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Justin Lang, CA Young Playwrights Contest Script Evaluator and Actor

October 3, 2011

Justin Lang has been  involved in the arts in San Diego for over 10 years. He works with Playwrights Project on numerous levels ~ working backstage at our Plays by Young Writers festival, performing scripts written in our playwriting programs, and writing evaluation letters for our California Young Playwrights Contest.

Justin is currently  the Education Coordinator with the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad, and can be seen in their Season 11: The Ensemble Project.

Below, Justin shares his insights about writing evaluation letters for our Contest entrants.

 

 

What do you look for when reading the Contest  scripts?

One of the first things I look for is creativity and originality.  As an artist, I am always trying to dig deeper  and make more expansive discoveries.  When a play is creative, I find myself  getting lost in the world where the play is taking me – for a brief moment I am transported to another world…

 

How do you think your feedback benefits the  young playwrights?

As a professional artist, I have a wonderful opportunity to  represent the theatre arts community and lend my experiences and perspective to aspiring artists.  I am  encouraged that so many young people are interested in the arts. This will  surely better the expansion of the arts in San Diego.

 

What do you value about Playwrights Project’s California Young Playwrights Contest?

Playwrights Project gives young artists opportunities to use their  voice in ways those young artists never thought possible. Some writers reflect on the condition of the times; others are more focused on the human conditions of their particular age.  The true value of Playwrights Project is that it fosters a way for young people to come together and understand one another.

 

Please describe a particularly memorable contest script from the past and why it intrigued you.

I once read a script about a fish who was swimming in the ocean and it was very cold.  The fish met a  whale and explained his problem with the water temperature.  The whale kindly offered to have surgery to remove blubber and give it to the fish who was very cold.  The fish and whale located a penguin doctor for the operation.  The penguin successfully removed some blubber from the whale and gave it to the fish.  The whale and fish then became best friends for life.

This grabbed me because this is an instance where you learn everything about life in kindergarten. And here it is in a script, reminding me as an adult that simplicity is best. Look out for one another and we will make it–Brilliant!

 

In your opinion, what makes a script better  suited for the stage vs. screen?

Fewer scenes make great plays!  If a play has a lot of scenes, chances are the writer was thinking of the story as a movie.  A great play is about what happens with the story, characters, and audience interacting with the energy that is transmitted from one to the other.  Fewer scenes allow for more in-depth character study and force the writer to become more creative with their storytelling.

 

What advice do you have for young playwrights?

  • William Shakespeare is the representative for the English language. How amazing is that?!  A playwright is the representative for the human condition.
  • Write everything, nothing is wrong.
  • This is art, life imitates art…write your thoughts and observations and watch how you change the world!  Miles Davis once stated, “The only reason to write a new song is because you’re tired of the old ones.”

 

Winners of the 2011 California Young Playwrights Contest will be publicly announced at our Lights Up! event on November 5 at the Neurosciences Institute. More details to come!

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