2016 Scenesters, No. 8: Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw

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.

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