March 28, 2016
Dozens of aspiring playwrights and composers submitted an astounding range of material for this year’s Thespian Playworks and Thespian Musicalworks programs—and the judges have completed the hard task of deciding which five to invite to the 2016 International Thespian Festival, June 20-25 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Four plays and one musical in the making will be workshopped and performed at Festival, the student authors working with professional playwrights, directors, and corps of actors and singers to put their scripts and songs on their feet.
Four plays have been selected for this year’s Thespian Playworks: Penelope, by Phanesia Pharel, Troupe 3637, South Dade Senior H.S., Homestead, Florida; Lord of the Flies, Jr., by Adam Mirajkar, Troupe 5742, Blake H.S., Apollo Beach, Florida; The Third Wall, by Kim Wong, Troupe 2661, Wichita (Kansas) Northwest H.S.; and Lost and Found, by Alyssa Faykus, Troupe 1315, Brenham (Texas) H.S. The next highest-scoring semifinalist play was ED, by Sage Holloway, Troupe 7929, Indian Trail H.S. and Academy, Kenosha, Wisconsin; thus, Sage would be the first alternate, should one of the four Playworks finalists be unable to attend Festival.
Six other Playworks submissions were named semifinalists: Extraordinary, by Melissa Myers, Troupe 1601, Aloha H.S., Beaverton, Oregon; Aeternus, or the Snowstorm, by Brady Baldwin, Troupe 7971, West Salem (Oregon) H.S.; An Gorta Mór (The Great Death), by Andrew Dugan, Troupe 830, Pennsbury H.S., who lives in Morrisville, Pennsylvania; In Return, by Clarissa Mullig, Troupe 5074, Grady H.S., Atlanta, Georgia; Postal, by Steven Harmon, Troupe 5869, Denver School of the Arts, Colorado; and Prince Ham, by Rachel Taylor, Troupe 4614, Sehome H.S., Bellingham, Washington.
Joining the Dramatics magazine editorial staff on the Playworks judging panel were Michael Daehn, a regional theatre director and faculty member of Ball State University in Indiana; and Los Angeles-based playwrights Nicholas C. Pappas and Stephen Gregg. More about this year’s winning Playworks plays, and the professional staff who will help bring them to life at Festival, will be announced soon.
This year’s Thespian Musicalworks finalist is Chrysalis, by Ryan Simon of Troupe 7372 (Cypress Ranch H.S., Cypress, Texas). Chrysalis follows the personal battles of Lewis, who is bequeathed the case studies from a gay conversion therapy center his late father ran. After Lewis himself came out, he and his father had a falling out, but after reading his father’s work, Lewis finally comes to terms not only with himself but also with that relationship.
The three Musicalworks runners-up were Tall Tales, by William Carleton of Troupe 4042 (MacArthur H.S., Irving, Texas); Blue Monday, by Scott Knier of Troupe 6386 (Vernon Hill H.S., Illinois); and Coda, by Isabel Olson and Reilly Blum of Troupe 5074 (Henry W. Grady H.S., Atlanta, Georgia).
Playworks, now in its twenty-third year, and its younger cousin Musicalworks, celebrate outstanding student voices from across the United States, Canada, and beyond. Both programs are sponsored annually by the Educational Theatre Association and run by the staff of Dramatics magazine, with support from Samuel French, Inc. (in the case of Playworks) and TRW (for Musicalworks).
If you’ll be at the 2016 International Thespian Festival, consider auditioning for Musicalworks (Monday afternoon and evening) and/or Playworks (Tuesday morning). Rehearsals are held during the workshop sessions at various times during the week, and are open to observers. A select “Dream Team” of experienced stage managers, designers and technicians is also needed to help bring the Playworks and Musicalworks scripts to life; we’re also looking for aspiring directors, musicians, public relations geniuses, and others to shadow and assist the professional staff. Interested students should apply to Julie York Coppens by June 1. And everyone is invited to experience the Musicalworks and Playworks performances at Festival. Check your program on arrival for details.
Next fall, look for details on Thespian Musicalworks and Thespian Playworks 2017, including submission guidelines and deadlines, in Dramatics and on our website.