The 2015 Scenesters, No. 2: Joshua Contreras

Today on Denver CenterStage, we continue our exciting daily countdown of the 10  student playwrights have been named semifinalists for our second annual statewide playwriting competition. (Details below.)

TEEN_Playwriting_JOSHUA_Contreras_400Scenester No. 2: Joshua Contreras

School: Gunnison High School

Teacher: Mr. David White

Play title: Open Mic

What is your play about? A poet and a musician compete for the attention of a lovely girl – an aspiring singer songwriter – using their respective art forms to woo her.

Favorite word that appears in your script: “Dramatic thermostat.” (Can I use two?)

Excerpt: ‘Allow me to make like Johann and be Bach later. Well, he was Bach all the time, now and later, and before, but, well … you get it.”

Who or what was your inspiration for writing your play? After my creative-writing class was visited by a representative from the DCPA named Stephen Cole Hughes, I became excited about the opportunity to write something that can come alive on a stage. I decided to follow the classic rule: Write what you know. Therefore, I selected three topics I’m quite familiar with: Writing, music … and bad luck with women.

Dream casting: The ages of my characters are intentionally ambiguous. If they were to be full-fledged adults, I would love to cast Zach Braff as Daniel. I’m a huge fan of his work, primarily Scrubs and Garden State, and I feel like he would be able to bring a sense of awkwardness and childishness that fits what I want for this character. Daniel is very sure of himself, but definitely shouldn’t be, which results in some awkward bumbling and is quite comical. I think Zach Braff can capture that.

What did you learn from writing this play? That it’s really difficult to maintain forward motion in character development and plot. I also learned that writing music, especially when it is supposed to develop a character, is incredibly challenging.


About the Denver Center’s 2014 Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

What: “Your Story. Our Stage”: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education staff members taught 143 playwriting workshops in 45 Colorado high schools. More than 2,899 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 13 counties, including Chafee, Larimer and Las Animas.

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 158 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 2014 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 Denver Center Theatre Academy students in the summer of 2015.

Our complete countdown of 2015 semifinalists (to date):

No. 1: Christina Arias of Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
No. 2: Joshua Contreras, Gunnison High School
No. 3: Keely Kritz of Denver School of the Arts
No. 4: Nathan Mast, Thomas B. Doherty High School
No. 5: Kiana Trippler, Thunder Ridge High School
No. 6: Ryan McCormick, Fort Collins High School
No. 7: Kaytlin Camp, Gunnison High School
Bonus: Read about 2014 winning teen playwright Laurain Park


Video from the teen play readings at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit

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