PLAYground Purple Crayons Players Festival

The 14th Annual Purple Crayon Players PLAYground of Fresh Works Festival will celebrate plays written for young audiences this Saturday and Sunday at Seabury Hall.

The festival will feature “The Dummy Class” by playwright Dave Osmundsen, “Heart Strings” by Lee Cataluna, “Salomé’s Tour de France” by senior communications officer Mariana Reyes Daza, and playwright’s “The Show Ends When the Stoop Breaks”. Cris Eli Blak. The plays will be followed by a conversation with the authors and directors.

PCP selected three plays written by professionals and worked with the Northwestern Undergraduate Playwriting Program and Imagine U, a group that produces shows for younger audiences, to commission a play written by students. The plays are intended for audiences between the ages of 3 and 18 and have not been published or professionally produced.

Arella Flur, communications junior and festival producer, said she was delighted that PCP was looking for an original theater designed for young audiences.

“A lot of what you’ll see in children’s theaters or youth theaters across the country is often based on books or movies that already have a brand name,” Flur said. “We’re really keen on celebrating new voices, diverse voices and bringing those original ideas to the stage.”

PCP focuses on plays that empower young people by centering the young person as the initiator of change, Flur said.

“Le Tour de France de Salomé” was inspired by the cyclist daughter of the gardener of Reyes Daza in Colombia. The community of Salomé comes together to encourage her to realize her dream of owning and riding a bicycle.

Reyes Daza said it was important for her to create more stories for young audiences about countries other than the United States and to inspire young people to approach their dreams step by step.

When she first wrote the play, she said she wanted to write from a feminist perspective, but she realized that this goal had gotten lost in the rewording and tried to refocus on it. goal of empowering individuals who identify with women.

She also said that she is learning to incorporate more difficult topics into her stories for young people.
“At first, I didn’t dive too deeply into the important themes of friendship, goals and dreams,” Reyes Daza said. “But during this process, I reminded myself that we have to trust young audiences.”

Osmundsen’s play tells a story from the early 2000s about a group of neurodivergent children in a class with special needs. Their teacher convinces them to join the school’s talent show to show off their skills.

Osmundsen said the “r-word” used to be used as a slur against the neurodivergent community and was rampant in the early 2000s, including among young children. Osmundsen said her play uses the r-word very deliberately to show how language can influence children and how they can use words against each other or dehumanize marginalized groups.

“I myself am autistic; I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was three, so I spent a good part of my elementary school years in those rooms, with those students,” he said. “So I was really drawing from the perspective of growing up in that kind of environment.”

Communication student Alondra Rios is the director of “The Show Ends When the Stoop Breaks”. The piece is about a low-income community of color and revolves around two best friends, whose mural honoring their friend is at risk of being removed by a developer, who is a white male outside the community.

Rios said she was interested in directing the play because the shows at this festival hold a big place in her heart. She was drawn to “The Show Ends When the Stoop Breaks” because she felt it represented underrepresented minority communities in TYA theater. She wanted to highlight the issues of discrimination, racism and the struggles of these communities, but also celebrate the art they produce.

“In the piece, I really try to bring out the dance and the music and the poetry, which are great ways of expression in these minority communities,” she said.

Rios said what excites him about PLAYground this year is the range of stories being told.

“I think it’s so beautiful that we have such a variety of shows from different viewpoints and directors that really bring out those voices,” she said.

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