The Dorset Theater Festival announces the winners of the 8th Annual Jean E. Miller Young Playwright Competition, a summer reading adventure club for young people


DORSET, Vermont (June 7, 2021) – The Dorset Theater Festival will welcome its 43rd summer season with two celebrations designed for local youth and their families.

First, the community is invited to join in celebrating the winners of this year’s 8th Annual Jean E. Miller Young Playwrights Competition with a free online ceremony including a digital presentation of the winning pieces, led by the Teaching Artist of this year, Heidi Armbruster, Friday. , June 11 at 4 p.m. To register for this fun event, go to

An annual collaboration between the Dorset Theater Festival and regional schools, the Dorset Theater Festival’s Young Playwrights program offers students in regional middle and high schools the opportunity to learn drama and create their own plays. This year, the award-winning program has seen tremendous growth online, with more than 70 entries into the competition this spring. A panel of professional playwrights and theater artists from across the country read the plays, provided commentary and selected the winning submissions in the middle and high school categories.

The winning plays for this year’s Young Playwright Competition are: Covid Couples Therapy by Orion Masterson, Annika Shiman and Ely White, 8th grade students at Marlboro School (Ani Shaeffer, teacher); Decisions, a monologue by Leon Bell, 10th grade student at Long Trail School (Anna Bean, teacher); The Destiny of Fate by Lily Hutcheson, 9th grader at Burr and Burton Academy (Jim Raposa, teacher); Inner Anxiety, a monologue by Christian Stridsberg, senior at U32 (Erin Galligan-Baldwin, teacher); Unspeakable by Ezra Blakenbaker, an elder at Long Trail School (Luke Krueger, teacher); Deductions by Anneka K. Yuengling Grade 9 student at Woodstock Union High School (Michelle Fountain, teacher); and Rusty and Alabama by Cameron Burdick, 6th grade student at Brownington Central School (Skye Devarney, teacher). Honorable mentions include: Michael de Logan Bushway, 7th grade student at VTVLC (Edith Ainsley, teacher); Quantum Mech-Antics by Arlington Memorial High School student Noah Diedrich (Gayna Cross, teacher); and Rhythm City by Fraiser Bergman and Eliza Mikheez, 6th grade students at Maple Street School (Conor Welch, teacher).

Teaching artist Heidi Armbruster said bringing young playwrights online due to COVID-19 restrictions has broadened the scope of the program. “Now this Vermont tradition is available to both more Vermont schools, as well as students and teachers across the country,” Armbruster said. Students from Wisconsin, North Carolina and New Jersey participated in the 2021 program.

The festival is also delighted, in collaboration with Northshire Bookstore and Southern Vermont Arts Center, to welcome all local youth to the free Flight of the Puffin summer reading adventure club, featuring the author of books for award-winning children of Vermont, Ann Braden.

“We are delighted to reunite children from all over the region after a long and difficult year on Zoom. Young people in our area will join 30,000 readers from coast to coast who have been inspired by the Ann Braden story, which takes place in Vermont and written in a way that speaks through the generations. ”Said Dina Janis, artistic director.

Registration for the free four-week Summer Reading Adventure Club includes a launch event with the author on Friday, June 18 at 3 p.m. at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. The Northshire Bookstore will be available with copies for sale and personalization by the author, although purchase is not necessary as local libraries will also have copies of the book on hand. Attendees will also receive a packet of “Puffins Unite” postcards and starter address kit, links to aloud videos from the Flight of the Puffin chapter by author Ann Braden, as well as discussion ideas and activities to do with friends and family. The Summer Reading Adventure Club will conclude with a celebratory event on Friday, July 16 at 3 p.m. at SVAC, with a return visit from Braden, where attendees can share puffin stories and receive a special treat donated by Mother Myrick’s Confectionery at Manchester. You can find more information and registration information on

Flight of the Puffin tells the story of a small act of kindness that connects four children in this touching novel from the author of the beloved The Perks of Being an Octopus, adapted by a recent commission from the new game. of the Dorset Theater Festival. by playwright Cusi Cram. This mid-level novel introduces readers to Libby, who comes from a long line of bullies. She wants to be different, but sometimes it doesn’t work. To strengthen herself, she makes a card with the message You are amazing. This card sets off a chain reaction that ends up making a difference in the lives of some children who might also need a boost, whether it’s dealing with bullies, denying acceptance from families, or leaving behind. mourning. Receiving a message of encouragement helps each child find what they need most, whether it is bravery, empathy, or understanding. Because it helps them realize that they matter and don’t fly solo anymore.

Ann Braden writes books about children who try to defend themselves even when life is difficult. Her most recent mid-level novel Flight of the Puffin has garnered read aloud from coast to coast with over 30,000 readers in over 700 locations nationwide. Her first novel The Benefits of Being an Octopus was named one of NPR’s best books in 2018 and has appeared on more than a dozen state lists. Ann founded the Local Love Brigade, which sends love postcards to those who face hate. Previously a college teacher, Ann lives in southern Vermont with her husband, two children and two insatiable cats.


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