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Insights from Dramaturg Mabelle Reynoso

January 21, 2016

Mabelle Reynoso is a teaching artist and commissioned playwright for Playwrights Project. Her relationship with Playwrights Project spans over 20 years, beginning when she won the California Young Playwrights Contest. She is delighted to make her debut as a dramaturg for Plays By Young Writers! Below are some of her thoughts and insights on the process of working with Jennifer Curiel on Fronteras Hechas del Dinero. 

Mabelle and Jennifer Smiling CROPPED

Tell us briefly about another theatre project (or projects) you’re working on outside of Plays by Young Writers.

I am currently a teaching artist at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility and I am working with the advanced playwriting class to create a collaborative script that will be produced at SDSU’s Experimental Theater in April. In addition, in February, I will begin facilitating a Border Lines/Líneas de la Frontera playwriting residency to capture the voices of the immigrant experience.

How does your work in the festival differ from your other work?

As a teaching artist for Playwrights Project, I get the chance to help students come up with ideas and get them going on their plays but I don’t often get the chance to spend a lot of time fleshing out a script, and that’s what I get to do with the festival. It’s wonderful to be able to focus on one script and to witness the evolution.

How do you define your role in the Plays by Young Writers production process?

Because the playwright is away at school (first year of college!), I attend rehearsals and am present for any questions the director or the actors may have. I provide suggestions to the playwright on how to strengthen the script and I also see myself as a bit of a cheerleader. It’s an exciting process and I can’t help but to be excited to be a part of it.

What is your favorite part about being involved with Plays by Young Writers?

I get to re-live history. I was once a Festival winner and it’s thrilling to be a part of this experience now as a dramaturg.

Any specific story or moment or insight you’d like to share about the writer or play you are currently working on?

I think Jennifer’s script tells a compelling story that embodies what I love about theater, which is to create empathy. Fronteras tells a story that we may not know firsthand, but it is a very real story that brings to the forefront the difficult choices some people have to make. This play simply draws you in and makes you ask yourself, “What would you do?”

What do you hope the young playwrights will learn from this experience?

I hope the playwrights truly appreciate how the words that they wrote took flight. What was born in the minds of these young writers resulted in a larger group of talent coming together to realize their visions. I think that’s pretty spectacular.

Fronteras Hechas del Dinero can be seen during Program A of Plays by Young Writers, on Saturday Jan. 30th at 7:30pm and Sunday Jan. 31st at 2pm. 

For more information and reservations, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or write@playwrightsproject.org. Visit http://www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw/. 

 

Recollections playwriting class with Founder Deborah Salzer starts in February!

January 12, 2016

Recollections Flyer FY16

Insights from Deborah Salzer, Dramaturg and Playwrights Project founder

January 6, 2016

Deborah Salzer founded Playwrights Project in 1985 and led the organization for 22 years. She has produced over 100 new plays, written the playwriting curriculum Stage Write, and now teaches educators and youth. Trained in acting and dance, she’s a graduate of Oberlin College and the Bank Street College of Education.

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Deborah is the dramaturg for Alara Margritte Slonaker’s play The Tangible Tollbooth (Program B). Below are a few of Deborah’s thoughts on the process.

Tell us briefly about another theatre project (or projects) you’re working on outside of Plays by Young Writers.

In February I will teach a Recollections workshop for Playwrights Project.  I also work with fifth graders at Doyle Elementary School, teaching drama and dance.

How does your work in the festival differ from your other work?

The Festival is unique because I work with one writer continuously over four months. The “curriculum” is shaped by the writer’s needs.  It is unpredictable and evolves as we work. In other situations, I support writers as they create first drafts. For the Festival my support extends through the entire production process. I help her collaborate with her director and designers, especially when she encounter elements new to her, such as the staging challenges inherent in an arena space.

How do you define your role in the Plays by Young Writers production process?

My role is to mentor the writer as she moves through the revision and production process. This includes being a sounding board for her concerns; asking questions; guiding her to strengthen her script; helping her clarify her vision; and doing factual and/or historical research if needed. Because she lives out of town, I am her eyes and ears at rehearsals.

What is your favorite part about being involved with Plays by Young Writers?

I love it all and have done so for thirty-one years.

What do you hope the young playwrights will learn from this experience?

I hope they learn that creating good theatre is a thrilling collaborative process.

Thank you, Deborah!

The Tangible Tollbooth can be seen during Program B of Plays by Young Writers, on Friday Jan. 29th at 7:30pm and Saturday Jan. 30th at 2pm. 

For more information and reservations, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or write@playwrightsproject.org. Visit http://www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw/. 

Insights from dramaturg Aleta Barthell

December 29, 2015

Aleta Barthell has been a part of Playwrights Project for over 15 years as a script evaluator, teaching artist, director and dramaturg. She is also a playwright, screenwriter and founder of the youth theater education program, Kids Act, in North County San Diego. Aleta is the dramaturg for Emily Midgley’s play, The Acquittal. Below are some insights from Aleta on the process of being involved with Plays by Young Writers.

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Aleta and playwright Emily Midgley working together in rehearsal

 

Tell us briefly about another theatre project (or projects) you’re working on outside of Plays by Young Writers.

I have been revising a script of my own called Window of Shame that is based on a New Orleans Ghost Story.  I am one of ten finalists for the Humanitas Playwriting Prize with Centre Theatre Group in Los Angeles.  I have been working with a directing/dramaturg in LA for upcoming readings of the piece in San Diego and Los Angeles.

I have also been developing a pilot for a TV series based on the life of the French queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

How does your work in the festival differ from your other work?

The Plays by Young Writers Festival is so very special because it brings so many talented artists together who bring their very best for these young writers.  There is a focus and collaboration that I do not easily find elsewhere.

How do you define your role in the Plays by Young Writers production process?

I feel that my role is to help guide the writer to make the very best play that she can.  I also provide a “home base” for the writer to ask questions or explore different ideas… a sounding board really.

What is your favorite part about being involved with Plays by Young Writers?

The first table read with actors before the Lights Up Ceremony.

Any specific story or moment or insight you’d like to share about the writer or play you are currently working on?

The playwright that I have been working with, Emily Midgley, is so smart, so observant and so dedicated that it has been an absolute joy to work with her.  We had a shared moment one night in rehearsal when I went to ask her about possibly cutting a line and she held up her script that had the same line already marked out.

What do you hope the young playwrights will learn from this experience?

That consistency and tenacity bring great results.

Thank you, Aleta!

The Acquittal can be seen during Program B of Plays by Young Writers, on Friday Jan. 29th 2016 at 7:30pm, and Saturday Jan. 30th at 2pm. Read our interview with playwright Emily Midgley here.

For more information and reservations, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or write@playwrightsproject.org. Visit http://www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw/. 

Interview with Alara Magritte Slonaker, winner of California Young Playwrights Contest 2015

December 16, 2015

Playwrights Project will produce its 31st annual festival of Plays by Young Writers, sponsored by the Sheila and Jeffrey Lipinsky Family Fund, at The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe on January 23 – January 31, 2015. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 269 plays submitted by students from across the state. Four scripts will receive full professional productions, and two scripts will receive staged readings in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

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The Tangible Tollbooth

By Alara Magritte Slonaker

Age 17, San Mateo

Directed by George Ye

How did you first get involved with writing?

I’ve always been very drawn to creative innovation, and as a kid, I would make up songs and stories while I walked the dog or swept the porch. I cannot clearly remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling poetry and song lyrics on scraps of restaurant napkins – it’s always just been something I enjoyed. However, I didn’t start script writing until my sophomore year when it was a class assignment. Since then, I’ve grown to really adore and admire the form, and hope to do more in the future.

How did you come up with the idea for your script?

I’m really drawn to people and characters that don’t often have their stories told, and I wanted to capture that. I noticed the lack of time I spent regarding people who continuously contribute to my community, and one day while passing a toll on a bridge, I thought about what it’d be like to have your job be to insert yourself into the private (car) world of others. It grew from there.

What themes are involved in your piece?

My play deals with some very human and universal fears. The fear of betrayal, change, supposed supremacy, obsolescence. It’s a story rooted in human relationships; both between the characters and between the audience and the characters.

What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?

I hope that seeing my play will cause audience members to reexamine the relationships they hold with people they see every day but may have never thought of existing beyond consumer consumption purposes. I want people to begin to think twice about the complexity of people beyond their own need.

Do you plan to continue writing?

I believe so. I’m not sure in what medium- but the ability to create something out of thin air and form it into anything you want is pretty magical, I wouldn’t want to give that up.  When I spend time writing something I learn; both about the characters and about myself, and I think that’s a really unique experience, I’m a bit too selfish to stop.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m planning on studying Political Science and hope to go into government eventually. Although I could never give up my creative projects, which have always been a driving force in my life, so if in 40 years there’s a Congresswomen composing an a cappella musical- it’s probably me.

The Tangible Tollbooth can be seen during Program B of Plays by Young Writers, on Friday Jan. 29th at 7:30pm and Saturday Jan. 30th at 2pm. 

For more information and reservations, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or write@playwrightsproject.org. Visit http://www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw/. 

*Photo courtesy of Geri Goodale and Reminisce Photography.

Residency at Southwest Middle School

December 1, 2015

Check out these photos of Teaching Artist Veronica Burgess in action at a residency at Southwest Middle School!

Veronica at Southwest MS 2 2015

 

Veronica at Southwest MS 3 2015

 

Veronica at Southwest MS 2015

Thanks for your hard work and dedication to inspiring young minds, Veronica! We appreciate all that you do!

Interview with Lani Kording, winner of California Young Playwrights Contest 2015

November 30, 2015

Playwrights Project will produce its 31st annual festival of Plays by Young Writers, sponsored by the Sheila and Jeffrey Lipinsky Family Fund, at The Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe on January 23 – January 31, 2015. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 269 plays submitted by students from across the state. Four scripts will receive full professional productions, and two scripts will receive staged readings in this highly regarded festival of new voices.

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Quarter Cup

By Lani Kording

Age 17, Costa Mesa

Directed by Ruff Yeager

How did you first get involved with writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I was little. In first and second grade, I would write down jokes I thought were funny (in reality, they probably weren’t) and put them into little plays I “directed” my friends in. I wrote down little mini plays and short stories for a long time after that, though I didn’t think much of it. At that time, I thought I was going to be an actor. I was fully convinced that I would be singing and dancing on Broadway one day. My mom often took me to New York City to see shows, and I fell in love with theatre. I thought the only way I could be a part of it was to be on the stage. My elementary school self didn’t comprehend the idea of a creative team behind the cast. However, when I saw In the Heights in 2008, I was entranced by the words and was inspired to be a playwright. I’ve been writing plays ever since.

How did you come up with the idea for your script?

I usually have a plan set out for when I write a play, but I didn’t for this one. Honestly, I thought it was just gonna be a monologue from the perspective of a teacher. After reading a couple of plays that have a sort of fragmented style, I continued writing and ended up with Quarter Cup. 

What themes are involved in your piece?

There are many themes involved in my piece, including family, education, coping mechanisms, and moving forward. I think there might be some more in there. I also think it varies, depending on the person. Plays should be about many different themes and ideas, not just one singular thing. I think Annie Baker (one of my favorite playwrights) said something about that.

What is the message you hope the audience takes away with them?

I’ve struggled with this question. I really have. Personally, there isn’t one singular message I’d like my audience to leave with. Actually, there isn’t anything in particular I’d like them to leave with, as long as they leave with something. Something that meant something to them, something that made them laugh, or even something that they found odd, as long as they think about it at all.

Do you plan to continue writing?

Yes! I write a lot. There’s a musical called Hamilton, and in the song “Non-Stop” Aaron Burr says, “Why do you write like you need it to survive?” That line is pretty accurate to my life.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I would love to be a playwright and a screenwriter! I love both so much. I’m definitely going to pursue both. There’s nothing else I want to do.

Quarter Cup can be seen during Program A of Plays by Young Writers, on Saturday Jan. 30th at 7:30pm and Sunday Jan. 31st at 2pm. 

For more information and reservations, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or write@playwrightsproject.org. Visit http://www.playwrightsproject.org/productions/pbyw/. 

*Photo courtesy of Geri Goodale and Reminisce Photography.