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The Kennedy Center

Winners of the VSA Playwright Discovery Award Program

The 2014 VSA Playwright Discovery Winners are:

Senior Division (Grades 10-12)

Andrew Child (On the Isle of the Lotus-Eaters) is a rising senior at Cardinal Spellman High School in Massachusetts, where he actively participates in theater and production. Some of his favorite past productions have included: Arsenic and Old Lace, Sweeney Todd, And Then There Were None, Kiss Me Kate, Oklahoma!, Bye Bye Birdie, and West Side Story. For the past few years he interned with the Bridgewater State University's Arts for Youth Summer Program, where he has experienced firsthand the benefits of theater education. A lover of medieval literature and the Arthurian legend, Andrew is currently a member of the International Arthurian Society; North American Branch.

Nayereh Doosti (In Your Shoes) , originally from Shiraz, Iran, is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy. She is a student of the Iranian author, Aboutorab Khosravi, who has been her mentor since the age of 15, guiding her through the publication of her debut short story collection in Iran. She is the winner of three Kharazmi Medals (the highest honor in Iran for student creative writing), several Gold and Silver Keys from Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and the Blank Theater Playwriting Contest. Her work has been published in several literary reviews both in Iran and in the U.S, such as Interlochen Review, Dastan, and Bacheha Golagha. She won the CTS Publication short story contest, which will publish a collection of her short stories in the fall.

Hannah Jarzombek (Skin Deep) is a rising senior at La Vernia High School in La Vernia, Texas and an avid reader and writer. She plans to attend the University of Texas in the fall of 2015 studying English and Creative Writing. During high school, she wrote two one-act plays, a TV episode, a novel, updated two classic works, and went to the state level in the National History Day History Fair. She is published in the poetry anthology, Dreamcatcher. She is highly active in her school's Speech and Debate program, One Act Play, and National Honor Society. She has competed at the state level in Speech and Debate twice and the area level in One Act Play. She plans to have a novel self-published on Kindle before she graduates high school.

Emma Morris (Space-Girl) is a freshman at Northern Kentucky University and a graduate of J.M. Atherton High School in Louisville, Kentucky. She originally turned to writing as a way to cope with her generalized anxiety disorder and depression when she was younger. She now looks to writing as a way to tell stories she wishes she had heard before. Her work Space-Girl was originally read at Actors' Theatre of Louisville in the 2014 New Voice Young Playwrights' Festival, directed by Talleri McRae. Her short-story adaptation received an honorable recognition from the Renau Foundation.

Billy Recce (Happy) is composer, lyricist, and librettist of Balloon Boy: The Musical, which was the winner of the 2014 Thespian Musicalworks competition. Balloon Boy: The Musical has been performed throughout the country from Lincoln, Nebraska to New York City, and will be produced in Fort Collins, Colorado this fall. In addition to musicals, his other works extensively cover social justice, and have been recognized by the United Nations, as well as performed at various venues across New York.

Caitlin "Cat" Reynolds (Group) , is from Houston, Texas and is entering her senior year at Cypress Ranch High School. Enchanted by both music and dialogue, she began writing musicals at the age of 13. Her first musical, Oh, Operator!, was produced in January 2014 at Applause Theatrical School and Theatre Company. Since then she has had various shows and readings of her original scripts and music, with her debut album, Favorite Words, premiering in September. She hopes to continue to pursue writing as a career after she graduates.

Madalyn Rymer (Layover) is currently a freshman at the University of Mary Washington. Raised as a military child, she has lived around the country, but most recently in Yorktown, Virginia. While living there, she had the opportunity to enroll in School of the Arts, a literary arts magnet arts program. Through the program, she developed her playwriting skills and furthered her creative writing abilities.

Jc Statt (Ikelos) will be a freshman at Miami University (Ohio) this fall, majoring in Interactive Media Studies. He graduated from St. Xavier High School of Cincinnati. His play, titled Ikelos, was written during his senior year at St. Xavier High School. He was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at age 6, but this hasn't stopped him from wrestling and being involved in various theatrical endeavors. His favorite role was playing Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily, in part due to a climactic sword fight. In the future, he looks forward to juggling college, staying physically active, and producing Ikelos again.

Senior Division Winners are brought to Washington, D.C. for a weekend of pre-professional activities, including workshops, staged readings, and round table discussions with distinguished theater professionals. Excerpts of four senior division scripts will be performed as staged readings on Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 6 p.m. on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. The event is free and open to the public. The performance will also be simulcast live on our website.

Junior Division (Grades 8-9)

Junior Division Winners are students from:

  • Emma Willard School in Niverville, New York
  • Green Residential Community House in Ringwood, New Jersey; and
  • Jemicy School in Baltimore, Maryland

Each winner will receive a certificate of award and his or her school will receive $500 to put towards arts programming.

Primary Division (Grades 6-7)

Primary Division Winners are students from:

  • Northwest Junior High in Coralville, Iowa
  • White Pine School in White Pine, Tennessee; and
  • William Alexander Middle School 51 in Brooklyn, New York

Each winner will receive a certificate of award and his or her school will receive $500 to put towards arts programming.