We received an overwhelming amount of submissions from all across the country. It was amazing to read so much fantastic, compelling new work by young playwrights. That said, it also made the decision process extremely difficult as there were so many great options. We are very happy to introduce the five playwrights we have selected for our inaugural festival. Each of these writers and their work perfectly embodies our mission of developing, and sharing, compelling, heartfelt bold work by young people. These plays will be presented by our studio students in a workshop production Friday, June 12th 8 p.m.
The Festival Playwrights
JACK BECKER (The Wonderland Clinic)
Jack Becker discovered playwriting as a seventh grader at Village Community School in New York City, when his English teacher, who was also a playwright, offered an after-school workshop. He was immediately hooked and has been writing plays ever since, including one that was a finalist in the 2012 NYC Young Playwrights competition. Jack lives in New York City and will be a junior at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, where he is active in the theater and choral programs.
MARY ELIZABETH COLUSSI (Confession)
Mary Elizabeth Colussi is a writer of dubious origin, though it is generally agreed upon that she was born in Australia and migrated to Gloucester, Massachusetts at a young age. Her early years were consumed with surviving Catholic school and writing poetry in secret; it has yet to be discovered why exactly she felt the need for such furtiveness. Upon her escape from middle school, Colussi became involved with the Rockport High School drama department. This involvement culminated with the production of her one-act play for the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Drama Festival. “The World Ends with Us”, a drama about six people grappling with life, death, and guilt in a support group environment, was the first play Colussi wrote, and seeing it brought to life through the talents of her friends and directors was an incredible experience. During its production, she wrote “Confession”, a short play about the sacrament of Confession, and evidence of the fact that Colussi’s experiences in Catholic school continue to influence her today, probably because she is only sixteen and is therefore less removed from middle school than she would prefer to admit. She is excited and honored to see “Confession” produced by the Young Actors Studio, and looks forward to working with them. Additionally, she would like to thank her family, friends, and the many mentors she has been lucky enough to have for their support.
DERICK EDGREN (Earth from the Moon)
Both an essayist and playwright, Derick’s plays have been performed in festivals across the country, recognized by theaters such as the West Side Show Room, La Strada Ensemble, and Blank Theater Company. Most recently, his short play Hydrangea Journal was produced in the Renaissance Guild’s ActOne Series XVIII in San Antonio. He was featured in publications such as Word Riot, Dramatics, and is forthcoming in an anthology by Samuel French for his play Skin, a take on the old Irish legend of the selkie. In addition to being a full-time undergraduate student, Derick is also a writer for College News and a blog contributor for Adroit Journal. He loves white boards, and primarily for that reason dreams of becoming an educator.
CATHERINE SILLARS (Toni and Gibson)
Catherine Sillars is a rising junior from New Orleans. She is a student at Benjamin Franklin High school and studies musical theatre at New Orleans Center For Creative Arts. Catherine has been seen in several regional productions around the New Orleans area including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with the NOLA Project and the New Orleans Tennessee Williams Festival, A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant also with the NOLA Project where she earned a local Broadway World nomination for best leading actress in a musical and The Crucible with the Jesuit Philelectic Society where she played Abigail Williams. Additionally, Catherine is an improviser and has worked with The New Movement and Funny Bones Improv. Toni and Gibson is Catherine’s first play and she is thrilled to have it premiere as a part of Young Actor’s Studio’s New Works Festival!