34th Young Playwrights Festival

January 7-31, 2021 | Streaming Virtually

The Young Playwrights Festival (YPF) celebrates the 34th year of inspiring Chicago students to explore their histories, research their communities and mine their personal journeys to write dynamic one-act plays for the stage. YPF is the only event of its kind in Chicago and is the second largest in the country.

The winning playwrights’ productions are work-shopped and professional produced with full casts and production teams. The competition received nearly 300 submissions in 2020 with this year’s selections:

A Lady’s Facade by Aisha Ziad, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools,
Teacher-Christine Himmelfarb | directed by Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke
After being fired, fine arts historian and curator Hayley tries to earn her job back when she uncovers a secret behind the Mona Lisa that could change history. 

Containment by Lincoln Gaw | Lane Tech College Prep, Teacher-
Brian Telles | directed by Alex Levy
In this satire, Ohio has invaded its neighboring states, spreading like a plague, and the Centers for Disease Control has dispatched armed rapid response teams to the Illinois border to try and contain the threat.

These Glass Lives by Jake Florell, Kenwood Academy, Teacher-Jon Nemeth |directed by ILesa Duncan
A panicked teen sneaks into a man’s home seeking refuge as police are actively pursuing a suspect. The two men discover the fragile nature of their connection.

ABOUT PEGASUS THEATRE CHICAGO
Pegasus Theatre Chicago has been a mainstay in the Chicago theater communityfor more than four decades. Its mission is to champion new, authentic voices and produce boldly imaginative theatre primarily by and about black, indigenous or other people of color (BIPOC). Home of the Young Playwrights Festival, the company promotes cultural equity while celebrating diversity, inclusion, and first voice. Pegasus is also committed to initiating important conversations through the arts with strong community engagement and socially relevant programming. Pegasus Theatre Chicago has received 77 Joseph Jefferson Awards since its inception.

Be sure to witness the amazing results of these writers professional debut and enjoy an evening of theater from tomorrow’s stars.

Virtual Performance Tickets: Adults: $20 |Students 22 & Under: $12

Student Matinee Tickets: teachers and school administrators should contact ypf@pegasustheatrechicago.org.

About the Production Team

RESHMI HAZRA RUSTEBAKKE (Director – A Lady’s Facade) is a multi-faceted film and theater maker who develops work as a creator, director, producer, storyteller and curator. She has her BFA from New York University, Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. During her time in New York, she received the Robert Moss Directing Fellow at Playwrights Horizons Theatre, as well as the Artist of Color Fellowship at New York Theatre Workshop. She works creatively developing new work, and also directing, producing, and production managing many varieties of shoots and plays. She has worked at The Vineyard, Playwrights Horizons Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, TimeLine Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Free Street, and many more. She is the co-director of critically acclaimed BRUJOS, and director for 8,000, FOBia, The Haven, Ethel and Agnes, Geeta’s Guide to Moving On, and several more projects in development. She is currently a regular Contributing Editor with The Everymom and has just completed her Pop Culture Collaborative Fellowship administered through OTV.

ALEX LEVY (Director – Containment) has directed several show for Pegasus including numerous productions of The Young Playwrights Festival. Alex is currently the Artistic Director of 1st Stage in Northern Virginia. Since joining, the company has won several awards including the American Theatre Wing’s National Theatre Company Grant and was named “One of America’s most impressive smaller theater companies” by The Wall Street Journal. In 2020, 1st Stage won five Helen Hayes Awards including “Outstanding Production.”  Alex is a three time Helen Hayes Award nominee for best director and his production of Lobby Hero was named best regional revival of 2016 by The Wall Street Journal.  Previously, Levy served as Artistic Director of Ballybeg Theatre in New York City and the managing director of The Watts Village Theater Company in Los Angeles.  In March 2017, his award-winning play Safe at Home was produced at Mixed Blood Theater at CHA Field, the home of the St. Paul Saints in St. Paul, Minnesota. Formerly artistic director at Pegasus, Mr. Levy holds an MFA in Directing from The University of California-Los Angeles.

ILESA DUNCAN (Director-These Glass Lives) is the executive/producing director at Pegasus Theatre Chicago. Her recent directing work at Pegasus includes Eclipsed (and Theatre on the Lake | Jeff Nominated), Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Jeff Nominated), the Green Book, Rutherford’s Travels (Jeff-Recommended) and For Her as a Piano.  Other recent credits include Neverwhereat Lifeline Theatre (Jeff-Recommended), Broken Fencesat 16th Street Theater, Jeff Award-nominated The Nativitywith Congo Square and the Jeff Award-winning Jar the Floorat ETA Creative Arts. Duncan has also worked with The Goodman, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Lifeline Theater, Stage Left and Chicago Dramatists, as well as Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio). The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington DC) and Lincoln Center Theater (New York). Duncan’s creative nonfiction short stories have been published (Columbia College Chicago) and she’s written poems and screenplays.  For the stage, she co-adapted Rutherford’s Travelsfrom the National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage, co-wrote and directed Blakk Love: Storeez of A Darker Hue and facilitated the devised project Do You See What I’m Saying for Chameleon. Duncan is the artistic director at Lifeline Theatre.

Production Staff
Directors……………………….Ilesa Duncan, Alex Levy, & Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke
Video Design………………………………………………………………. Rasean Davonte Johnson
Lighting…………………………………………………………………………………… Josh Wroblewski
Costume Design………………………………………………………………………………. Izumi Inaba
Sound Design………………………………………………………………………………… Steve Labedz
Props Design………………………………………………………………………………….. Jenny Pinson
Video Editor…………………………………………………………………………… Harrison Ornelas
Production Manager………………………………………………………….. Jennifer McClendon
Stage Manager……………………………………………………………………………Simran Sachdev
Casting Director,……………………………………………………………………….Andrés Enriquez

Artists

JOSH BERNASKI is very excited to be working with Pegasus Theatre for the first time!  Throughout the city, Josh has worked with Lifeline Theatre, Drury Lane, Theatre at the Center, First Folio, Akvavit Theatre, and The Shakespeare Project.  Outside of Chicago, Josh has performed at regional theatres across the country, and toured four years throughout South America and the Middle East performing with Artspot Educational Theatre.  Proud graduate of Temple University.  Founder of The Connecting Routes Project. Much love to his supportive family and friends. www.joshbernaski.com

JOHN DREA – YPF 34 marks John’s Pegasus debut. Chicago credits include Whose Body? (Lifeline), Free Space (Possibilities), Much Ado About Nothing (Goodly Creatures); New York: OneIronaut (Outer Loop). Film/TV work includes Ashley Green, Storm Stories, and The Shadows. He will be studying at the School at Steppenwolf in Summer 2021. All my love to my best pal, Jayde. John is represented by Big Mouth Talent.
GABRIEL FRIES is excited to be working with Pegasus Theatre for the first time! Favorite credits include It’s a Wonderful Life (Oil Lamp Theater), Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (Lifeline Theatre), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Metropolis PAC), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Adventure Stage), The CiviliTy of Albert Cashier (Permoveo Productions/PFP), Peter and the Starcatcher (E.D.G.E. Theatre), Do Re Mi (Porchlight Music Theatre), and The Kid Thing (Nothing Without a Company). Gabriel holds a BA from Wesleyan University. Thanks to Mom and Dad for always supporting my dreams! Gabriel is represented by BMG Talent. www.gabrielfries.net

NASTASCIA GUIMONT – Notable theatre company credits include: Guthrie Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, MN Fringe Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Seattle Shakespeare Company.  National commercials include Microsoft, Groupon, Lowe’s and Quicken Loans. She has played television roles on both GRIMM and CHICAGO MED. A graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a BA in Theatre, Nastacia is currently based in Chicago where she lives with her husband and rescue dog Shenzi.  She is a proud SAG-AFTRA member represented by Paonessa Talent.

JAMES LEWIS is excited to be participating in his first production with Pegasus Theatre! Was last seen in Haven’s Titus Andronicus and Brown Paper Box’s Grace or the art of climbing. Represented by DDO Artist Agency.

VICTOR MUSONI is ecstatic to be a part of the 34th Young Playwrights Festival. Chicago credits include La Havana Madrid (The Den Theater); Luck of the Irish, The Q Brother’s Rome Sweet Rome, Back The Night (UIC); Fun Harmless War Machine (The New Colony); No Child (Definition Theatre Company); Blood at the Root (Jackalope); Columbinus (Steppenwolf/The Yard); The Toilet (Haven Theatre) and How We Got On (Haven Theatre u/s). TV/Film credits include Chicago Med, 6×9. Web Series credits include Brujos. Music videos credits include Young Lost Love, Sinner. Endless love to Mom, Ama, and loved ones for holding it down always and forever. Victor is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.
VINITHRA RAJ grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and is delighted to be a part of this city’s thriving artistic community. On stage she has performed in various productions and readings for companies including Collaboraction, MPAACT, Corn Productions, and Rockwell Theatre Bandits. She is represented by Gray Talent Group and has appeared on television in Fox’s Empire and various commercials. She is so excited to be an ensemble member in this year’s unique, virtual Young Playwrights Festival!