The Savannah Stage Company continues to push the envelope for local theater by incorporating a variety of stories and perspectives in its repertoire through the Savannah Playwrights' Series.
For its next event in the ongoing series, the company will be hosting Young Writers' Night at Space Station at Starlandia on Sept. 23.
"We began the Savannah Playwrights' Series back in 2013 and produced local playwrights' work with the focus on how to make the play better," explains Bryan Pridgen, co-founder and director of Young Writers' Night. "We've brought SPS back this year for our 'Season of Values' in our Young Writers' Night, an opportunity for young playwrights in our area to have a voice and improve their storytelling skills."
This iteration of the SPS is part of a young-adult playwriting competition Savannah Stage Company held that was open to all middle school and high school students in Savannah/Chatham County. The young playwrights who were selected will have their writings staged in a professional reading.
"We posted a brief tutorial on how to get started writing a play and from there it was all in the writers' hands," says Pridgen. "Many had help from a teacher at school, but some submissions were from pieces students had previously written and performed. With each performance of a new piece, you learn so much about that world, and it's extremely helpful for a young playwright to see their work performed. That's when it truly becomes theater, when the words leave the page."
He continued, "What we will perform is not a fully staged production, but a stage reading with no sets or costumes, only a few chairs. Professional actors will be reading from young writers' scripts after each play goes through a rehearsal process. Our writers will also receive feedback from our company on how to grow and make their play better."
Pridgen says this focus on growth is one of the company's core values. It also can't be understated how valuable it is to give young people a voice in a supportive and encouraging environment like Savannah Stage Company is doing.
"We had a flood of plays come in on that final day from so many different schools," says Pridgen. "It was great to see so many participate. To read their work was the cherry on top. You have some plays with very mature themes like rape and abuse, but also stories of friendship, falling in love and breaking up. Some writers experimented with adaptations - historical adaptations as well as children's books. Emojis, time-travelin, and cannibalism are also explored in this collection of 10-minute plays. These plays are wild - truly creative and unique."
There will also be a grand prize awarded for the selected best play. Pridgen encourages one and all to come out and support these young playwrights. It's incredibly meaningful for young people to have support from their community in ways like this.
And as Pridgen points out, "This Young Writers' Night is an investment in the future of our art form."
IF YOU GO
What: Savannah Playwrights' Series Presents: Young Writers' Night, hosted by Savannah Stage Company
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 23
Where: Space Station at Starlandia, 2436 Bull St.
Cost: $10 or pay what you can
Info: savannahstagecompany.com, 912-421-9484