-10 finalist last year. This year, her newest play was singled out for full production. Sonder follows a community of young people who are seeking real connection, but from the safety and distance of the internet.


    Our complete Student Playwriting photo gallery:

    2016 Student Playwriting Competition
    Photos from rehearsal through performances of the three finalist readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Knapp said it was “super exciting” to get into the top 10 last year, and decided it was worth doing again. “When I got in the top three, I figured there’s really no worst-case scenario for me," she said.

    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous said the purpose of the teen writing initiative is to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    Teen playwriting quote“This program is all about inspiring the passion of playwriting in the next generation of writers,” she said. But playwriting promotes a variety of life skills, no matter what profession they one day choose. Knapp, for example, is headed to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., where she will study aerospace engineering. “But I will probably still be writing, too,” Knapp said.

    Submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and educational professionals. The three finalists each receive a cash scholarship of $250. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists receives a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    Knapp’s play was then further selected for a full production this summer. The staging will be directed by DCPA Education Head of Acting Tim McCracken and performed by actors from the DCPA's summer education classes.

    At a time when much of the national theatre dialogue is focused on the lack of fair female representation among American playwrights, it was telling that all three of the student finalists are young women.

    I think that‘s great, especially because it was picked blind," said Wood, a rising senior at Denver Christian School. "We know we were not being picked just because we are women - we were picked because we have talent, and we have abilities, and it’s great that the DCPA is helping us realize this."

    Added Moore: "I really appreciate the DCPA for not feeling the need to fill a quota, and that we’re being appreciated for our talent, no matter what age or gender or background we come from."

    Another commonality the three finalists share is faith. Two of the writers attend faith-based schools - Valor Christian and Denver Christian - and the third writer (Moore) wrote her play about a young woman who goes on a meaningful search to understand how God’s fallen angel came to be known as the Devil.
    Student Playwrights Sonder

    From left: Student playwriting finalists Kendra Knapp, Jessica Wood and Gabrielle Moore. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The finalists found it refreshing that the adjudicators were clearly open to stories with a religious theme, which is not always the case in the theatre.

    “I think there are certain stigmas about both the theatre and the church,” said Wood. “On the surface, they seem opposed to each other, but I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think it’s really cool that you can be a member of the church and still be a writer in the theatre, which isn’t something a whole lot of people think you can do.”

    Moore was worried that making the Devil a central character in her play might be taken the wrong way. "Offending people was not the goal at all,” she said. “I wanted to tell a side of the story we typically don’t hear in church. I’ve heard pastors tell us that we need to avoid the Devil - but I’ve never really understood why."

    Reserve your free seat to see Sonder

    Knapp’s play has no religious overtones but she says she’s used to facing prejudice as a woman, a Hispanic, a person of faith and a theatre kid. “I’m used to people meeting me and then having this taste in their mouth where they go, “You’re from a Christian school? And you're into theatre?” I’m used to that attitude. But then I come here to the Denver Center and they just say, “OK, let’s get to work.” And I’m like, “Wait, you’re not going to ask me about my political views? Where’s the interrogation?”

    Each finalist was mentored during the Colorado New Play Summit in February by a commissioned playwright with the Denver Center Theatre Company: Rogelio Martinez (Knapp), Anne García-Romero (Moore) and Lauren Yee (Wood), all of whom are developing new plays for the DCPA’s right of first refusal.

    “Rogelio had some ideas and insights for the play that hadn’t been presented to me by any other voice,” said Knapp. "It’s just a really good feeling to get feedback from someone you know is established who says to you genuinely, 'This is good.' ”

    Student Playwrights Sonder
    The cast and creative teams from the three student playwriting readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The three finalists and their plays are featured in the video report at the top of this page. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: What did you think when you found out you were in the top three?

    Gabrielle Moore: My mom told me I had to look at this email because it was really important. And I was like, “Mom you’re probably misinterpreting it. They’re probably just saying, ‘Thank you for your submission’ - not that I actually won. When I read it, I was genuinely amazed.

    Jessica Wood: When I found out I was in the top three, I was really excited, because I put quite a lot of work into it. To see my work realized and accepted meant a whole lot. It was really great.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Kendra Knapp: I showed the email to my dad and he was like, “Wow, that’s super exciting!” And then I had this sudden moment of dread where I was like, “Oh gosh, I’m going to have to actually talk to people. No! I have to put on a dress! I can’t just sit in my pajamas all day!"

    John Moore: How did it help your writing to work with a director from the DCPA Education team?

    Jessica Wood: Shortly after I was selected, Mr. (Steven Cole) Hughes sent me some notes that said he liked my play, but there definitely were places where we can improve it. So I made some changes before I even went into rehearsal. Then I met my wonderful director (Allison Watrous), all of my actors, and they’re all great. We sat down and read the whole play through, and I said, “OK, I can definitely see some structural weaknesses.” So I changed my play - and then the next day, I changed it again. I think I had a rewrite every single day. And by the time we were done, I got to understand the whole feeling of the play. I got to learn how to best impact the ears of the audience, what sounds pleasing and what doesn’t, and really what makes for a good script.

    John Moore: What was it like to see a professional reading of your work?

    Gabrielle Moore: Starting out with an idea a year ago and getting to watch it develop into being on the stage was incredible. Even though there were some rewrites, my director Patrick (Elkins-Zeglarski) ensured me that I know what’s best for this play, that this is my authentic voice, and I could put in whatever I want, to an extent. It was nice to know that this is still my play, even though the DCPA has been nice enough to take care of it for me.

    John Moore: What was it like to hear audience responses for the first time?

    Jessica Wood: When the the lights went down for my play, I just felt this moment of sudden, sick dread because I was convinced that everyone would hate it. It’s really terrifying when you have a live audience because you don’t know how they’re going to react. You don’t know if they’re going to connect. You don’t know if they are going to be bored out of their minds. And if that happens, you’re to blame for that. But they were great. They were kind, they were polite, they laughed, and hopefully they cried a little bit.

    John Moore: How is this whole experience emboldening you?

    Gabrielle Moore: I learned a lot about myself through the writing process, especially through my character, Teresa. Because I’ve had trouble understanding everything I need to know about being a Catholic. And writing this play really helped because I did a lot of research on Mother Teresa. She said a lot of times when she prayed, she wasn’t sure if God was always there. But that didn’t stop her from doing good things and being a good person. I think she’s such an amazing woman to do that. I just want to keep being a good person and being a good writer and impact other people to do good through plays like this.

    Jessica Wood: I definitely think there’s a bit of a look that you get from adults when you tell them you write. They say, “Do you, really?” And then here comes this opportunity at the Denver Center where they say, “Yes, you are a writer. Now why don’t you give us some of your writing and let us help you make it better?”

    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.

    Sonder: Performance information
    1:30 and 7 p.m., Friday, June 17
    Conservatory Theatre in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education 1101 13th St.
    This performance is free, but an RSVP is requested by clicking here 

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of the Student Playwriting Competition:
    2016 finalists named for Regional High School Playwriting Competition
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative
    Direct link to our Flickr photo gallery


    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists:
    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

     

  • Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    by John Moore | Mar 16, 2016


    Our brief video look back at the DCPA Theatre Company's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit Feb. 12-21 in Denver.

    CNPS16 Regina TaylorIncludes interviews with featured playwrights Lauren Gunderson, Tira Palmquist, José Cruz González and Mat Smart.

    "I think everyone who knows new plays knows the Colorado New Play Summit," said Gunderson, whose play The Book of Will was later chosen for inclusion on the company's 2016-17 season, as was Palmquist's Two Degrees.

    Interviewees also include local and high-school playwrights whose work was featured as part of Summit activities.

    Video by Topher Blair, footage by David Lenk and interviews by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photo above: Commissioned DCPA playwright Regina Taylor reads at the Playwrights Slam.

    Check out more of our Colorado theatre coverage

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of 2016 Summit (to date):
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Summit Spotlight video: Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    Summit Spotlight Video: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Summit Spotlight Video: Mat Smart, Midwinter
    Local Playwright Slam: Video coverage and interviews
    DCPA rolls out the welcome mat: It's Summit weekend
    2016 Summit playwrights introduce their featured works
    Three major Summit events to be streamed live
    Featured playwrights named for 2016 Summit
    Audio: Colorado Public Radio on the 2016 New Play Summit

    2016 Colorado New Play Summit Photo Gallery:

    2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    Our complete photo gallery from the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the forward arrow on the photo above. To download any photo for free, click on it and follow instructions. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    CNPS16 logo
  • Finalists for Regional High School Playwriting Competition named

    by NewsCenter Staff | Jan 19, 2016
    2016 Scenesters: Teen playwriting finalists
    Meet your 2016 Scenesters: Teen playwriting finalists (from left) Kendra Knapp, Gabrielle Moore and Jessica Wood.


    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has today announced the three finalists for the third annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition for Colorado high-school students:

    • Dark River by Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School READ MORE
    • Divinity of Hell by Gabrielle Moore, D’Evelyn High School READ MORE
    • Sonder by Kendra Knapp, Valor Christian School READ MORE

    All three finalists will receive mentorship from a professional playwright and a staged reading at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. One of the finalists will also have their play produced during DCPA Education’s 2016 summer program.

    Knapp also placed as a top-10 semifinalist last year, but did not advance to the final three. She entered again this year and her play was selected. All submissions were read by blind draw, so the judges did not know the identity of the playwrights.

    “These young playwrights are the next generation of theatre. It is our responsibility and our privilege to encourage them and give them the tools to succeed,” said DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous. “This year we received a whopping 212 submissions from high-school students across 18 counties. The three finalists will be paired up with working Colorado theatre professionals and will have their plays brought to life by professional actors as a part of the Colorado New Play Summit.”

    The 2015-16 Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition served 3,110 students and 82 teachers in 60 schools over 18 counties, including Alamosa, LaPlata, Montezuma, Ouray and Weld. Teaching artists conducted 145 workshops that resulted in a record-breaking number of play submissions.

    Each finalist’s Theatre or Language Arts teacher will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. Finalists also receive a $250 cash scholarship and complimentary pass to any reading or production at the Summit.



    2015-16 Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition Finalists: (Alphabetical by play title):

    Black and Blue
    by Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    Daffodil
    by Kristine Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
    Dark Wood by Jessica Wood, Denver Christian High School
    Divinity of Hell by Gabrielle Moore, D'Evelyn High School
    Don't; Quixotic by Kalina Gallardo, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    Empty Space by Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe, Denver School of the Arts
    Home in the Garden by Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw, Chatfield High School
    Mahdi
    by Jacob Kendrick, Peak to Peak Charter School
    Moonlight by Jafei Pollitt, Denver School of the Arts
    Sonder, by Kendra R. Knapp, Valor Christian High School

    ________________________________________________________________

    More on the 2016 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools.  

    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 212 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. That represents a 34 percent growth in submissions from 2014. 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 2016.

    These back-to-back videos begin with the three teen play readings at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit through the full staging of the winning play last summer.
  • 2016 Scenesters, No. 10: Jacob Kendrick

    by John Moore | Jan 15, 2016
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we conclude our exciting daily countdown of the 10  student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our third annual statewide playwriting competition. (Details below.)

    Jacob 340 2Scenesters No. 10: Jacob Kendrick

    School: Peak to Peak Charter School

    Teacher: Kristie Letter

    Play title: Mahdi

    What is your play about? My play follows a group of 10 Syrian nationals as they flee to Lebanon and eventually Europe to escape the ongoing violence in Syria. Along the way, they experience a catastrophic car crash, a heated religious debate that turns violent and threats from a vigilante border guard.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: "Inshallah."

    Excerpt from your play: MOHAMMAD: "Look around! Our country is ravaged by war and here we are, three families with three children, fleeing our birthplace just to escape death. I haven’t felt safe or happy, and I’m willing to bet you all haven’t either. So you believe in Him? How?"

    Who was your inspiration for writing your play? It stemmed simply from listening to NPR in the morning and being shocked to hear about all the Syrian refugees who have lost their lives trying to escape their own country. Though perhaps somewhat fantastical, my play was written with the intention of breathing life into those death-toll numbers and illuminating the trauma of undergoing such a crossing.

    Killer casting: Perhaps surprisingly, I would cast Anne Hathaway to portray the character Shayma, the loving and resilient mother of two. On top of having the potential to appear Middle Eastern, I feel Hathaway would brilliantly capture Shayma’s intricate emotions while simultaneously portraying her strength and vitality throughout the journey.

    What did you learn from writing this play? In writing my play, I was able to better familiarize myself with the ongoing Syrian civil war that has displaced all of these refugees, and learn about the overall demographic makeup and stories of some of those who were displaced. I also learned how difficult it is to write a fictional story that is centered around current events because it was difficult to be realistic and capture all the intricacies of such a complex issue in a short play.



    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists:
    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 Denver Center’s 2016 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education staff members taught 145 playwriting workshops in 60 Colorado high schools. More than 3,110 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 18 counties, including Alamosa, LaPlata, Montezuma, Ouray and Weld.  

    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 212 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. That represents a 34 percent growth in submissions from 2014. 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 2016.

    These back-to-back videos begin with the three teen play readings at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit through the full staging of the winning play last summer.
  • 2016 Scenesters, No. 9: Kendra R. Knapp

    by John Moore | Jan 13, 2016
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our exciting daily countdown of the 10  student playwrights have been named semifinalists for our third annual statewide playwriting competition. (Details below.)

    Sceneter Kendra R. Knapp Scenester No. 9:  Kendra R. Knapp

    School: Valor Christian High School

    Teacher: Kurt Muenstermann

    Play title: Sonder

    What is your play about? How media and technological communication both distance people and draw them together at the same time. And how even with copious amounts of communication, important things still can become lost in translation.

    F
    avorite word that appears in your script: "AMERI-TRUCK."

    Excerpt from your play: DARLING: "You mean like, how every single person you see just walking along has a whole life with things going on just like you and - and you’re not in on it at all, you’re just sorta... there."

    Who was your inspiration for writing your play? I suppose you could say the world is my inspiration. (MY world, anyway). We teenagers are almost always communicating with others and using some kind of technological device to do it, but all you really get to see of the other person is their words. That's why the vast majority of the lines in my play are some kind of text that you would see on a screen.

    Killer casting: I would cast Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) as Charlotte because Charlotte is meant to be endearingly cheeky, and Ellen Page has displayed just the right amount of charm in her past roles.

    What did you learn from writing this play? It's hard to make people you've invented seem "real," especially when you have to have them establish who they are through their own mouths. They have to say things that both seem realistic for people to say and also communicate the story and the character how you want.


    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists (to date):
    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 High School

    ________________________________________________________________

    About the Denver Center’s 2016 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education staff members taught 145 playwriting workshops in 60 Colorado high schools. More than 3,110 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 18 counties, including Alamosa, LaPlata, Montezuma, Ouray and Weld.  

    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 212 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. That represents a 34 percent growth in submissions from 2014. 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 2016.

    These back-to-back videos begin with the three teen play readings at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit through the full staging of the winning play last summer.
  • 2016 Scenesters, No. 8: Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw

    by John Moore | Jan 13, 2016
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our exciting daily countdown of the 10  student playwrights have been named semifinalists for our third annual statewide playwriting competition. (Details below.)

    A 300 Sceneters Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGrawScenesters No. 8:  Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw

    School: Chatfield Senior High School

    Teacher: Andrew Keat

    Play title: Home in the Garden

    What is your play about? Home in the Garden is about a boy's struggle with his sexuality. Henry struggles with his homophobic mother, his father's heart problems and his own inner demons. When Henry meets Adam, he can't help but feel the love. It connects to the adolescent struggle and the search for a home.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: Stephanie: "Godforsaken." Mady: "Morality."

    Excerpt from your play: HENRY: "I’m gay, all right? And my Mom knows. She doesn't talk about it. Ever. Like, she’s afraid that as soon as she brings it up, it’ll make it so there’s no turning back for me. I’ve never felt loved or accepted by her. Or myself really. My Dad didn't care, because he knew it was still me. That I was still his son. But even with him I’ve never known a constant home. And now he’s dead, the only one who loved
    me for who I was. I’m alone, Adam. I’m alone."

    Who was your inspiration for writing your play? The struggles of LGBTQ+ teens inspired this play because there are still homeless teenagers who've been kicked out of homes. Many of these teens feel isolated, and the suicide rate is much higher among that group. It's really hard to come out, and many never do. We understand the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, as Mady herself is part of it.

    Killer casting: We'd cast Logan Lerman as Henry because he's very capable of showing teenage vulnerability and understands what it means to feel isolated and alone. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, he showed the inner struggle of a teenager suffering with mental illness. Henry suffers with his inner demons in the same way.

    What did you learn from writing this play?
    Stephanie: We learned that teamwork is really important because we had to make sure both of us liked what we had written. We also learned the importance of character development as we explored Henry throughout the play.

    Mady: We learned that working together toward the same goal was necessary for us to write our characters with the depth and meaning that we wanted them to have. We also found it a wonderful challenge to write growing relationships between these characters, especially Adam and Henry's.



    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists (to date):
    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 High School

    ________________________________________________________________

    About the Denver Center’s 2016 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education staff members taught 145 playwriting workshops in 60 Colorado high schools. More than 3,110 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 18 counties, including Alamosa, LaPlata, Montezuma, Ouray and Weld.  

    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 212 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. That represents a 34 percent growth in submissions from 2014. 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 2016.

    These back-to-back videos begin with the three teen play readings at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit through the full staging of the winning play last summer.
  • 2016 Scenesters, No. 7: Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe

    by John Moore | Jan 12, 2016
    Today at the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our exciting daily countdown of the 10  student playwrights have been named semifinalists for our third annual statewide playwriting competition. (Details below.)

    Scenesters. Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffeScenester No. 7:  Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe

    School: Denver School of the Arts

    Teacher: Brandon Becker

    Play title: Empty Space

    What is your play about? The difficulties of living in small-town America and falling in love with the wrong person. It is about a strange interaction between a girl and a boy who clearly once loved each other very much. It is also about the significance of a young oak tree.

    Favorite word that appears in your script: "Somber."

    Excerpt from your play: GIRL: "Do you think I enjoy being stuck in this no-good racist town surrounded by nothing but wheat and cows for miles? It’s (crap). Everyone here pretends that they have this ideal little life. Small town, a close-knit community of friends helping each other out. It's exactly what people that don’t live here see it as. I want to go somewhere where people are actually real with each other."

    Who was your inspiration for writing your play? Partly from hearing about police brutality and all of the disgusting things that people do because of prejudice. I also was inspired by my own experience as a high school student struggling with parents and relationships while constantly being pressured to think about my future. My play is hardly autobiographical, but it is very much about being a teenager in a day and age where adolescents voices are constantly quieted.

    Killer casting: I would want Taissa Farmiga to play the girl. I think she has a perfect, innocent yet wise look that I imagined when writing. She is also extremely talented and good at playing characters with a lot of baggage, like Violet in American Horror Story. I also think that she is very beautiful but in a sort of subtle way, which is perfect for the girl.

    What did you learn from writing this play? It's hard to stick with something. I wrote so many drafts of this show, and I was shocked that I even finished it. I wasn’t even sure I was satisfied with the final draft, but I had to be confident in my work and submit it anyways, despite it’s imperfections. I know that as a writer there will always be things you want to tweak or change about your work, but you can’t do that forever, you have to have a final draft. So basically I learned that I needed to be confident with the art that I had created eventually, even if it wasn’t perfect. I also learned that perfection is unrealistic, and that stories don’t need to be perfect to be told successfully.



    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists (to date):
    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 High School

    ________________________________________________________________

    About the Denver Center’s 2016 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education staff members taught 145 playwriting workshops in 60 Colorado high schools. More than 3,110 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 18 counties, including Alamosa, LaPlata, Montezuma, Ouray and Weld.  

    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 212 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. That represents a 34 percent growth in submissions from 2014. 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 2016.

    These back-to-back videos begin with the three teen play readings at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit through the full staging of the winning play last summer.
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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.