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Budding playwrights meet in virtual retreat

Heesun Hwang, Jasmine Sharma and Carlos-Zenen Trujillo, top row, and Kathryn de la Rosa and Ty Greenwood, bottom row, were chosen for the Ashland New Plays Festival’s inaugural New Voices Playwright Retreat.
Ashland New Plays Festival mentoring new talent

The Ashland New Plays Festival’s inaugural New Voices Playwright Retreat is in session this week ― in a videoconference format.

Hailing from Brooklyn to Seattle, emerging playwrights Kathryn de la Rosa, Ty Greenwood, Heesun Hwang, Jasmine Sharma and Carlos-Zenen Trujillo are in a virtual retreat to work with mentors and guest artists as they develop new scripts.

“I am looking forward to expanding (my) play and diving deeper into the characters,” said Greenwood, a Seattle resident. “I am also very excited about my cohort members. ... This is by far the most diverse group I’ve been a part of. And the mentorship is going to be amazing.”

Mentors for the week include comedy writer and playwright Sarah Cho; playwright and TV writer Inda Craig-Galván; theater director, adapter and activist Lavina Jadhwani; senior cultural strategist and dramaturg for Play On Shakespeare Amrita Ramanan, and Luan Schooler, Artist Repertory Theatre’s director of new play development and dramaturgy.

"It's been an incredibly difficult year — emotionally, physically and financially,” said ANPF artistic director Jackie Apodaca. “My hope for the retreat is to ‘buy back’ some of these playwrights’ time, from their day jobs or other commitments, so they can spend that on developing their art.

ANPF is best known for its play competition that culminates in a fall festival reading of four new plays chosen out of hundreds of submissions.

In addition to mentorships, the retreat features special sessions with New Voices guest artists who share their experience and insights.

Guest artists include Octavio Solis, playwright and ANPF associate artist; Oregon Shakespeare Festival literary manager Paul Adolphsen; Dana Lynn Formby, playwright and faculty member at Chicago Dramatists; actor, director and co-founder of UNIVERSES Steven Sapp, and Beth Kander, a Chicago-based playwright and author.

The retreat week will conclude in conversations with the playwrights that will be made available on ANPF’s social media platforms and podcast.

The playwrights will reconnect with ANPF this fall for a live virtual panel during ANPF’s Fall Festival, Oct. 20-24, where they will talk about their work and what it’s like to be a new writer during this unprecedented time. Each playwright receives a $500 stipend.

For more information, see ashlandnewplays.org/season.