Pendragon hosts Young Playwrights Festival April 5

Pendragon Theatre will host its first annual Young Playwrights’ Festival at 10 a.m. April 5.

The event will be a celebration of the young, bright minds of middle and high school student writers throughout the Adirondack Park. Each play submitted for adjudication will be given constructive feedback, the winning play(s) will be performed after having the chance to work and rehearse with a professional creative team and readings of the runner(s) up will be performed by professional actors.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Pendragon invites children in grades one to six to join Jessica Deeb and Executive Artistic Director Karen Lordi-Kirkham for a workshop entitled “Playwriting on Your Feet.”

From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., attendees are invited to join judges Fred Balzac, Karen Lewis and Karen Lordi-Kirkham for an invigorating panel discussion on playwriting.

At 7 p.m., the runner(s) up will have their plays read and the winning play(s) will be performed for the public. Reception to follow.

The judges

F.E. Balzac Jr. has been writing plays since at least junior high school. A product of the Fair Lawn, N.J., public school system, he attended Columbia University, where he first had a play produced at the tender age of 19 – a Samuel Beckett-inspired metaphysical inquiry into time and space called “The Last Chance Lemonade Stand.”

Two of his one-act plays, “Up Against the Wall, Mother Teresa” and “Is It Time Yet?,” have been produced Off-Off-Broadway in New York City. His play, “Who’s Buried With Lou Gehrig’s Disease?,” was awarded second prize in the Adirondack Center for Writing/North Country Public Radio One-Act Play competition in 2004-a staged reading of which, at Pendragon Theatre, is still kicking around the archives of NCPR ( Balzac has worked professionally as a copywriter, product manager, medical editor-writer, media coordinator, web-content provider, and freelance journalist-interviewing such major theater figures as director Anne Bogart, stage and film actors James Tolkan and Michael Moriarty, and the late, great impresario, Joe Papp.

A year-round resident of the Adirondacks, Balzac lives with his wife, Kathleen Recchia and their son, Sam Balzac, now a Columbia undergraduate himself.

George J. Bryjak taught sociology at the University of San Diego for 24 years before moving to the Adirondack Park region of New York State with his wife, Diane. He is the co-author of four sociology textbooks and numerous scholarly articles.

His one-act plays have been performed in New York, Buffalo, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Denver, and Pittsburgh. His play “Stick-Em-Up!” was the one-act winner at the 2007 Theatre Association of New York State festival and published by Independent Playwrights. “Close Encounter” was the second place winner at the 2009 Atwater Playhouse (Los Angeles) Playwriting Festival and was published by Original Works Online. His book, “The Power of the Dark Goddess and Other Stories,” was published by Myopic Moose Press

Karen L. Lewis’s “Under the Stars & Bars” performed at the Spoleto Festival, “Behind a Mask” produced off B’way by Theatre of the Open Eye, “George Sand, a Passionate Cantata” commissioned by Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake and later produced at the Invisible Eye in Arizona.

A Mary Roberts Rinehart Grant to complete a work in progress was awarded to “Ezili”; A reading of “Fragments” at the WPA in NYC. “Safe Harbor” produced by Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake. “Even” was first read at the The Last Frontier Theatre Festival and nominated for the Susan Nims Distinguished Playwriting Award. Her latest full-length play, “The Perfect Wife” won The 2012 Stanley Drama Award, was a semi-finalist for the 2012 Eugene O’Neill Theatre’s National Playwrights Conference and a finalist in the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte’s nuVoices for a nuGeneration Playwriting Festival. Writing soaps for ABC and CBS resulted in five Emmys and three Writers Guild Awards. Member of The Writers Guild of America and The Dramatists’ Guild.

Karen Lordi-Kirkham has extensive experience directing in both regional and academic settings.

She has directed for the Jean Cocteau Repertory, Handcart Ensemble and Phoenix Ensemble in New York City the Attic Theater in Los Angeles (where she received the Drama Logue’s Award for Best Director and Production) and Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake.

After more than a decade of directing for Pendragon, she took over as Executive Artistic Director in 2013. She has directed productions ranging from musicals to new plays, including the world premiere of Andre Gregory’s “Bone Songs,” for which she also served as the dramaturg working extensively with Gregory pre-publication of the script.

Highlights include directing Julie Harris in the world premiere of Peter Dee’s “Amber Patches,” touring shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Berlin, assisting Marshall Mason for the Broadway production of Lanford Wilson’s “Redwood Curtain” and assisting Jiri Zizka and being dramaturg for the Wilma Theater’s production of Stoppard’s “Every Good Boy Deserves Favor” with the Philadelphia orchestra.

She has additional experience in dance, dance theater and choreography. She graduated with a MFA and DFA from the Yale School of Drama, where she was the artistic director of the Yale Summer Cabaret.

She is also a full professor of theater and Dance at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.

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