“Hidden Treasures” Session at AATE 2013


AATE National Conference, Bethesda, MD, July 26, 2013

Doctor John Newman, Utah Valley University  john.newman@uvu.edu

Doctor Beth Sherr, Open Eye Theater, Elizabeth.sherr@gmail.com

“Almost Doctor” Jim DeVivo, New York University’s Provincetown New Plays for Young Audiences series,  jvd210@nyu.edu


This session, at the annual national conference of the American Alliance for Theatre in Education in Bethesda, Maryland and sponsored by the AATE Playwriting Network, introduced participants to six “hidden treasure” plays.  These are plays for young audiences, published since the year 2000, that have been developed in the field, demonstrate superior dramatic writing, have often won major awards, and yet have not garnered as many productions and the developers and playwrights would like.  John Newman, Beth Sherr, and Jim DeVivo each presented two such plays and listed four or five more that they considered in their selection.  The session concluded with a discussion of ten ways we can help bring “hidden treasure” plays to light.


We Will Remember: A Tribute to Veterans by Sandra Fenichel Asher.  Five middle school students decide to learn more about war veterans.  Their interviews include a grandmother who was a veteran of the “home front” in World War II, a patient in a veterans’ hospital who served during the Korean War, an uncle who endure the war and the “war against the war” in Vietnam, and a female mid-shipman whose mother was called up for the first Gulf War.  Can be played by an ensemble of up to 16 plays, with up to 10 females, runs about 75 minutes. http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/advanced_search_result.php?search_title=we+will+remember 

Voices from the Shore by Max Bush.   Joel and his best friend Lucas are awaiting friends to attend a senior-year, spring-break, beach party. Joel seems abnormally tense as he and Lucas discuss their fears and hopes for the future. As Joel’s anxiety level rises, we begin to understand that he is hearing voices. These voices insistently torment Joel, resulting in him being admitted into an adolescent, acute care, psychiatric hospital.  Voices From the Shore celebrates the anxieties, triumphs and glories of young adults struggling with understanding their changing dreams and with the responsibility for realizing them.  Cast of 6 young men, 8 young women, all about 17-18 years old, runs 90 minutes. http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p1658/Voices-From-the-Shore/product_info.html


Mustardseed by Doug Cooney http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p1846/Mustardseed/product_info.html

Everything Is Not Enough by Sandra Fenichel Asher http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p444/Everything-Is-Not-Enough/product_info.html

Kara in Black by Max Bush http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p769/Kara-in-Black/product_info.html

Pedro’s Magic Shoes by Ric Averill http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2816/Los-Zapatos-M&%23225;gicos-de-Pedro-%28Pedro%27s-Magic-Shoes%29/product_info.html


Selkie (One act version) by Laurie Brooks is a coming of age story told with lyrical language, music, symbolism, and divine inspiration. It takes place on the isles north of Scotland but with Nordic influences. The seal people of the sea in a ceremony liken to a mid-summer’s night dream transform into maidens of the land. The story is about one such maiden and her quest for understanding.  Selkie is a Distinguished Play Award winner. http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2758/Selkie/product_info.html

Nightingale by William Electric Black (Ian Ellis James) and Amie Brockway was developed in a series of workshops by The Open Eye Theater. Based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen, it provides important lessons about friendship, loyalty, freedom, and nature’s beauty for general audiences. Grandpa tells Elizabeth and Jonathan the story of China’s Emperor, his discovery of hidden forest with a Nightingale, and his enchantment by the birdsong upset by a wise Japanese Emperor. http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=1053


The Sapphire Comb by Moses Goldberg http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2561/The-Sapphire-Comb/product_info.html

The Princess and the Goblin by Sandra Fenichel Asher http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2839/The-Princess-and-the-Goblin-%28Asher%29/product_info.html

Sundiata by Ed Mast

The Death and Life of Sherlock Holmes by Suzan Zeder http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2382/The-Death-and-Life-of-Sherlock-Holmes/product_info.html


WOMEN OF WONDER by Lowell Swortzell.  Four plays with songs; can be produced with framework, or separately. Originally produced at New York University in 2002; published by Dramatic Publishing. Inspired by the author’s research on American folklore, these plays tell the stories of women whose strength helped shape the character of the country: Bess Call, Sal Fink, Sweet Betsy from Pike, and Rosie the Riveter. Useful for class projects in addition to production. Running time approximately 75 minutes. http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2209/Women-of-Wonder/product_info.html

NASTY by Ramon Esquivel. One-act. Originally produced at New York University in 2009; published by Dramatic Publishing. An exploration of teenage life in the Internet Age that follows four high school students (3w, 1m) as they navigate a personal conflict using social media and their online avatars. Individual actors can play each roll (6w, 2m), or can double as both a person and their avatar (3w, 1m). Appropriate for teenagers. Running time approximately 75 minutes.  http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2743/Nasty/product_info.html


Before the People Came by Jeff Obafemi Carr (unpublished)

River Rat and Cat by Y York http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p1927/River-Rat-and-Cat/product_info.html

Gossamer by Lois Lowry http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p3601/Gossamer/product_info.html

The Three Little Wolves by Larry Brenner (unpublished)

Salvation Road by D.W. Gregory (unpublished)


1.       Use theatre and personal website to promote developed plays:

Seattle Children’s Theatre, CTC Minneapolis  www.playsforyoungaudiences.org

Open Eye Theatre http://theopeneye.org

 NYU Provincetown Series: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/edtheatre/programs/summer/newplays/history

 Highland High, UVU, Playwrights In Our Schools:  newmanplays.com

2.       Use Social Media (twitter, facebook, google+) to promote the plays we develop

          and look at howlround.com’s new play map: http://newplaymap.org/

3.       Pair a title script with a non-title script (Sandy Asher’s “Good Company” model)

4.       Create a smaller space for the performance of new works

5.       Send out an open or limited call for new scripts, or start with inviting several writers to apply.

6.       Look for new plays to produce in AATE’s “Award Winning Plays” and “New Plays by Members” directories.

7.       Examine the self-imposed barriers we put on our play selections.

8.       Get ourselves on play selection committee, or nominate plays to theatres on play surveys.

9.       Expand and exploit the term “premiere” (regional, community theatre, university, rolling, etc.).

10.   Develop a long-term relationship and a local following for a playwright.

Link to script submission information for Provincetown Series 2014:  http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/edtheatre/programs/summer/newplays


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