Celebrating its 22nd season, New Plays for Young Audiences will stage rehearsed readings of three new plays exploring the price of popularity, a Mayan girl’s adventure at sea, and immigration as experienced by youth.

A staged reading of of an earlier performance as part of the New Plays for Young Audiences series. Photo by Ben Ouriel.

Celebrating its 22nd season, New Plays for Young Audiences will stage rehearsed readings of three new plays exploring the price of popularity, a Mayan girl’s adventure at sea to save her brother, and the complicated issue of immigration as experienced by youth. These staged readings are presented by NYU Steinhardt’s Educational Theatre program at the historic Provincetown Playhouse from June 8-23, 2019 and are free and open to the public.

The plays are the outgrowth of New Plays for Young Audiences’ annual summer play development series, established in 1998 by Lowell and Nancy Swortzell. The prize-winning series has developed dozens of new plays written by leading playwrights for young audiences and families, many of which have gone on to receive both national and international recognition, publication, and production.

Popularity Coach is an original script for young audiences which explores gender expectations and is being developed by playwright Brian Guehring. The play tells the story of Cooper, a third-grader who desperately wants to be popular, but is unlike the sports-playing, superhero-loving boys in his class. His neighbor Mia also would like to be popular, but would rather play sports than braid hair and take ballet. When the popular seventh-grader Blake offers to be their Popularity Coach for a low price, Cooper and Mia sign up for the ten-lesson unit (despite scoffing from Blake’s rebellious older sibling AJ). Cooper and Mia have to eventually decide how much the price of being popular is really worth. Brian Guehring is an award-winning Theater for Young Audiences teaching artist who is currently the Playwright in Residence and Education Director at the Omaha Theater Company for Young People. Adil Mansoor directs. Mansoor is a Pittsburgh-based theatre director and educator centering queer people of color and their stories. Best enjoyed by ages 9 and up. Rehearsed readings are on Saturday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 9 at 3 p.m.

Itzel: The Pirate Queen by José Cruz González is a new play about an adventurous Mayan girl named Itzel whose world is forever changed when Spanish marauders steal away her little brother Dacey. Itzel must sail across an ocean to save him but is captured by the infamous privateer Captain Blood, who sails the high seas seeking Spanish treasure. Years pass, and through a series of adventurous exploits, Itzel becomes a well-known privateer. The Spanish are out to get her. In a great battle at sea, her brother Dacey, now a defender of Spain, defeats his sister (who he has long forgotten). Will Itzel go the gallows or will she manage to convince her brother that she is his sister and change the course of history? José Cruz González is a playwright writing for young audiences and is based in Los Angeles, California. Armando Molina directs. Molina is an LA-based director and Artistic Director of Company of Angels Theater. Best enjoyed by ages 10 and up. Rehearsed readings on Saturday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 16 at 3 p.m.

Return to Sender by Marisela Treviño Orta tackles the complicated issue of immigration and how it touches the lives of children and their families. After Tyler’s father is injured in a tractor accident, his family is forced to hire migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure. Tyler isn’t sure what to make of these workers. Are they undocumented? And what about the three daughters, particularly Mari, the oldest, who is proud of her Mexican heritage but also increasingly connected to her American life? Her family lives in constant fear of being discovered by the authorities and sent back to the poverty they left behind in Mexico. Can Tyler and Mari find a way to be friends despite their differences? Return to Sender is an adaptation of the Julia Alvarez novel by the same name and was commissioned by the Nashville Children’s Theatre. Marisela Treviño Orta is an alumna of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, a Core Writer at the Playwrights Center, and currently a member of the Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit. Ernie Nolan directs. Nolan is the Executive Artistic Director of the Nashville Children’s Theatre and sits on the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ, the international children’s theatre service organization. Best enjoyed by ages 11 and up. Rehearsed readings on Saturday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 23 at 3 p.m.

All rehearsed readings are in the Provincetown Playhouse. Tickets are FREE. There are no advance reservations. Tickets will be available at the theatre’s box office beginning an hour before each reading.

The Provincetown Playhouse is located at 133 MacDougal Street, between West 4th and West 3rd streets [Subway: A, C, D, E, F, M (West 4th St.)]. Reporters interested in attending should contact Sarah Binney at 212.998.6829 or sarah.binney@nyu.edu.  For more information on the series, contact David Montgomery at dm635@nyu.edu or 212.998.5869.

New Plays for Young Audiences is supported by The Nancy and Lowell Swortzell Permanent Fund in Educational Theatre and with thanks to NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.

Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. Music and Performing Arts Professions serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in-education (music, dance, and drama).