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Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts (Charter Arts) Theatre Department presented its New Plays Festival May 3. The productions were written by student playwrights, then produced, directed and performed by Charter Arts theatre majors with design support from students of the Charter Arts Production Arts Department.

According to the theatre department, the 2024 New Plays Festival featured four plays. “The Krebs Cycle” by Patrick Biason is a wild romp into a future that depicts the inevitable and repetitive demise of our civilization and beyond. “Bridge” by Sarai Music gives us an intimate look into the relationship between a young man and his beloved grandfather, as valuable life lessons are shared over fishing. “Nose-dive” by Sal Pandolfo and Elliot Farley follows Valentina, an immigrant and aspiring journalist, as she struggles to share the truth about her homeland while those around her fight to suppress it. “Just Fish” by Ektor Chatzopoulos poses the comically philosophical question of what happens when an aquarium full of fish suddenly becomes enlightened.

New Plays Festival is part of the “Fundamentals of Scriptwriting” course, a senior course taught by faculty member Diane Wagner. Students examine the essential elements of storytelling with an emphasis on dramatic structure and developing dialogue. Students learn the basics of scripting for stage and screen through exercises and practice, culminating in the completion of three scripts, due at the end of each of the first three quarters.

Wagner says the festival is a collaboration between upperclassmen, and theatre and production arts students.

“The culmination of work in our junior and senior theatre classes prepares our seniors for writing the scripts and our juniors for roles as directors,” she says. “Seniors submit scripts to be voted on and juniors present directing proposals, then there’s casting and delegation of other responsibilities, and before you know it, we’re up and running.

“It’s such a joy to see this come together each year. I think the first New Plays Festival was in 2005, and since then we’ve seen so many of our students go on to become accomplished playwrights, like Josh Gulotta, who received an MFA in playwriting from Pace, Anna Langman, who received an MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College, and Megan Schadler, who is currently pursuing her MA in writing for stage and broadcast media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

“Our alumni include Chase Yenser, whose play, “Pictures and Dreams,” written as a student with us, provided him with a commission opportunity with Horizon Theatre New Young South Playwrights Festival.”

The production received rave reviews from the exuberant audience. The quality of the pieces and performances exemplifies the creative spirit and skilled artistry that is present in the school.