Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Day 3 - Readings of the High School plays

Prop chicken for Enter Banquo's Ghost by Miranda Hoyt-Disick.
Our Props Manager made this from newspaper and tape in only 20 minutes!

On Tuesday, June 3, we presented the plays from the High School Division of the 2014 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival along with a special reading of a play from the Living with Disabilities category.

Rosemary Glennon and Seth Jambor in Hurricane Season by Alexa Derman
The day begin with an afternoon of tech rehearsals for the four High School Division plays in which a number of final script changes were implemented. Tech rehearsal is a chance for me to get "production" shots from the Festival, which had to be done with a smart phone. Apologies for some of the blurriness this may have caused!
Cara Ganski and Dan Pellicano in Ink Never Dulls by Talia Green
Dan Pellicano and Timothy Regan in Mechanical Advancement by Emily Donegan

The evening performance began with a special reading of Midnight by Hazel Solender. This play was chosen in our Living with Disabilities category through a grant from VSA, the international organization on arts and disabilities at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Hazel's script, along with others submitted to the NJ Young Playwrights Festival via the Living with Disabilities category, was sent to VSA for consideration in the annual Playwright Discovery Program.

High School Division plays followed with staged readings given by members of two separate casts. The plays were presented in the following order: Enter Banquo's Ghost by Miranda Hoyt-Disick, Hurricane Season by Alexa Derman, Ink Never Dulls by Talia Green, and Mechanical Advancement by Emily Donegan.

In addition to their selection in the NJ Young Playwrights Festival, the scripts by Talia Green, Emily Donegan, and Alexa Derman were also chosen by the Roxbury Arts Alliance/Roxbury Performing Arts Center for presentation in late July. My Life, My Family, Not My Wallet by Christopher Frick in the Junior HS Division was also selected for this program. In late July, these four plays will be remounted with a new cast and new revisions.

We are also happy to share that this week Alexa Derman is traveling to Los Angeles for the presentation of her play What We Talk About When We Talk About Planned Parenthood, which was a winner in the national young playwrights festival produced by The Blank Theatre.

A fantastic evening of plays from a remarkably talented group of young writers!

You can see additional pictures from the NJ Young Playwrights Festival on our Facebook page here.

High School playwrights and Cast
We again offer our congratulations to everyone who wrote and submitted a play to the Festival. We hope that you continue to share your creative imaginations with us and look forward to receiving a new script from you next year...

... that said ...

There will be some changes to the NJ Young Playwrights format for next year. We will announce some preliminary details within the next few days in order to inform schools of the change so that they can prepare for the fall semester. Further details will be released in the summer. So, please stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 2 - Readings of the Junior HS, Elementary, and Revolutionary plays

Monday evening we celebrated the playwrights whose work was chosen in the Junior HS division, Elementary division, and Revolutionary Plays category. With eight plays combined among those groups, there was a lot of material to cover and we worked right until the last minute to get things in place. Our intrepid cast (below) brought to life a variety of characters and themes from kids being rewarded for doing a good deed (My Life, My Family, Not My Wallet by Chris Frick) to seeking help to face down a bully (I Beat the Bully by Amanda Kefalas). There was a traditional-style fairy tale about a girl who wanted to write stories and share them with the children of her town (A Good Story, A Beautiful Person by Ashley Jiang) and an exploration office culture where the most important thing is to be true to yourself (Accounting for Change by Elizabeth Hendy). Time travel brought on by studying was a common theme (Zoe Verrazano's Big Adventure by Katie Dore and Molly Bloom and Her Weird Adventure in the American Revolution - the latter was our play from the Rev Plays category, of course). And two plays focused on young characters who pursue and live up to their dreams (So Let's Get Cooking by Lily Bauer and An Underdog Story by Morgan McCauley).

Junior HS, Elementary, & Revolutionary Plays playwrights

Quite an evening of plays! Quite a workout for our actors!

(Below from L to R: Cara Ganski, Daniel Pellicano, Gavin Johnson, Kelley McAndrews, Megan Greener, and Timothy Regan)


Earlier in the afternoon the casts met to continue work on the plays from the High School division. Unfortunately, a computer glitch kept me at the office longer than I had planned, so I wasn't able to get to the rehearsals in time to get any pictures. We had quite a lot to cover in the final rehearsal of the Junior HS, Elementary, and Revolutionary plays and since I was directing, there wasn't much opportunity to get some shots. There will be plenty of time and opportunity during tech tomorrow! Hope to see you there, too!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 1 - Rehearsals

 Today began the 2014 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival with a series of first read-thrus for each of the plays in the Elementary, Junior HS, and High School Divisions. For the Fesitval there will be two separate performances: one on Monday night for the Junior HS & Elementary plays; another on Tuesday night for the High School plays. Separate casts are assembled for each evening and today we began with the Junior HS & Elementary group.

We met with the cast at the University Center Little Theatre on the campus of Kean University beginning at 11:00 this morning and were joined by Amanda Kefalas, the author of the play I Beat the Bully. After reading Amanda's play, we proceeded through a few more scripts before breaking for lunch.

Director Artem Yatsunov in action.
After lunch, the cast regrouped and added additional actors and directors to read the plays from the High School division. These plays are further divided into two pairings, which are based in part on theme, but largely on the way in which the character breakdowns match up. Two separate casts of actors are assigned to each pairing, which also have their own director. After reading through the plays all together, the two casts split up to continue discussion of the play and, if time permitted, began blocking the script.

Miranda Hoyt-Disick enjoying a moment in rehearsal.
Miranda Hoyt-Disick, the author of Enter Banquo's Ghost, was with us this afternoon and provide insight into the play for Artem Yatsunov, the director and his cast of Megan Greener, Rosemary Glennon, Gavin Earl Johnson, and Seth Jambor. I sat in on some of the rehearsal for Enter Banquo's Ghost and caught a few moments of the action. The play is inspired by Shakespeare's Macbeth and follows engaged couple Beth (Megan Greener) and Joey (Seth Jambor) as they prepare for and host a dinner party for Beth's college friend, Allie (Rosemary Glennon). Beth is haunted by the memory of her former boyfriend Robert Banquo (Gavin Earl Johnson), who makes an appearance at the dinner party as a figment of Beth's imagination. The story is full of anxiety and action for Megan Greener in the role of Beth, which brought some great pictures like the one below:

Megan Greener
Megan Greener & Seth Jambor
You can find additional photos from tonight's sessions on the NJYPF Facebook page here. Additional pictures will be added to the album over the next two days. Enjoy!