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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.

Aleta and Emilycropped&smaller

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 Visit 

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