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BU Alumna Jenny Rachel Weiner Receives National Student Playwriting Award


This weekend, when the prestigious American College Theatre Festival is presented at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, a contingent of faculty and students from the Boston University School of Theatre will turn out to celebrate playwright Jenny Rachel Weiner, whose play diventare was selected as the recipient of the National Student Playwriting Award from the annual festival.

Started in 1969, The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) serves as a catalyst to develop and produce a showcase of the finest and most diverse work being produced on college and university stages, in a theatre program involving 18,000 students from 600 colleges and universities across the United States. Regional festivals showcase the finest of each of eight geographic regions’ entered productions, adjudicated by a panel of three judges selected by The Kennedy Center and the KCACTF national committee. These judges, in consultation with the Artistic Director, then select four to six of the best and most diverse regional festival productions to be showcased in the spring at the annual noncompetitive national festival at The Kennedy Center.

Selected as one of just three plays to be presented at the national festival, diventare emerged from a field of 53 individual plays and musicals being considered for the national festival; those 53 plays and musicals were culled from a total of 526 productions that were considered nationwide for an invitation to the regional festivals.

“Diventare,” Italian for “to become,” tells the story of Linda, a young woman grieving the loss of her child who has died in a hurricane. Retreating to an underwater fantasy world, Linda first seeks to escape her grief. Then, when a hurricane once again approaches, she must choose to retreat further or face her fears and become a survivor. A personal story born out of Ms. Weiner’s grandmother’s loss of a child, the play’s narrative centers on the notion that traumas in families tend to pass from one generation to another until someone confronts and works through them. For information about The Kennedy Center performance of diventare, visit www.kennedy-center.org/education.

Ms. Weiner, a 2009 graduate of the Boston University School of Theatre, wrote and developed diventare under the auspices of the BU New Play Initiative, in a process that began in fall 2008 with a series of readings, followed by two productions, and a fully-mounted production at The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival regional festival in New Hampshire in January 2010. In March 2010, diventare was produced in New York City as part of Boston University’s InCite Arts Festival. Throughout the play’s evolution, Ms. Weiner has worked closely with its director Ellie Heyman, an MFA directing candidate in BU’s School of Theatre, to develop the work.

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