A bullied, artistic teen. An underworld race inspired by Mayan mythology. A robot cat. A little girl named Loofa Tutu. These are the subjects of the finalists of a new play festival sponsored by Childsplay Theatre.
Judges of the company’s Write Now Festival considered more than 100 play submissions before settling on the four winners whose work will be produced later this month in Tempe.
While other festivals award cash prizes or the occasional staged reading to lucky winners, this one is offering weeklong workshops of each play, all in collaboration with top local and national creative theater artists. Among the guest artists is Seattle Children's Theatre artistic director Courtney Sale, who’ll direct one of the productions, and Phoenix’s own Matthew Wiener, who’ll act as dramaturge of another.
There’s an emphasis on social practice projects in theater, a new trend in regional theater. The four-day-long event includes a workshop led by Michael Rohd, known for his theater-based participatory projects with the Center for Performance and Civic Practice.
“We found there’s great interest in work that goes beyond just entertainment,” says Childsplay’s Jenny Millinger. “The conference offers an opportunity for participants to delve more deeply into social practice-based work and its place in theater arts.”
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Write Now will also offer a theater world reunion of sorts: The original creative team behind Childsplay’s groundbreaking play The Yellow Boat will reassemble at the conference. The play’s author, David Saar, original director Carol North, Yellow Boat historian Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, and dramaturge Susan Zeder will discuss the history of Saar’s acclaimed play, which will be presented in its entirety.
Rehearsed readings of the four winners will also be unveiled at the festival, which will be held March 16 through 19 in Tempe.
Write Now takes place March 16 through 19 at Childsplay, 900 South Mitchell Drive in Tempe, and at Tempe Center for the Arts. For more information and a complete schedule, visit the Write Now website.