26th Young Playwrights Festival

January 3–27, 2013

The 26th edition of Pegasus’ playwriting competition for high-school-age scribes in Chicago features four exciting new short works, hand-picked and showcased in a full production as part of Pegasus’ main stage season. The second oldest such festival in the country, this annual tradition regularly receives over 500 submissions from students throughout the area. From those, up to four winning playwrights are chosen to join with professional artists to workshop and stage their scripts.



The 26th production will showcase the plays written by 2012 winners:

2012 YPF WINNERS:     Stephanie Chavez – The Queen and Her Cliquedom – – Whitney Young High School – Teacher: Jim English Liza Farler – The Flood – Taft High School –Teacher: Quinton Nadig, Willa Sachs – Pinwheels – Lane Tech – Teacher: Kirsten Hanson , Daniel Swanson-Nystrom  – Quick and Go –  Northside College Prep – Teacher: John Hahm

Directors for The 26th Young Playwrights Festival include:  Ilesa Duncan, Edward Torres, and Anna Bahow.  The design team includes: Stephen H. Carmody (set), Denise Karczewski (lighting), Mieka Van Der Ploeg (costumes), Christopher Kriz (sound) and Jeff Shields (props). The ensemble cast includes Celeste Cooper, Derrick Cooper, Kristen Johnson, Kate Nawrocki, Peter Sipla, and Jordan Williams.

This program is partially supported by grants from the MacArthur Fund at Richard Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and CityArts III.


Celeste Cooper received her BA in Speech Communications & Theatre from Tennessee State University and most recently her MFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Her latest credits include: SEASCAPE (Remy Bumppo Theatre) and her original one woman show called THE LOVE?…OF POWER. (MPAACT).  She will be performing next in Goodman Theatre’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

Derrick C. Cooper is a graduate of the Theatre school at DePaul University. Some of his most recent theatre Credits include: THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER (Steppenwolf theatre),  A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (Merle Reskin), ZOOMAN AND THE SIGN, and TRANSFUSION (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts).

Kristen Johnson a West Texas native, Kristen graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota with a B.A. in Psychology and Theatre. She has trained at the School at Steppenwolf, NTI, and BADA. A fairly recent Chicago transplant, she has collaborated with such Chicago theatres as Lookingglass, Mary-Arrchie, Coriolis, Underscore, Framework, 20% Theatre, Redmoon, and Collaboraction. Kristen is incredibly excited to work with Pegasus Players and wants to give a special thanks to her friends and family for all their love and support. You can next see Kristen in an upcoming work for House Shows Theatre.

Kate Nawrocki has performed with several companies in Chicago including The Griffin (ANGUS THONGS & FULL FRONTAL SNOGGING, NE Jeff Award for Principal Actress & Ensemble), Lifeline, Caffeine (UNDER MILK WOOD, NE Jeff Nom for Ensemble), Collaboraction, and The Plagiarists. Kate is a company member and Associate Artistic Director with The Strange Tree Group, where she most recently originated the roles of Cora Crippen in THE THREE FACES OF DR. CRIPPEN (NE Jeff Nom for ensemble, NE Jeff win for New Work) and Jane in THE SPIRIT PLAY. She has also designed several shows for STG including the Jeff nominated set for 2009′s THE DASTARDLY FICUS, as well as THE THREE FACES OF DR. CRIPPEN, THE ONE ABOUT THE WHALE (Sketchbook X) and GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD.

Peter Sipla was most recently seen as Bobby in Brightside Theatre’s COMPANY, and earlier this year in Red Tape Theatre’s ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD.  Other Chicago area credits include: MAPLE AND VINE (Next Theatre), TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT (Writers’ Theatre), YEAR ZERO (Victory Gardens Theater), PASSION (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), THE CRUCIBLE (Guest Artist at NCC), and work with Fox Valley Rep, Porchlight Music Theatre, First Folio Theatre, Collaboraction, Steel Beam Theatre, and regionally at Cardinal Stage Company.  Peter can be heard in numerous commercials and voice-overs.  He is a proud North Central College alum.

Jordan Williams is a graduate of Western Washington University, and has professionally acted in Seattle.  He has most recently returned from the Caribbean Islands, finishing up a 16-month tour with Missoula Children’s Theatre and continues to teach theatre in Chicago.  Favorite stage roles include Dan in CLOSER, Marlow in SHE STOOPS TO CONQUOR, and Coneybear in SPELLING BEE.

Anna C. Bahow (Director, THE FLOOD), committed to the development of new work, Anna is an Associate Artist at the side project, Premiere Theatre and Performance and Chicago Dramatists. She served as the 2011-2012 Michael Maggio Directing Fellow at Goodman Theatre, has received an After Dark Award for direction and her productions have received JEFF Awards for New Work and Use of Multi-Media. Upcoming: THE EXTINCTION PROJECT at Rhino Fest in January and February, BREWED with Ruckus and Tympanic Theatres in March, COMRADES MINE at City Lit in April and INVASION! with Silk Road Rising this summer.  For more information go to AnnaBahow.com

Ilesa Duncan (Director, the queen & her Cliquedom/Quick & Go) recently directed the acclaimed productions of THE NATIVITY for Congo Square Theatre (2011 and 2012).  In addition to the last several festival productions, her recent directing work includes IN THE CONTINUUM, THE GIMMICK and SHAPE OF A GIRL (Pegasus), BLUE SHADOW (Lifeline Theatre), HOPE SIX (Chicago Dramatists) and CROWNS for the Contemporary American Theater Company in Columbus Ohio.  Next up will be JAR THE FLOOR (ETA) and Dana Lynn Formby’s IF YOU SPLIT A SECOND. Some favorites include the Jeff award-winning comedy LOVE CHILD  (Theater on the Lake, Chicago Theater Co., and Live Bait Theater), SHAKIN’ THE MESS OUTTA MISERY, (CTC), WAITING TO BE INVITED (Victory Gardens), SARAFINA (Fleetwood Jourdain at Next Theatre), A RAISIN IN THE SUN (CATCO), F**KING A (Theatre School at DePaul), and RED RAIN at Lincoln Center Theatre/HERE in New York. Other direction at Pegasus includes Jeff Award nominated TICK, TICK BOOM, BREATH BOOM, EV’RY TIME I FEEL THE SPIRIT, and seven Young Playwrights Festivals (2005-2011). Ilesa is Pegasus’ Producing Artistic Director, a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab, and a NEA/TCG Directing Fellow.  She is also Associate Artist with PanAmerica Performance Works (formerly Latino Chicago) and Chicago Dramatists.

Edward Torres (Director, PINWHEELS) most recently directed FISH MEN at the Goodman Theatre. He directed the world premiere of Kristoffer Diaz’s THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY at Victory Gardens Theater (produced in association with Teatro Vista) which was named Best Play of 2009 by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Time Out Chicago, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and earned Jeff awards for Best Production and Best Director. He also directed subsequent productions off Broadway at New York’s Second Stage Theatre (2010 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play and Obie Award for Best Play), and at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles to critical acclaim. Mr. Torres produced more than 25 plays during his tenure as the artistic director of Teatro Vista.