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THEATER REVIEW: "Plays By Young Writers"

The 31st edition of Playwrights Project’s annual “Plays By Young Writers” offers four fully produced short plays and two staged readings (chosen from 269 submissions statewide) by young writers. As it happens, all six are by female writers between 11 and 18 years old.

The four produced plays – concerned with issues of education, work and a vision of a dystopian future – were presented on opening night at The Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, where the series will continue through Jan. 31.

In the touching “Fronteras Hechas Del Dinero” (borders made of money), playwright Jennifer Curiel (from Carlsbad's’s Pacific Ridge School) explores the value of education as high school student Sofia in Nayarit, Mexico tries to convince her mother that staying in high school will benefit the family more in the long run than the immediate gains of going to work now to help support the family.

Also exploring the world of work is Alara Magritte Slonaker’s “The Tangible Tollbooth,” in which a group of workers on the Golden Gate Bridge ponder the job-loss threat from the installation of Fastrak lanes that don’t require human intervention.

Slonaker, a senior at the Bay Area’s Hillsdale High School, plans to debut an original full-length musical this fall.

Lani Kording uses irony and parody to good advantage in “Quarter Cup,” a hoot of a play about education that also packs a punch. In this, Vice Principal Ms. Santana (played by Elizabeth Jimenez) announces (presumably to PTA parents) the creation of 40 new awards in order to make sure every student gets one.

The protagonist here is bright but smart-alecky Mitzi (Ciara Ceniceros), “honored” for a “Quarter Cup” of potential. Watch for Mitzi’s hilarious explanation of the War of 1812 ... and for Kording’s overall clever and biting parody of American education.

Kording is from Costa Mesa and attends Orange County School of the Arts.

Emily Midgley (a junior at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla) offers “The Acquittal,” a chilling piece which exposes the seamy, violent side of a future dystopian society which claims to be working for the good of its people.

This creepy and riveting script, wonderfully performed and well directed by George Yé, could give you George Orwell-sized nightmares.

Year after year, I am amazed at the quality of the Playwrights Project scripts. And every year, these kids convince me that the future of American theater is in good hands.

The details

Playwrights Project’s “Plays by Young Writers” plays through January 31, 2016 at the Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park.

Jan. 26, 10 am: Program B

Jan. 27, 28, 29, 10 am: Program A

Jan. 29, 7:30 pm and Jan. 30, 2 pm: Program B

7:30 pm Jan. 30, 7:30 pm and Jan. 31, 2 pm: Program A

Tickets: (858) 384-2970 or playwrightsproject.org

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.