NEW! Teen playwrights get pro performances

By - Mar 14th, 2011 04:06 pm
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Playwright Alyssa Cumpton.

While the political storms about school funding swirl around us, it is good to know the kids are alright – in fact, they’re playwrights. The Milwaukee Chamber Theatre will celebrate three of the best this week, at its fifth annual Young Playwrights Festival at the Broadway Theatre Center. The festival showcases winners of the MCT’s one-act play competition for area high school students.  MCT will stage all three winners — You’ll Never Understand, by Emlyn Dornemann of Montessori IB High School, A Rose for Mrs. Kemp, by Melody Hardman of Rufus King IB High School, and Misdirected Happiness, by Alyssa Cumpton of Homestead High School — each night of the festival.

Jacque Troy, the MCT Education Director/Literary Manager, says the festival provides a forum for high school students to express their opinions about what’s going on in the world.

“Although the impetus is high school age writers, the focus is on emerging artists,” Troy said. The plays are directed by professional Milwaukee theater artists, working with local actors. Student designers and technicians from area universities, mentored by their respective faculty members, provide artistic support.

You’ll Never Understand is an exploration of the triumphs and guarded struggles of five high school students. Laura Webb, who recently directed Write Me a Murder for the Waukesha Civic Theatre and interned for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, will direct.

Playwright Emlyn Dornemann.

“If people take one thing away from my play, I hope they realize that the problems my characters go through are actually there,” said writer Emlyn Dornemann. “Each of those characters’ issues was inspired by things I’ve gone through as a teenager or things my teenage friends have fought through.”

A Rose for Mrs. Kemp is a domestic drama set in the 1940s about a Mississippi family. The will of the mother in the family reveals some shocking truths. The director is Michelle Lopez-Rios, an assistant professor of voice and speech at UW-Milwaukee. Lopez-Rios has directing credits at UWM, the Prague Fringe Festival and Royal Mexican Players.

Writer Melody Hardman said she would like audiences to take away “the importance of family and togetherness” from her play.

Misdirected Happiness uses the dark humor and sinister mood of classic film noir in a murder mystery that examines both the suspects and investigators. Michael Cotey, artistic director and a co-founder of Youngblood Theatre Company, directs. In addition to numerous performing and directing credits, he served as associate producer on the independent film Tracks.

Playwright Melody Hardman.

“The main idea of my play is looking beyond what most people perceive as normal,” says writer Alyssa Cumpton, who is in now in her first year of college. “Society in general seems to take things at face value and no one ever goes further than that. The point of my play was to take a traditional idea and spin it on its head.”

Festival judges also acknowledged three honorable mentions: The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows, by Bryn Saunders (Menomonee Falls HS, now Carroll University); Second Chance, by Anders Ryan Goodwin (Rufus King HS); and The Way of Life, by Shaniqua Conley (Rufus King HS).

Performances of the Young Playwrights Festival are March 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. and March 20 at 2 p.m. at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre, 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors, at the BTC box office, 158 N. Broadway, 414 291-7800 and the MCT website.

Categories: Theater

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