From left: Victoria Capraro, Jack Fletcher and Laurain Park.
By John Moore and Alexandra Griesmer
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has announced the three finalists for its inaugural Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition for Colorado high-school students.
The finalists are:
- Victoria Capraro, Denver School of the Arts: Sailor’s Knot: A Play in Six Movements
- Jack Fletcher, Denver East High School: Into the Stars
- Laurain Park, Alexander Dawson School: One-Sided Fish
The finalists each will receive a $250 cash scholarship, and their one-act plays will be given professional staged readings on Feb. 8 as part of the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. In addition, their sponsoring teachers each will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.
The winner of this year’s competition will be determined after the Summit readings, which will be held successively beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Conservatory Theatre in the Newman Building. (Entrance is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended by clicking this link.)
The winning play will be fully produced by the Denver Center Theatre Academy during the 2014 summer program.
"I’m so impressed that all three of the finalists are young writers experimenting with theatrical form," said award-winning playwright Steven Cole Hughes ("The Billy Trilogy"), who led the adjudicating team. "One-Sided Fish breaks the fourth wall; Into the Stars moves back and forth between reality and fantasy; and Sailor’s Knot features poetry and aerial dance.”
The statewide playwriting program was launched in September. In all, 75 one-act plays were submitted by students. Local playwrights and the Denver Center Education staff taught 83 playwriting workshops for more than 1,750 high-school students to help them along. In all, workshops were held in every school district in the Denver metro area and in 11 counties including Park County, El Paso and Gunnison County.
"When we launched the program, we had no idea if playwriting would be an artistic medium that was valued or respected by Colorado’s current high-school generation," said Denver Center director of education Tam Dalrymple Frye. "We are thrilled to report that the act of playwriting is alive and thriving in our Colorado high schools. The depth and breadth of these one-acts was staggering. We can’t wait for next year.”
Here’s more on (and from) each of the three finalists:
Victoria Capraro: “I am incredibly honored to have placed as a finalist. Writing this play has completely changed the way I see theatre, and has sparked a passion within me for the artistic process. I love that it gives me a voice as an artist in my community.”
Class: Junior, Denver School of the Arts
What is your play about? “Two people who fall in love. Their story is told by a Greek-style chorus who represent fate. It seeks to examine the nature of nature itself, and the process it takes for stars to align.”
Excerpt from Sailor’s Knot:
HIM: Fate. It’s what happens when the whole universe just knows.
HER: Knows what?
HIM: That it is meant to be.
HER: But surely…surely the stars are not without fault.
HIM: And surely humans are not without defiance.
(THE SIRENS step forward. HIM and HER exit. She puts the star, with the paper, in her pocket.)
THEY: And with the twinkle of the sun on the afternoon coast, in the stillness of the summer day, galaxies crashed above them, making way for the calamity. The calamity of fault. And the victory of defiance.
Judge Hughes’ comments: “I’m always interested in what makes theatre theatre, and this play has it: Poetry, a chorus, aerial dance and a nice love story. And I love the title (Sailor’s Knot: A Play in Six Movements).”
Jack Fletcher: “This means so much to me, as a writer and as someone who’s fallen in love with the theatre in the past few years. I’m honored to be among some of the best young playwrights in Colorado. The theatre has shown me new friendships, undoubtedly, but it’s also shown me new ways to think, and I’ve discovered so many new things within myself because of it. That’s why it’s so exciting to receive this honor.”
School: Senior, Denver East High School
What is your play about? A youth lies comatose in his hospital bed after a car accident six months prior. The play takes place both in the real world, where we see his family struggling, and in his mind, where he captains a starship.
Excerpt from Into the Stars:
DANIEL (to DOCTOR): I remember when he was a little boy, on the night his mother died. We were sitting there, on the couch, and we hadn’t been home for hours. It must have been 2 in the morning. We were eating McDonald’s there on the couch, because while we were away at the… well, Annabelle’s casserole burned in the oven. And he just sat in my lap and ate his fries, in his little tiger blanket. And he turned and he looked up at me, and he said that he couldn’t wait. And I said, “Can’t wait for what, son?” And he said, “Until I grow up.” So I said, “Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I knew the answer, but I asked anyway. And he said, “Daddy, I want to be an astronaut.” And I said, “Well, why’s that, Cory?” And he said … he said, “Because astronauts go into the stars. When I’m a grown up, I’m going to be an astronaut. So when I go into the stars, I can find mommy there.”
Judge Hughes’ comments: “This is a great idea for a play. It’s also the rare trick of being personal and moving, with a little bit of SciFi.”
Laurain Park: “This means more to me than I can describe. I thought I was a math and science student, and until I was told that I placed as one of the three finalists, I had forgotten about my childhood dream to be a writer. I never imagined that I can express my thoughts just as well as others, even if English is not my first language. This, to me, was not only the discovery of my hidden talent, but the discovery of everything.”
School: Freshman, Alexander Dawson School, Lafayette
What is your play about? Probably most people will have some kind of regret about their school days, and this story is about some of those regrets. Maybe an uneventful, plain story, feelings, thoughts, surroundings, and behaviors of a shy girl, telling us few interesting messages is what this play is about.
Excerpt from One-Sided Fish:
FELICITY: No one actually fully knows about themselves. Everyone has infinite potential. If you think you have a clue about what you want, or already chose a path to walk, question yourself. “Is this the real thing that I want?” Look up from your path. Look around. There’s so much in this world that you don’t even know about. Discover those things; express your thoughts; so there’s no stupid regrets that you’ll have. Isn’t it unfair if you regret something you could actually make better by saying a word? It’s just one life given to everyone. Isn’t it sad if your only life was driven by others? And there’s even songs and quotes you’ll know: Live like you’re dying.”
Judge Hughes’ comment: “I love this writer! Her voice is unique, it’s authentic and it’s heartbreakingly beautiful.”
To read our individual profiles on each finalist, or to learn more about their plays, click on their names below.
Read our profiles of all 10 semifinalists:
No. 1: Mateo Correa, Denver School of the Arts
No. 2: Kendall Horan, Cheyenne Mountain High School
No. 3: T.J. Norton, Discovery Canyon Campus High School
No. 4: Victoria Capraro, Denver School of the Arts
No. 5: Jack Fletcher, Denver East High School
No. 6: Gabriela Gonzales, Denver School of the Arts
No. 7: Nicholas Sugarman, Cherry Creek High School
No. 8: Meg Flinders, Heritage High School
No. 9: Tristan Cunningham, Sand Creek High School
No. 10: Laurain Park, Alexander Dawson School
For more information on the playwriting program at the Denver Center, please visit denvercenter.org/playwright, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.