Touchstone Young Playwrights’ Festival Celebrates Fifteenth Year
Magical night of theatre moves online with local and national theatre professionals and community members
BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre proudly presents the fifteenth year of its acclaimed Young Playwrights’ Festival. This showcase of new plays written by local elementary, middle, and high school students will take place online on May 9, 2020.
Young Playwrights’ Lab is an eight-week arts and literacy residency developed by Touchstone and the Bethlehem Area School District using theatre as a “Trojan Horse” to improve student attitudes toward writing and to provide a platform for creative self-expression. Through theatre improvisation, writing exercises, and collaborative critique, each student writes an original one-act play to be considered for performance in the annual Young Playwrights’ Festival. The plays that emerge are a rich indicator of the wide variety and depth of their imaginings, and while they often include light-hearted elements like talking animals, princesses, and cartoon characters, they explore universal themes of love, loyalty, importance of family, and bravery in the face of adversity.
Young Playwrights’ Festival typically performs at Zoellner Arts Center’s Baker Hall, but during the necessary stay-at-home orders, Touchstone has decided to bring the show to life online, with concert readings of the fantastical stories performed by Touchstone Ensemble Members, teaching artists, and community guests from across the country. Over 100 plays were submitted from this year’s programs, with nine exceptional scripts chosen for feature at the online Festival: Always Start from the Top by Sean Haas of James Buchanan Elementary; Trapped in YouTube by Emerson Espinal, Melissa Rojas, and Jael Garcia of Casa Guadalupe Center; The Radioactive Octopus by Jayden Velazquez of Donegan Elementary; Where’s My Icing? by Skylar Snyder of Farmersville Elementary; Jack and Jill and the Unknowns by Esdras Aquino-Gomez of Fountain Hill Elementary; The Dramatic Tale of the Singer that Can’t Sing by Ariana ‘Ana’ Stahley of Governor Wolf Elementary; Marching Band Prince That Saved the Aliens by Abrielle Brennan of Nitschmann Middle School; Pizza Man by Izzah Freer and Junior Collazo of Sheridan Elementary; and Adventures of Charlie & Nesty by Giana Vetter of Spring Garden Elementary.
“It’s especially heartening during this time to see that young people’s imaginations cannot be contained. When given the opportunity, they soar and we are the richer for it,” enthuses Mary Wright, Touchstone Young Playwrights’ Lab Coordinator and Ensemble Member. “It’s been a joy to read their plays and I can’t wait for the wider public to be delighted and inspired by these kids. I know I was.”
On a normal year, the Festival performance is only the first half of the evening, traditionally followed by Touchstone’s annual Gala, which raises money through ticket sales, live and silent auctions, and donations to support Touchstone’s award-winning arts in education programming. In lieu of the Gala this year, Touchstone is simply accepting donations for support toward next year’s programs. Patrons can donate directly at bit.ly/YPFonline
Touchstone’s season is sponsored by RCN. Media sponsorship is provided by WDIY, and print sponsorship is provided by Working Dog Press. The Young Playwrights’ Festival Naming Sponsor is Peron Development.
The Young Playwrights’ Lab program is gratefully supported through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program by: Avalon Insurance Company, Commonwealth Charitable Management, Embassy Bank, Fulton Bank, Merchants Bank, Peoples Security Bank and Trust, PPL, QNB, and UGI Utilities and by the following local corporations and foundations: Bethlehem Rotary Foundation, The Century Fund, and Charles H. Hoch Foundation. The program is also generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
The 15th Annual Young Playwrights’ Festival takes place on Saturday, May 9, 2020 at 7:00pm. Admission is free of charge, and donations are gratefully accepted at bit.ly/YPFonline. Links to the live premiere on YouTube will be posted day-of by 12:00pm, on Touchstone’s social media and at www.touchstone.org