The 2018 Scenesters: Katanu Mwendwa

2018 Scenesters Katanu Mwendwa

Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


  • Class: Freshman
  • SchoolDSST: Conservatory Green High School
  • Teacher: Nate Reaven
  • Your play title: Don’t Be Fooled By Murphy Manor
  • What is your play about? In 1959, a murder happened at Murphy Manor. Now, fifty-nine years later, three girls — Lee-Ann, Aliana and Freddy — team up with the ghost of Jeanne Randall to solve her murder. Along the way, they discover truths they never imagined possible, and rediscover their pasts.
  • What was your inspiration for writing your play? It was actually during our finals testing, when we were told to write an essay about Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr. Once finished, I considered the possibility of writing about the 1950s, right around when protests were starting to grow.
  • Favorite words that appear in your script: Flutter Bum.
  • ChinaAnneMcClainKiller casting: If I could cast one known actor in my play, I would choose China Ann McClain to play Jeanne Randall. Based on what I’ve seen, I think her personality is similar to Jeanne’s. She also looks like what I had in mind for Jeanne as well. I would also cast Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton) to play Lee-Ann Rivera. because she looks and sounds exactly like what I envisioned for Lee-Ann.
  • What did you learn from writing this play? How to create dimensional characters who are likable, but still have their own individual flaws and ideas that separate them from one another. I also learned a lot about the 1950s, For example, that the album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis came out around the same time the story took place.

Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights’ plays are performed


About the 2017-18 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 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties 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 153 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 2018 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 2018.

Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:

Video bonus: Last year’s playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *