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Interview with Wendy Maples, director of The Dumping Ground in Plays by Young Writers 2017

January 16, 2017

Playwrights Project will produce its 32nd 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 19 – January 29, 2017. The festival will feature winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest for ages 18 and under.

Contest winners were selected from 365 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.


Wendy Maples, Director of The Dumping Ground for Program B of Plays by Young Writers 

Wendy Maples is the Founder/Artistic Director of Step UP Theatre and a 2009 participant at the Directors Lab West in Pasadena, California.  Additionally, she has directed for InnerMission Productions and the Theatre Arts School of San Diego.  Wendy is a founding teacher at High Tech Middle School Chula Vista.


Do you work in theatre outside of this festival and if so, how does your work in Plays by Young Writers differ from your other work?

I work in theatre, specifically youth theatre, ALL day every day.  I worked with high school students in Step UP Theatre for almost 10 years creating original plays for young audiences.  I teach seminar classes to young conservatory students who are looking to push themselves as actors.  And I teach theatre in a middle school classroom, teaching industry standard practices to 11 year olds, which is challenging and exciting and a different beast every day.  Working in Plays by Young Writers is so fantastic because in a way, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.  Showing 11 year olds that their words are important and can be put on such a professional platform is really eye opening for them.  And a beautiful reminder to me each day of how important this work is.


What are some of the highlights of working with young writers?

When young people tell stories on a page, they’re honest.  Even if they’re writing a fictitious story, in my experience, their words come from a place of honest understanding- I can almost sense a young writer saying “I know how this feels and here’s a situation where I can change it or heal it or make it better for this character than it was for me.”


What caught your attention most when you first read the script?

When I read this script, I felt very strongly that I knew these people.  I was these people.  We’ve all worn these hats at some stage in our lives- the friend whole tells it to you straight, the supportive teacher, the voice of wisdom, the person who’s dared to be vulnerable.  And that will be what makes our audience relate and really care about these characters.


Can you share with us any details about your vision for the play?

To me, The Dumping Ground is about recovering from rejection and all of the feelings that are tied up in that.  Every character in this play needs a moment to sit and recover and find acceptance.  Without giving too much away, those are the terrifically human themes in the beautiful script that Matthew has written.

The play takes place in Washington, D.C., a city that I love and spend lots of summers and conferences exploring!  Our story has a variety of locations around the city from Metro Stations, to classrooms, to front porches, so like the multicolored metro lines, we move our play all over the stage!  So the imagery, sights, sounds, smells, of D.C. have been in my head throughout this whole process.

The Dumping Ground can be seen during Program B of Plays by Young Writers, on Friday Jan. 27th at 7:30 PM and Saturday Jan. 28th at 2:00 PM. You may purchase tickets for Fri. Jan. 27 at 7:30 PM here, and for Sat. Jan. 28th at 2 PM here. 

For more information, please contact Playwrights Project at (858) 384-2970 or Visit 

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