Founded in 1987 by Adele Magner, and led today by Executive Producing Director Glen Knapp, Philadelphia Young Playwrights is an award-winning program that taps the potential of youth and inspires learning through playwriting in more than 50 public and private K-12 schools each year. A leader in the region’s educational programs for youth for 25 years and built upon its primary belief that all students have something important and valuable to say, Young Playwrights has enriched the Greater Philadelphia community, touching the lives of thousands of students, teachers and parents for the past twenty years. Since 1987, approximately 60 professional playwrights have led workshops, and nearly all of Philadelphia’s professional theater companies have participated by performing, producing, or directing student works. More than 60,000 young people have participated directly as playwrights and audience members, seeing their work produced in class or by professionals. Young Playwrights’ Literary Committee includes more than 60 educators, writers, parents, and former Young Playwrights students who read and critique each student script.
Student Voices Take Center Stage in Professional Productions presented by Philadelphia Young Playwrights
in association with The Wilma Theater and 1812 Productions
Featuring We Write South Philly High written and performed by the Students of South Philadelphia High School; Thoughts Can Fly by Haley Gordon; and On the Way by Lyn Huong Nguyen
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Student Matinee at 10 a.m. with South Philly High students
Wednesday, Nov. 30 – Student Matinee at 11 a.m.
Thursday, Dec. 1 – Student Matinee at 11 a.m.
Thursday, Dec. 1* – Ticketed Performance at 7:30 p.m. *Accessible performance (open to public)
Friday, Dec. 2 – Student Matinee at 11 a.m.
Friday, Dec. 2 – Ticketed Performance at 8 p.m. (open to public)
WHERE: The Wilma Theater
265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
WHO: Student playwrights, teachers and representatives from Philadelphia Young Playwrights, The Wilma Theater and 1812 Productions will be available for interviews. Student talkbacks will follow all student matinees.
WHAT: The work of Philadelphia area student playwrights will be brought to life on stage during the 2011 Professional Productions presented by Philadelphia Young Playwrights in association with The Wilma Theater and 1812 Productions from Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, 2011.
The Professional Productions will feature the powerful play We Write South Philly High, written and performed by Students of South Philadelphia High School. The multi-disciplinary production features real-life accounts of students, staff, and alumni, collected through interviews conducted by the students themselves. The program will also feature the monologue Thoughts Can Fly by Haley Gordon of Cheltenham High Schooland the play On The Way by Lyn Huong Nguyen, a recent graduate of Upper Darby High School– winners of the 2010 Young Voices High School Monologue Festival and Young Playwrights’ Annual Playwriting Festival, respectively.
The student artists have embraced the extraordinary opportunity to work closely with award-winning professional directors, dramaturges, actors and stage crew. The fully staged professional productions of these winning student plays will be featured on the main stage of The Wilma Theater, located at 265 South Broad Street on the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia. The collaborators acknowledge the extraordinary partnership with The Wilma Theater, who opened the theater as a learning lab to students throughout the project.
ADMISSION: Performances are open to the general public with ticket prices ranging from $12- $15, with free admission for school groups. Reservations are required. For reservations to student matinees, call (215) 665-9226, and visitwww.phillyyoungplaywrights.org for information. For tickets, visit The Wilma Theater box office in-person, call (215) 546-7824, or purchase tickets online at www.wilmatheater.org.
The Professional Productions will feature an accessible performance on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in partnership with Independence Starts Here!led by Art-Reach and VSA Pennsylvania. The performance will be sign-interpreted, open captioned and audio described, with both large-print and Braille programs available.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTIONS:
WE WRITE SOUTH PHILLY HIGH
“We write a school that accepts everyone, no matter where they come from.”(From We Write South Philly High)
Over the past year, students from South Philadelphia High School have been working with Teaching Artists from Philadelphia Young Playwrights, The Wilma Theater, and 1812 Productions to create, produce, and perform an original piece of theater reflecting the many voices of the high school’s students.Directed by Monica Stephenson, Education Director of 1812 Productions, We Write South Philly Highis the product of three semester-long residencies in which more than 50 students studied acting and playwriting while examining the various layers of identity that make up South Philadelphia High School’s past and present. The multi-disciplinary production features real-life accounts of students, staff, and alumni, collected through interviews conducted by the students themselves.
We Write South Philly High first premiered in June 2011. The project, alongside South Philadelphia High School Principal Otis Hackney, was recently acknowledged with the 2011 Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theatre Education and Community Service. Hackney and students from South Philadelphia High School opened the awards show with an excerpt from the play. The play has been revised and reworked for the Professional Productions premiere, as students continued to engage with the unique playwriting process and the experience of writing a group-authored piece.
We Write South Philly High continues to offer the students of South Philadelphia High School the opportunity to redefine the school’s identity, despite its recent challenges. In December of 2009, the high school was thrown into the national media spotlight after several Asian American students were attacked by a group of predominantly African American students. The playwriting residency was developed as a direct response to those incidents, and comes out of a desire to help the school heal and move forward.
Educators with Philadelphia Young Playwrights and The Wilma Theater were able to join and build on 1812 Productions’ 14-year relationship with South Philadelphia High School to collaboratively create this powerful theatrical program with the students and teachers of the school.
We Write South Philly High ensemble includes: Kyhir Davis, Jin-Mei Chen, Shawnae Cooper, Jamylah Cummings, Edith Diego, Esteban Galan, Munirah Gardner, Jiahua Mai, Antwyne Purnell, Donte Scott, Maya Terry, Nel-Lun Vung, Ashonta Watson, Quasir Wingate, Lamar Winstead, Ashley Wright, Dafen Xiong, Nicole Sylapheth, Patricia Sylapheth, Larry Jackson, Keara Hampton, Michael Prom, Sanan May, Tyler Amato, Thien To, and Melissa Phock.
THOUGHTS CAN FLY and ON THE WAY
The Professional Productions will also feature an award-winning monologue and play, both directed by David O’Connor.
Thoughts Can Fly by Haley Gordon was a 2011 Young Voices Monologue Festival winner. In Haley’s piece, a teen muses on the difference between human beings and all other species. While his thoughts wander, he wonders what it is about human beings that make us strive to be the best in everything. Why do humans constantly ask questions and never stop desiring to be “king of the jungle?” Thoughts Can Fly will be performed by professional actor Brian Cowden.
Haley, now a 10th grade student at Cheltenham High School in Montgomery County, is a long-time Young Playwrights participant. She first became involved with the organization while in third grade when her class’s group play was selected as a winner. Haley is now a member of Young Playwrights’ Youth Council, which serves as an advisory body to the Board of Directors. “With all the plays, you’ll be able to sense moments of seeing our generation, seeing our plays as an open door to our world,” says Haley.
On the Way by Lyn Huong Nguyen examines the lives of a Vietnamese family living through the Vietnam War, the unraveling of a father, and a tragic love story.Lyn, a freshman at Lafayette College, wrote the play while a student at Upper Darby High School in Delaware County. In On the Way, Thuy has anxiously waited for the day that her father would return from fighting, staying comforted with his precious letters, pictures and memories. When her father unexpectedly returns, due to an injury, he has lost the memories that Thuy held so dear. Lyn’s play courageously discusses that moment in our lives that changes everything.
On the Way is a 2010 Annual Playwriting Festival winner. The play was first performed in November 2010 at Young Playwrights’ New Voices: Workshop Productions at Temple University. “I saw my play come to life from beginning to end, and it was the most amazing rush ever!” says Lyn.
On the Way features a cast of five actors: Tara Higgins (Mai), Makoto Hirano (Ba), Sarah Kay (Thuy), Matt Mendoza (Minh) and Bi Jean Ngo (Ma).
About Philadelphia Young Playwrights
Founded in 1987 by Adele Magner, and led today by Executive Producing Director Glen Knapp, Philadelphia Young Playwrights is an award-winning program that taps the potential of youth and inspires learning through playwriting in more than 50 public and private K-12 schools each year. A leader in the region’s educational programs for youth and built upon its primary belief that all students have something important and valuable to say, Young Playwrights has enriched the Greater Philadelphia community, touching the lives of thousands of students, teachers and parents for the past twenty years. Since 1987, approximately 60 professional playwrights have led workshops, and nearly all of Philadelphia’s professional theater companies have participated by performing, producing, or directing student works. Nearly 60,000 students have seen peers’ work produced in class or by professionals. Young Playwrights’ Literary Committee includes more than 60 educators, writers, parents, and former Young Playwrights students who read and critique each student script. For more information about PYP, visit www.phillyyoungplaywrights.org.
About The Wilma Theater
The Wilma Theater creates living, adventurous art. We engage artists and audiences in imaginative reflection on the complexities of contemporary life. We present bold, original, well-crafted productions that represent a range of voices, viewpoints, and styles. Visit www.wilmatheater.org to learn more.
About 1812 Productions
1812 Productions was founded in 1997 and is the only professional theater company in the country dedicated to comedy. Their education program, 1812 Outreach, has received multiple nominations and been awarded the Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theatre Education and Community Service. On April 20, 2005, 1812 Productions received an honorary citation from the City of Philadelphia for outstanding work and commitment to the Philadelphia arts community. Nationally and internationally recognized for their original comedy productions, in 2010, 1812 Productions was honored as one of only 10 theaters in the country to receive a National Theatre Company grant from the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. Lucie Arnaz, Vice-Chairman of the Boards of Trustees of The American Theatre Wing called 1812 Productions, “One of the most inspiring and innovative theatre companies on our national landscape.” While continually on the search for a permanent home, 1812 Productions continues to perform at various locations in Philadelphia. Visit www.1812productions.org to learn more.
Production support provided by: The National Endowment for the Arts and The William Penn Foundation. Media Sponsor: Philadelphia City Paper. Student ticket sponsor: The Fund for Children at the Philadelphia Foundation.
Honorary Producers: Linda and David Glickstein; June and Steve Wolfson
# # #
Canary Promotion, (215) 690-4065
Emaleigh Doley, emaleigh [at] canarypromo [dot] com
Megan Wendell, megan [at] canarypromo [dot] com