The Rep’s WiseWrite Digital Play Festival Showcases Young Playwrights

Monday | Sep. 28, 2020

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis premiers three new short plays from young area playwrights in its annual WiseWrite Play Festival.

The free, virtual showcase of these new works, performed by professional actors, premieres on The Rep’s YouTube channel on October 2 at 6 p.m. CDT.

“We are proud to amplify the work of these talented new playwrights,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director.  “I am continuously amazed by the brilliance and creativity of our youth, and I can’t wait for everyone to see these funny, exciting and inspiring works, read by some of St. Louis’s favorite actors.”

In its 24th year, The Rep’s WiseWrite program was designed to teach fifth and sixth graders playwriting and help them find their voices and unlock their creativity. Because of the coronavirus, The Rep moved WiseWrite online, sharing training videos which allowed students, teachers and parents to explore playwriting at their own pace and inviting young people to submit their short plays to the digital festival. The Rep also expanded the program to include grades 4 through 12.

“I’ve seen firsthand how providing a platform for children to activate their agency and shape their creativity can shift the trajectory of their lives,” said Adena Varner, The Rep’s Director of Learning and Community Engagement. “WiseWrite not only improves young people’s writing skills, it enhances critical thinking and empowers them to believe that their thoughts are valid and important.”

On October 2, three new plays will premiere online and be available for viewing throughout The Rep’s 2020-21 season.

The Magical Medicine by Avery Etling, 10, from Our Lady of the Pillar School, is a magical adventure in which Alex and her friends must overcome all the obstacles an enchanted forest throws their way in an effort to save Grandma. "A lot of what I am reading right now is about magic,” said Etling, “and I'm interested in how that world works."

Bearly Alive! by Thomas Kessler, 16, from Webster Groves High School, is a wonderfully absurdist comedy, in which questions keep growing and the answers are slim. Why does Camryn have animals as doctors? It doesn't matter, and that is the best part. "I wanted to write something whimsical," says Kessler.

Evie Can Almost Hear You by Marin Mackey, 17, from Crossroads College Prep, is a classic teenage melodrama that focuses on Evie's fear and her optimism and culminates with a strong message to love and trust the only voice that matters, your own. Mackey says, "This play is based on my own experience."

The cast and creative team include Director Amelia Acosta Powell; Cast Members Carmen Garcia, Alicia Reve Like, Victor Mendez, Carl Overly Jr. and Becks Redman; Stage Manager Carolyn Ivy Carter; Video Editor Phillip Hamer; and Props/Costumes Consultants Jennifer Horton and Sheila Lenkman.

WiseWrite is presented with generous assistance from Mary Ann Lee, Dana Brown Charitable Trust, The DeWitt and Caroline Van Evera Foundation, Clifford Willard Gaylord Foundation, DCA Family Foundation, US Bank and the Enterprise Holdings Foundation. To see the WiseWrite Digital Play Festival for free, visit The Rep’s YouTube channel on or after October 2 at 6 p.m. For more information, call The Rep Box Office at 314-968-4925.