Top row, from left: George Zilkha, Will Koch, Rudy Senecal, and Matthias CampbellBottom row, from left: Katharine Ruegger, Rebecca Mitzner, Christiana Stawasz, Cierra Cassano, Evan Caldwell, Victoria Nation, and Lulwama Mulalu
DORSET — Dorset Theatre Festival provides opportunities for regional middle and high school students to learn about playwrighting and create a play of their own through its annual Jean E. Miller Young Playwrights Competition. A public reading of this year’s winning works was held on Friday, September 29.
The Jean E. Miller Young Playwrights Competition is an annual collaboration between Dorset Theatre Festival and local schools. Each spring, a visiting playwright and Bennington College mentors teach a series of playwrighting workshops at participating schools, after which students are invited to submit a short play for adjudication by a panel of nationally recognized playwrights. Winners are chosen in autumn, and their works are then given a public reading onstage at the Festival.
Eight Vermont schools participated in this year’s workshops, from which 75 plays were submitted to panel of 10 judges.
This year’s high school winners are Will Koch from Stratton Mountain School (faculty mentor: Mary Mangiacotti), Gracie Smith from Arlington Memorial School (faculty mentor: Gayna Cross), Rudy Senecal from Burr and Burton Academy (faculty mentor: James Raposa). This year’s middle school winner is George Zilkha from Maple Street School (faculty mentor: Conor Welch).
Nick Gandiello, a playwright, screenwriter, and teaching artist whose plays include The Blameless (The Old Globe), Oceanside (Merrimack Repertory Theatre), The Wedge Horse (Fault Line Theatre), Sunrise Highway (Ojai Playwrights Conference), and Swept (Williamstown Theatre Festival) was this year’s visiting playwright.
“Every class I visited was bursting with imagination, enthusiasm, and curiosity. My favorite moment in each of these classes is when a student realized that these worlds and stories were theirs; the choices for what should happen and how were entirely up to them. Engaging students with the arts encourages them to find their own voices, and to explore the world around them and empathize with others in new ways,” said Gandiello.
For more information on the Jean E. Miller Young Playwrights Competition, visit dorsettheatrefestival.org.