Originially published to The Oakland Press on August 5th, 2022
Out of 50 submissions, 10 finalists have been chosen for Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit’s annual New Voices: Detroit Youth Playwright and Composers Competition — three of them Oakland County students.
Eleventh grade students from Rochester High School, Southfield Christian School and Michigan Virtual Charter Academy in Hazel Park were among the young playwrights and lyricists selected as winners in the third annual competition, which allows metro Detroit students in grades 8-12 to submit a rough draft of a play or song for a chance to be selected and paired with a professional mentor to mold their idea into a short production or composition.
Each winning playwright or lyricist will see their vision come to life as each script and composition is directed by a local professional and produced by Mosaic Youth Theatre at 6 p.m. August 12, at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
This year’s theme, Behind the Mask, aims to shed light on the importance and effect of mental health among youth. Students chose the theme as a play on words due to having to wear masks throughout the pandemic while young people also often times feel they need to wear “masks” to hide their true selves in social settings and everyday life.
“When the young artists suggested youth mental health as the theme for this round of the New Voices: Detroit we were in full support,” said Mosaic’s Executive & Artistic Director DeLashea Strawder. “Theater and music have long been instrumental in community healing and community building. Supporting youth to use their art as a platform to share stories about this important topic and bring people together is truly a privilege.”
A panel of judges from local and national theaters chose finalists based on three key elements: uniqueness and honesty of the story, if the story resonated with more than one individual, and did the writer have a unique perspective on the story they were telling.
In addition to having the opportunity to work with a mentor coach, all ten finalists were awarded $500.
Finalists were paired with a director to meet via Zoom and share their vision and ideas. Scripts and compositions are then turned over to the director, who then relays the vision to the cast and creative team.
The original script writers and composers will see their piece for the first time during the production at the DIA. Each production is about 10 to 15-pages long, which runs about 12 minutes and no composition is over three minutes long.
The New Voices: Detroit program was created as a way to offer young artists the ability to learn about other creative pathways in theater, other than acting.
“Students really enjoy the creative process of building on ideas and sharing stories,” said Strawder. “There aren’t a lot of programs in southeast Michigan to learn about the art of playwriting and music compositions. We wanted to help create that access for young people in our community.”
This will be Mosaic Youth Theatre’s first return to the DIA since December 2019. Tickets and reservations can be made on their website.
This year’s New Voices: Detroit winners include:
• Ahlam K, lyricist, 11th grade, Detroit International Academy for Young Women
• Celia H., playwright, 11th grade, Michigan Virtual Charter Academy
• Carrington P., playwright, 10th grade, Detroit Edison Early College of Excellence
• Dania M., lyricist,11th grade, Detroit International Academy for Young Women
• Jordan P., playwright, 12th grade, Detroit Edison Early College of Excellence
• Justin W., playwright, 11th grade, Rochester High School
• Nadia J., playwright, 11th grade, Southfield Christian School
• Nya W., playwright, 8th grade, Bates Academy
• Olivia J., lyricist, 11th grade, Detroit International Academy for Young Women
• Skylar T., playwright, 10th grade, Cass Technical High School
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit offers several programs for all age groups including a College Career Pathways program which shares scholarship opportunities, internships in various career pathways to support student’s continuing education in the arts and theater. For more information about Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit visit, mosaicdetroit.org
To learn more about Michigan Virtual Charter Academy, visit https://mvca.k12.com/