The 2017 Scenesters, No. 1: Sarah Shapard

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.


  • 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.

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