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Prescott Parent Magazine
PO Box 10742
Prescott, AZ 86304
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You heard right!
Prescott Center for the Arts (PCA) placed the Young
Playwrights Festival (YPF) into its summer youth
programming schedule, and expanded the festivities to
a two-week workshop/rehearsal period leading up to
the public performances. It’s a big change, and we are
very excited about it!
Beginning this year, YPF goes from a one-day, two performance event to a two-week day camp! From June 12 to June 24, between 1:
00 and 5:00 p.m., we will be putting the “fun” into “fundamentals.” During those two weeks, we will work with playwrights and actors
on the craft of each discipline as we rehearse the plays chosen for the festival. Festival performances are on June 23 and June 24.
There are hundreds of youth playwright festivals around the country, and myriad ways to produce them. Each year since the inception
of YPF, we at PCA have tweaked and tucked, fiddled and fine-tuned. We produced it off-site at Franklin Phonetic School for the first
two years, and since then have juggled the festival timing to fit somewhere between two of our main stage productions. It was fun, and
exciting, and exhausting, and a shining example of what we in the business call “commando” theater: Charge in carrying all of your
props, costumes and set pieces, perform, hand out prizes, celebrate, charge out carrying all of your props, costumes and set pieces. So
this year, for a number of reasons, we’ve decided to take it a little slower.
The word “wright” means builder, or craftsperson. A playwright is a builder of plays. So for this 7th annual festival, we have committed
to helping our writers “wright.”
Expanding the festival and holding it in the summer will facilitate focused and consistent rehearsal times for the actors while also
allowing the produced playwrights to hone their plays.
The two-week summer program also offers this year’s playwrights who submitted, but are not being produced, the opportunity to
review and discuss their play with a professional playwright. It is a chance to learn the craft in a focused and meaningful way, in
particular, to understand the construction of the ten-minute play format, and to get positive and constructive feedback on the play that
Like many other young playwright festivals, PCA’s aim is to encourage and uplift the voices of our youth, and to present the world
perspective of our future generations. PCA’s first YPF received about 20 submissions. This year, we received about 60. As the number
of submissions grows, so too must our support of these young voices.
It is important that we provide encouragement for them to continue writing, speaking, creating and
learning while they navigate through childhood and into adulthood. Arts education is a key component in
developing confidence and independent, critical thinking. It develops skills like leadership, creative problem
solving and taking responsibility. These skills are useful no matter what career path they choose. But don’t
tell the kids. They’ll just think they’re having fun!
Hundreds of Awesome Submissions
Truly, each year we are blown away by the number of awesome plays we receive. We know what it takes to
sit down and write something, and we know what it takes to then submit it to be juried. It may sound
cliché, but we really are very proud and honored to receive each submission, and we wish we could produce
every one of them.
Over the years we have been delighted with the range of themes, and the imaginative ways in which the young playwrights have
constructed their plays. We’ve had bullying-themed plays where bullies were conquered by monsters, or magicians, or meek folk who
find their strength. We’ve had love-themed plays, cave-man plays, pirate plays and plays that put a twist on a classical novel. We’ve had
plays that are entirely written as a play on words. Plays with talking animals. Scary plays. Psychological thrillers. Kidnappings. A
murderous cat. And, of course, we’ve had a musical.
The Selection Process
Every year we have to whittle the entries down to 10 or fewer finalists. This is never ever easy, and every year we have to put aside the
majority of wonderful plays that were submitted.
This selection process involves a team of readers that are experienced educators, playwrights and directors.
So many factors go in to selecting the finalists. Sometimes we have to put aside plays that have made it to the final round of selection,
but are similar in theme to another play that also made it to the final round of selection. Sometimes we have to set aside a play because
the playwright has put their name on the title sheet. Sometimes we have to set aside a play because we know it will run for 20 minutes,
which is twice the allowed running time.
Out of all of these awesome submissions, we are able to produce only a handful. That is the nature of playwriting festivals. All of this
to say that a submission can be really, really well written, and still not be one of those finalist plays.
The best advice we can give is to strictly adhere to the submission requirements. Honestly, it is heartbreaking to pass a script over
because it’s way too long, or the playwright’s name is on the script.
Looking Forward to 2018
No, really! It’s never too early to start writing that play!
Next year’s Young Playwrights Festival submission opportunity will be upon us before we know it! Youth in grades K-12 are invited to
submit plays on any theme, maximum 10 pages (think one minute per page) in standard play format. What’s standard play format? Go
to www.pca-az.net, and under Youth & Education, click Young Playwrights Festival. You’ll find a standard play format there, along with
the submission requirements, and the opening and closing dates of the 2018 submission window.
YPF Summer 2017 Auditions, Camp Dates and Performances
June 12 at 3:00 PM
June 12 to June 23 (Monday through Friday): 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – Playwright Workshop, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM – Rehearsals.
(Performances Friday June 23 and Saturday June 24)
Attend a performance!
June 23, 7:00 PM and June 24 1:00 PM
Tickets are $10 cash at the door.
Find this article and more in the June/July issue of Prescott Parent Magazine!