Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit

by John Moore | Jan 17, 2017
A Playwriting Scenester finalists 800Meet your 2017 Scenesters: Teen playwriting finalists (from left) Parker Bennett, Jasmin A. Hernandez Lozano, Ryan Patrick McCormick and Jessica Wood.



The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced a record four finalists for its fourth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition for Colorado high-school students:

  • Parker Bennett, Fossil Ridge High School, Counting in Clay MEET PARKER
  • Jessica Wood, Denver Christian School, Chill Winds MEET JESSICA
  • Ryan Patrick McCormick, Fort Collins High School, Spilt Lava MEET RYAN
  • Jasmin Hernandez Lozano, Vista Peak Preparatory Academy, The Boy on the Tree
    MEET JASMIN

Because of a tie, an unprecedented fourth finalist was named. The four will receive mentoring from a professional playwright and have their plays read by professional actors at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, in The Conservatory Theatre. Finalists also receive a $250 cash scholarship and complimentary pass to all Summit activities.

A Playwriting Scenester finalists QuoteWood is the first student in the competition's history to place as a finalist two years in a row. Two of the finalists come from different high schools in Fort Collins. The finalists' plays represent a wide swath of storytelling ranging from a gender-bending variation on Rapunzel, to a modern take on Frankenstein, to a historical drama about sisters on the eve of World War II, to the love story of a boy and girl “who float across each other in a world where the floor is lava.”

DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals first determined 10 semifinalists from  132 submissions received from high-school students across the state. The blind judging produced a first - twins sisters Sarah and Samantha Shapard of Overland High School both made the top 10.

From that field, a record  four finalists were chosen, up from three in previous years. After the Colorado New Play Summit, one of the four scripts will be selected for full production during DCPA Education’s 2017 summer program.

“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. “We launched the one-act play playwriting competition in 2013 to nurture Colorado’s promising young playwrights, create new plays and inspire creativity. In just four short years, we’ve been overwhelmed with the response: 577 submissions and nearly 12,000 students served through the program, giving voice to the next generation of American theatre.”

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.

Our profiles 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


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. </p?>

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  1. Bob Newman | Jan 19, 2017

    Hi John,

    Just wanted you to know that Judi and I are thrilled with the success of this program.  Writing has become something of a lost art; we all encounter bad grammar, poor structure and often painful shortcuts every day, including the broadcast news and sports reporting. 

    As such, our goal was not (necessarily) to create professional authors but simply to allow many students to experience the challenge and reward of creating thoughtful and precise composition.  The participants probably received some valuable mentoring and editing advice along the way, all good whatever their career aspirations.

    Great to have you at the DCPA!

    Best wishes,

    Bob & Judi Newman

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    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.

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