Emily Hahn and Mya Schaffer 2019 Scenesters

Scenesters: DCPA announces 2019 class of student playwriting finalists

2019 Scenesters

When adjudicators completed their blind judging of 181 student-submitted one-act plays, something remarkable became evident: All of the finalists are women.


Tomorrow, DCPA Education will reveal the three scripts to be presented at next month’s Colorado New Play Summit

Denver Center Education has announced the 10 finalists for its sixth annual statewide Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition, which this year drew 181 one-act plays for consideration – an 18 percent jump from last year.

Student playwriting Juliana Luce and Trinell Samuel.

‘Technical Difficulties,’ by the student playwriting team of Juliana Luce and Trinell Samuel, was a featured selection last year.

Tomorrow, DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals will announce here on the DCPA NewsCenter the three winning plays that will be read together at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 23,  in The Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre as a featured event of the 2019 Colorado New Play Summit.

The winning playwrights also will receive a $250 cash scholarship, mentorship from a professional playwright and complimentary passes to the Summit. In addition, each winner’s sponsoring teacher will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

One other new feature added this year: The three winning scripts each will have professional readings at their playwrights’ schools on Monday, February 25.

Read more: Our full report on the 2018 playwriting finalists

“We launched the one-act playwriting competition in 2013 to nurture Colorado’s young playwrights, create new plays and inspire creativity,” said Allison Watrous, the DCPA’s Executive Director of Education. “In just six years, we’ve been thrilled with the response: 911 submissions and nearly 17,000 students served through the program, giving voice to the next generation of American theatre.”

The Scenesters: 2018-19 Finalists

(Listed alphabetically by title)

  • The 12:30 Train by Sophie Greenway, Estes Park High School
  • Better Life by Mya Schaffer and Emily Hahn, Crested Butte Community School
  • Changes We Face by Simone Jenkins, Niwot High School
  • Delta Courtship by Bowie Tran, The Academy of Charter Schools
  • Después de la lluvia (After the Rain) by Katanu Mwendwa, DSST: Conservatory Green High School
  • Fake Profiles by Moudji Alassani, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
  • Flannel by Erin Fuller, Broomfield High School
  • The Hurricane by Ania Miecznik, Peak to Peak Charter School
  • Jazzercise Surprise! by Eden Farr, Heritage High School
  • Swiped Off Your Feet by Molly Karst (M.Rae K.), Colorado Academy
Student Playwriting Noah Jackson.

‘Wine Colored Lip Gloss,’ by Noah Jackson, was a featured selection last year. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

The Statera Foundation recently reported that in 2017, only 28 percent of plays produced on American stages were written by women. At this time of pronounced gender disparity in the American theatre, it’s worth noting that the DCPA’s statewide playwriting competition this year produced an entire slate of 11 female finalists (including one playwriting team). To be clear: The judges read each submission as a blind draw, meaning they were not provided the names of the writers and could not have known their genders. In its first six years, the DCPA’s statewide playwriting competition has now produced 75 percent female finalists  (50 out of 67). All the more impressive given those results have been completely organic.

“It is so incredible to see such an amazing wealth of vibrant and insightful plays from creative and smart young women,” Watrous said. ” We are truly honored to celebrate and foster the next generation of writers for the theatre.  It is awesome to see the power of teen writers and their authentic voices in the world.”

Julianna Luce went from playwriting winner to award-winning lighting designer in a matter of months last year. Photo by Emily Lozow.

Julianna Luce went from playwriting winner to award-winning lighting designer in a matter of months last year. Photo by Emily Lozow.

Giving equal voice to women in the theatre has long been a priority at the Denver Center. Since 2006, the Women’s Voices Fund has enabled the DCPA Theatre Company to commission, workshop and produce new plays by women. It is the first of its kind in the nation and is currently valued at more than $1.5 million. Since the establishment of the endowment fund in 2005, the DCPA Theatre Company has produced 30 plays by women (including 13 world premieres), commissioned 19 female playwrights and hired 23 female directors.

Last year, in a fun twist, Vista PEAK senior Julianna Luce was selected as a finalist for co-writing the play Technical Difficulties, a backstage comedy about a high-school theatre production that is saved from vengeful understudies by members of the tech crew. The play was later selected to be publicly staged by DCPA Education’s summer academy students. Luce is, herself, a theatre techie who in May was back at the Denver Center winning a Bobby G Award for Outstanding Lighting for Vista PEAK’s production of Into the Woods. In her acceptance speech. Luce said the award was especially meaningful to her given the DCPA’s commitment to encouraging creativity in young people across disciplines: “As Willy Wonka said, ‘We are the dreamers of the dreams,’ ” she said.

The coordinator of the DCPA’s  student playwriting program is 2017 True West Award winner Claudia Carson.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Online video bonus: A look back at the 2017-18 Scenesters

In the video above, DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore speaks with Executive Director of Education Allison Watrous and the student playwrights whose works were selected to be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Emmaleth Ryan of Grandview High School, Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel of Vista PEAK Preparatory and Noah Jackson of Girls Athletic Leadership School. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

The 2018-19 Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition is sponsored by The Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.