A few weeks ago, I got the chance to experience some truly amazing works of art at New Voices: Workshop Productions, a production of the winners of the 2010 Annual Playwriting Festival on Saturday, November 6, 2010. My day began with a luncheon held for winning playwrights and their families, volunteers and staff members of Philadelphia Young Playwrights. During this delicious lunch of assorted sandwiches, chips and sodas, my partner, Alaya and I were introduced to Joseph Conners, President of Philadelphia Young Playwrights Board of Directors. This man was a delight to meet and an even greater interviewee as he talked with me about the wonders of working with Philadelphia Young Playwrights to help put on productions like the one we were seeing shortly. One thing that Mr.Conners did say that really intrigued me was that every time he comes to one of these productions, he leaves changed with more of an open mind. I later realized and experienced the feeling he was talking about after the show.
After meeting Mr. Conners, I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the winning writers: Lauren Pierre of Abuse, Jacob Fagliano of Purpose, Gina Dukes of God Makes No Mistakes, Haley Gordon of Axioms of Teenagers, and Lyn Nguyen of On the Way. It was obvious to see that these teenagers were more than excited and honored to be praised for their exceptional writing. As a fun little game for me and Alaya, we decided not to ask too many questions about the details of each writer’s play so that we could try and figure out the plot on our own while watching. It was a surprise addition to the game when we found out that the name and writer of the plays would not be announced until after the play was done and my partner and I were without a program. Throughout each play, we tried to figure out the name of the play, the plot and the writer. I personally found this very interesting because as I watched these productions and decided who the writer of each piece was to myself, I later found out that my assumption of the writer was wrong! This really opened my eyes to how diverse these playwrights are in their plays and how the playwrights feel about different topics personally. In regards to the plot of the productions themselves, I felt enlightened by the story each piece told. I had finally felt what Mr. Conners feels every year he watches these productions. The feeling of learning something new from a different point of view. Especially with Gina Dukes, who has been a good friend of mine since 6th grade and we both attend Science Leadership Academy. I was very moved by her play that tells the story of a modern day Nigerian family learning to deal with change as they learn that a family member is gay, a taboo that garners much hate and violence as punishment.
– Nia Berry