The Waldo M. and Grace C. Bonderman Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI) Youth Theatre Playwriting Workshop has become a primary source for playwrights seeking opportunities and resources to develop new work. This biennial event brings together not only established and novice playwrights but also dramaturgs, directors, actors, producers and publishers-all dedicated to the creation of challenging new works for young people. In addition, the event provides an opportunity for those interested in youth theatre to participate in invigorating discussion about the future of theatre for children and young adults and to develop new plays through a series of panels and discussions hosted by some of the most accomplished individuals in the field. In 1984, Dr. Dorothy Webb, professor of theatre at IUPUI, founded the first IUPUI National Children's Theatre Playwriting Competition with the generous support of Melvin Simon & Associates, Incorporated, and colleagues at IUPUI and around the country. In 1986, the second play development workshop took place with the continued support of IUPUI, as well as the Indiana Arts Commission, the Indiana Committee for the Humanities, the Children's Theatre Foundation, the Indiana Theatre Association, and the Penrod Society. The workshop ended with an exciting symposium of panel discussions that set the course for future workshops. In 1993, Janet Allen, artistic director of the Indiana Repertory Theatre, became involved with the project, and in 1997 she joined IUPUI as a full partner in producing this event. The focus of the playwriting workshop is the development of new scripts, chosen on a competitive basis. Scripts intended for young audiences (third grade through high school) are solicited from across the United States and Canada. To be eligible, scripts should be unpublished and have a minimum performance length of 45 minutes. Plays that include music may be submitted, but no musicals. The selection process involves sending eligible scripts to a panel of distinguished preliminary judges, who are professionals in the field of youth theatre. Each play is read by at least two judges, who not only rank the play, but also provide thoughtful feedback to the playwright. When reactions to a particular script differ, it is submitted to a third judge for further review. The candidates are then narrowed to eleven scripts, which are submitted to a new panel of judges. The field is eventually narrowed to four plays. During the first few years of the competition, the winning script was awarded a fully staged production, while three semifinalists received rehearsed readings-directed by respected leaders in the field. This year, four plays out of 101 eligible scripts will be selected to receive a seven-day development workshop before each play is presented in a polished reading at the eighth Playwriting Workshop to be held at the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, 8-11 April 1999. In addition to this development work, cash awards of $1,000 will be presented to each of the four winning playwrights. Ten finalists will also receive awards and will have excerpts from their plays presented in a rehearsed reading during the symposium. An annotated list of plays receiving high evaluations will be published in the American Alliance for Theatre and Education newsletter and sent to both colleges and professional companies that have indicated interest in producing new scripts for young audiences. For the four winning playwrights, the process of script development will begin prior to their arrival in Indianapolis, with interaction with a director and dramaturg, chosen by Webb, whose skills support the needs of their particular works. Acting as sounding boards, these artistic teams will help the playwrights to clarify and advance their scripts based on the feedback supplied by the competition judges. Once in Indianapolis, these same artistic teams will cast the plays and work with professional actors and continue development of the script for an entire week. At the end of the week, the
scripts will be performed in staged readings for young audiences and symposium attendees, who will be invited to offer feedback. In 1997, five winners were selected, including Drop by Dano Madden, Reliable Junk by Ric Averill, Home Safe by Ellen Cooper, The Riddling Child by John Urquhart, and The Wonderful Machine by Colleen Neuman. In addition to the development of these new plays, the symposium provided workshops with some of the most respected leaders in this field, including Creative Work in Light of Educational Imperatives” with Janet Allen of the Indiana Repertory, James Larson, the artistic director of Omaha Theatre Company, and Moses Goldberg, artistic director of Stage One; and “Speaking the Unspoken: A Look at How Those in the Profession of Theatre for Young Audiences Can Engage in a Meaningful Discourse about Their Work,” led by Suzan Zeder, playwright and professor at University of Texas, Austin, Professor Lowell Swortzell of New York University, and Peter Brosius, the artistic director of Minneapolis Children's Theatre; and “A Town Meeting,” with Dana Singer, the author of The Stage Writers Handbook, playwright James Still, and Janet Allen. Judy Matetzschk, artistic director of Project Interact at the Zachary Scott Theatre in Austin, Texas and a regular participant as judge and dramaturg for IUPUI, said of Dorothy Webb and the playwrighting, It is important to our field because it keeps its focus squarely on the play and the writer throughout the event itself. It is wholly about the furthering of the script, with writer, dramaturg and director working as a team to take the play to the next level of development, whatever that might mean. Dorothy Webb really understands that every work is unique and that every writer has a different way of working and realizing their very unique voice. She structures the work of the teams with those unique needs and talents in mind. The event is a major success because Dorothy has so effectively modeled for us what it is to be a gracious host and talented facilitator/mid-wife to the playwrights process.”(The IUPUI/IRT National Youth Theatre Playwriting Development Workshop was held April 8-11, 1999, in Indianapolis, IN. For information on future workshops, contact Dr. Dorothy Webb, IUPUI Youth Theatre Playwriting Workshop, 425 Univ. Blvd. Suite 309, Indianapolis, IN 46202. Tel:317-274-0566 FAX: 371-278-1025) Waldo M. and Grace C. Bonderman IUPUI National Youth Theatre Playwriting Competition Winners (source: Award Winning Plays from the Playwrights Network of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education - no author, no date) 1983 Hallelujah Hopscotch by Rachel C. Burchard; 12 speaking roles, extras. With only 3 adult roles, Hallelujah Hopscotch is a play to be performed by children. Hallelujah Hopscotch, a nonconformist fairy, is abandoned in a backyard, where she must adjust to the ways of human children and depend on their imaginations for existence. The play combines dance, music, and the charm of children in major roles. Contact: Dramatic Publishing. Runner-up: Thirteen Bells of Boglewood by Max Bush; 1 act, 4m, 3f, 1 set. Casey Smith hires a young companion named Brian to help him find gold in a forest he has just purchased. In their search they confront the Hideous Spuggans, guardians of the hill treasure; Lara, queen of the faeries; and the enigmatic Bogle himself. In this play, contemporary reality merges with traditional fairy tale motifs. For Brian, the events are a rite of passage from a naive childhood to a much larger universe. Contact: Anchorage Press. 1987 Becca by Wendy Kesselman, musical arrangements by Michael Starobin; 1b, lg. 4 animals and 5 or more creatures of the Closet, 1 set. Becca is a powerful exploration of the inner journey of Jonathon and his little sister, Becca. Through music and dialogue, we see a mix of fantasy and reality in the world through the eyes of children-a world full of mystery, dreams, and love; but also a world where the need for control sometimes results in the loss of freedom, abuse of power
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