Fierce and True: plays for teens

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Earlier this week a package showed up my desk containing a bright orange book with the bold title “Fierce and True.”

To my surprise, it was a collection of plays commissioned by Children’s Theatre Company: Lost Boys of Sudan, Anon(ymous), Prom and Five Fingers of Funk.

Huh, I thought, the theatre company is getting in the book business.

To find out more I checked in with CTC Artistic Director Peter Brosius, who edited the book along with Elissa Adams, CTC’s director of new play development. Here’s what Brosius had to say:

What inspired you to publish Fierce and True?

We have been blessed by working with some of the leading artists in the United States to create new work for this age group. These plays have touched lives, ignited imaginations and started community wide conversations. These artists have set a new standard in theatre for young people in the quality of the writing, the vividness of theatrical imagination, and the profundity of their engagement with contemporary society. We are immensely proud of this work and wanted to share it to have it performed across the country, to inspire others to create work for this age group and to challenge accepted notions of what constitutes theatre for teens.

Who do you see as the market for this book?

Theatre companies both professional and community based, schools, colleges, community centers, teachers, camp leaders, academics, youth workers, libraries. People who are curious, people who are interested in new developments in the arts, People who like to read good plays.

Are there many theaters out there doing shows specifically for teens? If not, do you think it’s possible to change that?

Not enough. I think that by showing the quality of this work and the breadth of the artists we can inspire artists and inspire theatres to think about this as an audience of importance and vitality. At the Children’s Theatre Company, we have seen firsthand how engaging with this audience feeds the artists, gives them new perspectives, new energy and hope. We have been thrilled to see our theatre filled with teens eager to see new work-coming with their friends, a date, their parents or their school. This audience is optimistic, engaged, extraordinarily savvy and sophisticated. We know that the professional theatre field needs to embrace this next generation and needs to do it now so that we find new ways to be in dialogue and be challenged and transformed by this next generation. This is a critical audience–they are tastemakers, innovators, breaking new ground and moving this culture forward–they are a cultural and political force and play a huge role in defining fashion, music and new media and more.

Now that you’ve published this collection, do you think you will do it again? Is the first in a series, or a singular event?

Funny, you should ask, I am writing an introduction now for the second in this series of new plays to be published by the wonderful University of Minnesota Press, which will look at the work that we have produced that examines the Face of America today. These are plays that we have produced for multi-generational audiences with a focus on 8-12 year olds that explore issues of assimilation and identity by a remarkable collection of playwrights.

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