A! Magazine for the Arts

Some of the winner's of Barter Theatre's Young Playwright's Festival.

Some of the winner's of Barter Theatre's Young Playwright's Festival.

Barter Theatre Young Playwrights Festival Winners Announced

November 10, 2012

ABINGDON, VA.- The 10th Anniversary of Barter Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival broke records in number of students participating and plays submitted. More than 400 students participated from nine area high schools with a total of 248 plays. On Monday, Nov. 5, the winning plays were announced at two performances: a morning performance for students and teachers and an evening performance for the community and parents.

Tere Land, coordinator of the festival, believes the primary reasons YPF has grown over the past 10 years are, first, the unique opportunity it gives high school students to have their work read and critiqued by theatre professionals.

"Each play submitted is returned to the student playwright with comments and suggestions. They love getting their play back and seeing what a Barter professional had to say about their work. And, perhaps most importantly, the teacher's dedication to their students' growth is key. We're very fortunate to have so many truly outstanding teachers in our area," said Land.

Katy Brown, the director of the Young Playwrights Festival, describes the school performance as being like a "literary pep rally." The students clap and cheer for their school and their classmates. David Strickland, a teacher from Tennessee High School in Bristol, Tenn., said it's the only time he sees a group of high school students solidly focused for 90 minutes.

For the first time in the history of the event, there was a tie for first place. "Paragon" written by Noah Stepanov (teacher: Crystal Hurd, Abingdon High School) and "Calla Lily" written by Keith Maultbay (teacher: April Kidd, Daniel Boone High School) both won first place. Second place went to "The Law's Misfortune" by Jeremy Bishop (teacher: Karin Orchard, Daniel Boone High School) and third place went to "She Runs from Beauty" by Mark Stupin (teacher: Todd Necessary, Marion Senior High School). The Prather Foundation sponsors cash prizes for the winners: $200 for third place, $300 for second place and $500 for first place."

The five honorable-mention plays were "Olympus Family Therapy" by Peyton Vance (David Strickland, Tennessee High School); "Felt Conception" by Dillon Barr and Kadie Bledsoe (teacher: Kelly Vance, Tennessee High School); "Bless Her Heart" by Dustin Howser (teacher: Kelly Vance, Tennessee High School); "Blood Brothers" by Ali Medlin, Ben Whitley and Adam Thompson (teacher: Rebecca Peery, Chilhowie High School) and "Where's the Turkey?" by Tyler Derek Calahan (teacher: Todd Necessary, Marion Senior High School).

The Barter Players, the acting company for young audiences, and Barter Resident Acting Company Member Justin Tyler Lewis acted and directed each of the honorable mentions and the first, second and third place plays. A reception in honor of the students and their teachers took place immediately following the awards presentation.

Every fall, the Young Playwrights Festival is open to high school students in Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee and Southeast West Virginia. To participate in the program, either individual students or groups of up to three students write and submit original 10-minute plays to Barter Theatre through their teachers. A panel of Barter professionals read each and every play and together decide the top eight. There is no cost for the teachers to participate.

A free workshop is given to the teachers so they can take the knowledge back to their classroom and inspire the students in a subject that may not be offered otherwise. "We broke it down to the nuts and bolts of action, conflict, dialogue, stakes and structure - a lot to pack into 10 pages. The teachers were fearless; we all wrote, we all learned something. It was great," said Catherine Bush, playwright-in-residence at Barter Theatre, YPF Teachers' Workshop Instructor and adjudicators.

"This was one of the most exhilarating YPFs I've been a part of. Not only were the plays by these young playwrights some of the best that have ever been submitted, but I truly believe lives were changed today," Bush added.

Crutchfield, First Bank and Trust, and The Prather Foundation sponsored this annual event, and additional support was provided by Abingdon Rotary, Virginia Retired Teachers Association, District 1 and Washington County Moose Lodge, #1966. Alpha Natural Resources is a supporter of Barter's Educational Outreach Program. This program includes not only the Young Playwrights Festival, but also The Barter Players' seasons in Abingdon and on tour, as well as The Barter Youth Academy, student matinee program and more.

For more information about Barter Theatre's educational programming, contact Katy Brown, associate artistic director of Barter Theatre at barterplayers@bartertheatre.com or 276-619-3327.