Scenesters Katanu Mwendwa

The 2019 Scenesters: Katanu Mwendwa

Scenesters-Katanu Mwendwa 800

The DSST: Conservatory Green High School student is among three playwrights whose scripts will be presented at the Colorado New Play Summit

Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our countdown of the three winning Colorado student playwrights whose plays will be read on Saturday, February 23, at the 2019 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)

Katanu Mwendwa, DSST: Conservatory Green High School

  • Class: Sophomore
  • Teacher: Meriwether Joyner
  • Play title: Después de la lluvia (After the Rain)
  • What is your play about? It’s been three months since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and Mila could be doing better. Her brother is ill, her house is broken and she still isn’t sure if, or when, she’ll be going back to school. Mateo, on the other hand, is trying his best to provide for his family while also determining what he wants to do for his future. When they meet for the first time, they try to find a way to survive the destruction left by the storm.
  • Word play: What’s one unusual word that appears in your script? Leptospirosis
  • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Puerto Rico had been in the news a lot because of how hard Hurricane Maria hit the island, and I wanted to use this play as an opportunity to call attention to that. I knew that there was a lot still happening behind the scenes, and that there were people suffering who didn’t make it onto the news. I wanted to write about them.
  • Killer casting: I would pick Anthony Ramos for the role of Mateo, not only because of how great of an actor he is, but also because of his Puerto Rican roots. I think he’d be a great fit because of his performance as Justin Laboy in 21 Chump Street, where he showed he could play a teenage boy really well. He also looks similar to the way I envisioned the character.
  • Killer dialogue:

JUNIPER: “It’s Rafael. He won’t wake up.”

  • What did you learn from writing this play? I learned a lot about Puerto Rican culture and how the inhabitants of the island were affected by Hurricane Maria. I spent a lot of time trying to find a way to balance everything that happened in Puerto Rico recently with the culture and the way the characters interacted with each other, which was a challenge. Ultimately, it was a fun play to write, and it was fun to learn so much about Puerto Rican life.
  • What does it mean for you to be selected to the final three after making it to the top 10 last year? I think it truly shows my growth as a writer. This year, I tried to give myself as much time as possible before the deadline to make sure my writing was as great as possible, with my main motivation being the fact that I’d made it to the top 10 before, and planned to shoot for the top this year.

Colorado New Play Summit 2019See the student readings at the Colorado New Play Summit

  • Public reading 8 p.m. Saturday, February 23
  • Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre in the Newman Center for Theatre Education at 1101 13th St., at the corner of 13th and Arapahoe streets
  • The event is free but reservations are encouraged by clicking here

About the 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 170 playwriting workshops in 40 Colorado schools. A record 3,277 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 21 counties around the state. The objective was to introduce students to the craft of playwriting, and encourage them to submit their own plays for the competition.

The Scenesters: The full list of 10 2018-19 playwriting finalists

  • 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 181 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten finalists were initially selected, from which three winners were chosen. After a week of in-house workshopping at the Denver Center with trained actors, and mentorship from both DCPA Teaching Artists and a professional playwright, the three winning plays will be read at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 23, in The Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre. Each winner also will receive a cash scholarship of $250 and complimentary passes to the Colorado New Play Summit. One new feature this year: The three winning scripts each will have additional readings at their playwrights’ own schools in the coming weeks. In addition, each teacher of the three winners will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.
  • Sponsors: The Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

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. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter