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Culture Circle Theatre High School Playwriting Project

Circle Theatre High School Playwriting Project

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Fort Worth is known for its theatre, and it would appear the future of playwriting is also strong in the city.

Circle Theatre is holding its annual High School Playwriting Project for area high schools. The four finalists are:

*”Closure” written by Emma Close and Sarah Lacy, Southlake Carroll. Teacher, Jamie Pringle.

*”Chaotic Company” written by Isabella Duran and Aidan Mondress, Southlake Carroll. Teacher, Jamie Pringle.

*”Playing Again” written by Wesley Junker, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. Teacher, Lindy Davis.

*”Under Better Circumstances” written by Garrett Zartman, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. Teacher, Lindy Davis.

A public reading of the four finalist plays will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 5 at Circle Theatre. Artistic Director Matthew Gray will direct the readings. A reception honoring the students and their teachers will immediately follow the readings and awards ceremony.

The mission of the project, now in its 23rd year, is to encourage local area students to explore the art of playwriting. Throughout the process, the hope is that the student playwright will harness their creative vision and see the potential in their own work.

“The High School Playwriting Project has a huge significance for everyone involved,” Gray said. “The students get a chance to express themselves artistically and see that expression interpreted by professionals and heard by an audience. It gives Circle Theatre a chance to personally connect with and shape future artists, playgoers, and supporters of the arts. Everyone who works on the project, from the volunteers who read and give feedback on the plays to the actors who read them, receive inspiration and insight into the future of our art form.”

Gray said the project clearly shows that there is plenty of talent at the high school level in the Fort Worth area.

“The young playwrights who participate in this project are clearly in good hands with their theatre and English teachers. They are endless sources of imagination and emotion,” he said. “The plays never cease to surprise and delight. But, perhaps the most telling and inspiring thing that it has shown us is in the number of participants. Playwriting can be an arduous and vulnerable exercise. It takes courage and self-¬exploration that not everyone would welcome. Yet, every year we are impressed by how many students offer themselves up by writing plays.”

The High School Playwriting Project began as a collaboration between Circle Theatre

co-founder the late Rose Pearson and Larry Boston, a former Eastern Hills High School theatre teacher. When Boston received a playwriting scholarship award, he approached Pearson with the idea of having readings of his students’ plays at Circle Theatre, presented by a professional director and cast of actors. These readings expanded

into what is now known as the High School Playwriting Project.

“From the spark of imagination and the first seed of a play’s development, Rose started the High School Playwriting Project because she knew the lasting impression each student would receive, just by submitting a finished play,” Circle Executive Director Tim Long said. “For 23 years, the High School Playwriting Project has given thousands of Fort Worth students a platform to embody their creativity. Both Rose and Bill championed the playwright and this project is their commitment to that outcome.”

Faye Austin, Circle Theatre Associate Producer, said the High School Playwriting Project gave them the inspiration for their inaugural Girl Scout Workshop.

“Our goal is that these young women can tap into their creativity early so that when they are old enough to enter the contest they have already been exposed to the art of

playwriting,” Austin said.

The four semifinalists in the project included:

*”Second Chances” written by Storm Baese and Kate Chadwick, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. Teacher, Lindy Davis.

*”Artificial Family” written by Mary Caruthers, All Saints Episcopal School.

Teacher, James Venhaus

*”The Black Card” written by Amya Scott, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts.

Teacher, Lindy Davis.

*”Hole in the Sidewalk” written by Jay Shortes, Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts.

Teacher, Lindy Davis.

In all, 108 scripts were submitted from 10 schools, including All Saints Episcopal, Carter-Riverside, Benbrook, Boswell; Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts; Fort Worth Country Day, Haltom, Richland, Southlake Carroll, and Western Hills.

The annual High School Playwriting Project public reading is free of charge and open to the general public, as well as families and friends of the playwrights. Finalist and semi-finalist students and their teachers will receive cash stipends, certificates, trophies, and complimentary theatre tickets as an acknowledgement of their participation

and accomplishment.

Additionally, Texas Wesleyan University is offering an academic scholarship to the finalist playwrights.

Each year, the project begins with invitations to area high school teachers and students to enter 10-minute scripts for evaluation by an experienced panel of judges. These judges read the anonymously submitted plays, write responses for each script, and choose 20 plays to send to Connie Whitt-Lambert, theatre professor at Texas Wesleyan. This year’s panel of judges included Devin Berg, Stefany Cambra, Chantel Carlson, Roger Drummond, Sarah Gay; Deiree Fultz, Steven McGaw, Nicole Neely, Steven Pounders,

Ernestine Rose, and Ashley White.

Connie Whitt-Lambert, along with Wesleyan playwrights Alison Baron, Sam Berg, William Bull, Adrian Carreno, Shanjala Davis-Allen, Abigail Garraty, Tobin Griffin, Kaitlin Hatton, Mariah Kuhn, Davonte Mitchell Dixon, Rebecca Nagle, Skylar Peters, Delaney Pricer, Ryan Simon, Jose Torres, and John Traxler then provide written analyses for each of the selected twenty plays. This provides the students with an opportunity to edit

their original submissions.

The High School Playwriting Project is open to all students and is not limited to theatre classes. Teachers or students wishing to participate in next year’s playwriting project may email matthewgray@circletheatre.com.

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