Orlando Repertory Theatre (Orlando REP) is pleased to announce that two Youth Academy students have been selected as top finalists in the nationwide playwriting contest #ENOUGH: PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE. The winning 10-minute plays will be announced by a national committee before the end of August. Orlando REP will produce staged readings of the two students’ plays, as well as the final winners’ plays this fall.
#ENOUGH: PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE is a new campaign of theatre activism, founded in 2019, with a mission to provide middle and high school students with the platform to spark critical conversations about gun violence across the country. The project enables teens to express themselves through storytelling, foster open dialogue in their communities, take on leadership roles, and inspire creative action. Project founder and producer Michael Cotey has put together a panel of professional playwrights to serve as judges for the contest including Lauren Gunderson, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Robert Schenkkan, David Henry Hwang, and Karen Zacarías.
Jennifer Adams, Senior Director of Education at Orlando REP, states “We are so proud of these writers and the messages they share within their plays about gun violence. They are beautifully honest and creative, reflecting not only themselves, but views I am sure are shared by many young people and adults.”
The winning playwrights receive $500, written feedback by a member of the Finalist Selection Committee, have their play read all across the country for the #ENOUGH Nationwide Reading on December 14, 2020, and have their play published in an anthology of #ENOUGH plays.
“The opportunity to have nationally recognized playwrights read and respond to your work is a valuable learning opportunity that will hopefully help these writers grow as they continue to create new works,” says Adams.
ABOUT THE YOUTH ACADEMY PLAYWRIGHTS
Eislinn Gracen, Age 16: GUNS IN DRAGONLAND
Thinking back over her love for storytelling, Eislinn comments, “Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved telling stories. I’ve been playwriting for a bit more than a year now and I’m so thankful for this medium of storytelling.”
When asked about her motivation for the story behind her play, her response is both somber and jarring: “The idea of GUNS IN DRAGONLAND came from a conversation I had with my eight-year-old brother about how he didn’t understand school lockdowns. He was so nonchalant about the whole thing; it was really disturbing. The only information he did know about the subject was that he had to hide from the bad man.”
Adelaide Fisher, Age 16: MS. MARTIN’S MALAISE
Adelaide credits another playwriting competition, as well as Orlando REP, with her interest in playwriting and comments, “I’ve been interested in playwriting for a little over three years now. I actually got interested in playwriting when I did the Young Playwrights for Change competition at my middle school, also with Orlando REP, when I was in 7th grade!”
Passionate about the topic of gun violence, Adelaide points out that she has “luckily never been the direct victim of a school shooting or any other gun violence, but as I’m sure we all know, a high school in this area had a shooting only a few years ago. I have a friend who lost a friend in that tragedy, and I think that’s partially true for everyone. Even if you haven’t been directly impacted by gun violence, you’re probably close to someone who has.” She closes with the powerful sentiment that “Everyone has a story about gun violence, even if it isn’t a first-hand account, and that needs to change.”
For more information on the #ENOUGH: PLAYS TO END GUN VIOLENCE contest and initiative, visit www.enoughplays.com/ .
More in-depth conversation with playwrights Adelaide Fisher and Eislinn Gracen can be found on the Orlando REP blog at www.orlandorep.com/blog/