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Six Students Picked For Young Playwrights Festival

Move over August Wilson, there’s a new playwright in town — actually, there are six.

Western Pennsylvania middle and high school students will see their work come to life on stage this weekend as part of 14th annual Young Playwrights Festival.

City Theatre receives more than 200 scripts a year from aspiring playwrights, and a literary committee whittles that number down to three middle school plays and three high school plays.

Kristen Link, director of education at City Theatre, said applicants need to be seventh through 12th grade students living in Western Pennsylvania in order to qualify for the festival.

“It’s always a really, really tough decision,” she said. “And every year we’re sort of distraught over the fact that there are multiple plays that we really think could be great contenders for production at City Theatre.”

In the middle school division, Honesty and Hope LeGrande’s “The Amazon: Race to the Cure” follows a scientist and supermodel on their mission to find a rare flower with some extraordinary powers. Lily Buchanan’s “Deck the Halls” looks at a family of Irish immigrants in 1905 as they struggle to make it through the Christmas season. Lastly, Ariana Distler and Alayna Perrine’s “What Are the Odds?” explores the life of an aging man through a series of lottery numbers that lead to five nostalgic flashbacks.

The high school division winners include Mayah El-Dehaibi’s “Dial Tone” which focuses on a young girl, who, after her grandfather’s death, finds a tin can telephone in the attic that allows her to communicate with the “other side.” Shea Minter’s “Flicker” takes the audience into the mind of a clinically depressed woman named Lucy as she tries to overcome her illness and cope with everyday life. Finally, Tyler Hudson’s “Tame (This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven)” revolves around an all-controlling post-apocalyptic radio station and one disc jockey’s attempt to bring individuality back into the world.

Link said the playwrights are involved in almost every aspect of production.

“They’re welcome to attend the auditions that we have for the festivals,” she said. “They can sit in design meetings. They come to rehearsal and often times might be even asked to make some small changes in their script right there in rehearsal because it is a new play process.”

Productions begin at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and tickets start at $10 for students and $15 for adults.