The Salvation Army Kroc Center’s Joan B. Kroc Theatre in Rolando will be venue of plays. Photo via Facebook

Plays by four San Diego County students have been chosen for production or reading at the 35th annual festival of Plays by Young Writers in early 2020 at The Joan B. Kroc Theatre in Rolando.

The San Diego nonprofit Playwrights Project made the announcement Wednesday, saying contest winners were chosen from 561 submissions by students statewide.

The event is Jan. 29 through Feb. 1, 2020.

Three scripts will receive full professional productions, and one script will receive a staged reading, organizers said.

The winners:

  • Carlsbad’s Aiko Lozar, who was 15 when she wrote “Love is Blind: A Spoken Word Play” while attending Carlsbad High School, where she produced and directed her play for fellow students. The play is set in 2121 and love is treason. Asked is: Are Amber and Blake in love?
  • National City’s Jordan Marie Finley, who was 17 when she wrote her script “Feliz Cumpleaños” while attending Francis Parker School. In the play, Cami struggles to celebrate her birthday after her parents are deported. Jordan is now a freshman at UC Santa Barbara.
  • Carmel Valley’s Izzy Ster, who at 16, wrote her script “Like Father, Like Daughter” while attending Canyon Crest Academy. In her play, adulthood dawns on a daughter and her father over a series of coffee dates.
  • And Serra Mesa’s Torrey Woodfill, who wrote “The Hurricane” in a Playwrights Project playwriting residency at Creative and Performing Media Arts School. At age 11, Torrey is this year’s youngest playwright. In the play, two friends experience the emotional rollercoaster of facing their fears.

All entries submissions were evaluated blindly by contest coordinator Rachael VanWormer and a pool of theatre professionals.

The top 50 scripts were reviewed by Cecelia Kouma, who worked with VanWormer to choose eight finalists whose plays were evaluated by these final judges.

  • Lauren Yee, award-winning playwright and Plays by Young Writers alum.
  • Danielle Mages Amato, literary manager at The Old Globe Theatre.
  • Jacole Kitchen, artistic programs manager and local casting director at La Jolla Playhouse.
  • Thelma Virata de Castro, San Diego Playwrights founder.
  • Deborah Salzer, Playwrights Project founder.
  • And Ruff Yeager, co-founder Roustabouts Theatre and adjunct instructor at Southwestern College.

Yeager, also serving as festival artistic director, Kouma and VanWormer chose the final plays for the season based on the judges’ feedback and interviews of the top finalists.

All contest participants who requested feedback received individualized written critiques.

Selection criteria focused on creative ideas, intriguing and authentic characters, fresh use of language, a story that is revealed through dialog and action, and a script that would benefit from further development in the production process.

“This year’s production will be Playwrights Project’s first at The Salvation Army Kroc Center’s Joan B. Kroc Theatre, and we are excited to be producing the festival in this beautiful venue embedded in the community,” organizers said.

“This year’s festival is an opportunity to attract schools, patrons and community members new to Playwrights Project, and also to draw others south of the 8 freeway to help demystify what some perceive as a dividing line within the county.”

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