30th Young Playwrights Festival

Pegasus Theatre presented the annual Young Playwrights Production in January 2017.  This Festival of next-level student-written plays exploring “Assumptions,” kicked off the 30th Anniversary of the Young Playwrights Festival.  Featured plays included:


By Alexandra Obert – Directed by Juan Ramirez
A barista believes that he has met the woman of his dreams. Things take a nasty turn when he becomes obsessed with her.

Guarding the Princess

By Elyssa Saldana – Directed by Ilesa Duncan
Eadweard the Dragon overzealously guards his beloved princess from all potential suitors, whether a good match or not.

Eye See All

By Ricardo Salgado – Directed by Warner Crocker
Jessica, a paranoid conspiracy theorist, drags her brother into a plan to expose a secret society she believes is controlling the world.

Race to the Finish

By Sejahari Saulter-Villegas – Directed by Ilesa Duncan

Two heaven-bound beings, recent victims of police brutality in Chicago, compete in a game show in this play satirizing All Lives Matter.

The Young Playwrights Festival, the second oldest such festival in the United States, has for 30 years engaged and inspired high school students across Chicago by teaching them to craft one-act plays. Under the auspices of Pegasus Theatre Chicago, the winning teen playwrights’ productions are work-shopped and staged as part of its main stage season. The competition enhances language arts, encourages independent, high-level thinking, strong personal values and influences career development for Chicago’s teens.


YPF Winners Alex Obert, Ricardo Salgado, Elyssa Saldana and Sejahari Saulter-Villegas. Photo credit: Emily Schwartz

The competition received 600 submissions in 2016 with this year’s winners (listed with schools they attended at time of submission): Alexandra Obert of Lincoln Park High School and her play Obsessed; Elyssa Saldana of Whitney Young Magnet High School, Guarding the Princess; Ricardo Salgado of Lane Tech Academy, Eye See All and Sejahari Saulter-Villegas of Kenwood Academy, Race to the Finish.

Regular Performance Tickets: $18-30

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

All Performances at:
Chicago Dramatists
773 N. Aberdeen (Theatre Entrance)



Warner Crocker (Director, Eye See All) is pleased to return to Pegasus Theatre and the Young Playwright’s Festival, a project he participated in for a number of years before leaving Chicago to serve as the Artistic Director of Wayside Theatre in Virginia for 15 seasons. He has produced and directed more plays than he can count and is the author of several. He currently works in Chicago and regionally. Recent directing work includes Boing Boing, Barnum, The Seven-Percent Solution, and The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes, winner of the Jeff Award for Best Original Work.

Ilesa Duncan (Director, Guarding The Princess | RACE to the Finish) is Pegasus’ producing artistic director. Her recent directing includes the Jeff-recommended world premiere of Rutherford’s Travels (which she co-adapted from the National Book award winning Middle Passage), For Her As A Piano (Pegasus). Other credits include Broken Fences at 16th Street Theater (co-directed with Ann Filmer), The Nativity (Congo Square), Darlin’ (Step Up Productions) and Jar The Floor at ETA. Duncan has also worked with Goodman Theatre, 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). Ilesa’s creative nonfiction short stories have been published (Columbia College Chicago), and she’s written poems and screenplays. Ilesa is a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab, a NEA/TCG Directing Fellow, and an Associate Artist at Chicago Dramatists.

Juan Ramirez (Director, Obsessed) has been active in Film, Theater and Television for 35 years. As an actor, he has been featured in over 60 productions and was a series regular on ABC’s detective drama “Missing Persons.” As a director, Juan has written, directed and/or produced over 30 stage productions and 2 full length films. His first film, ISRAEL IN EXILE, was a 2002 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL COMPETITION SELECTION that has been screened in France, England, Spain, Cuba, Mexico and across the U.S. After a brief stretch in Los Angeles, Juan resettled in his native Chicago and became Executive Director of PanAmerica Performance Works, formerly Latino Chicago Theater Company at The Firehouse (a company which he co-founded). He also works with high school students at The Boys and Girls Club in South Lawndale through After School Matters; and the rest of his time developing potential film projects, and helping create community theater spaces.


Marissa Gil (Set Designer) Recent design includes Suessical for Big Noise Theater.  She currently works as Technical Director at Glenbard South High School, as well as a freelance Scenic Designer and Painter in Chicago. She is also a Stagehand at the Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin. Most recently she designed and supervised students in building Fiddler on the Roof at Glenbard South High School.

Sound | Resolutions (Sound/Projection Designers) is a Chicago based team comprised of artists Larry Nance and Deidre Searcy who seek to create audio and video experiences that engage, evoke and elevate.

Josh Wroblewski (Lighting Designer) is a freelance lighting designer while also working for the University of Chicago and Freeman Audio Visual. Josh obtained his MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and is excited to work with the talented team at Pegasus Theatre again. Past credits include Rutherford’s Travels and the 29th Young Playwrights Festival with Pegasus Theatre, Becky Shaw, A Summons from the Tinker…, and Foxfinder (Las Vegas Valley Award-Best Lighting 2015) among many others. Check out his work at www.jwlightingdesign.com R&D Choreography (Victor Bayona & Richard Gilbert) (Violence Design)R&D Choreography’s Victor Bayona and Rick Gilbert return to Pegasus after designing fights for Rutherford’s Travels.  R&D was founded in 1997 for the purpose of improving the power and effectiveness of Chicago theatre through the art of violence design – choreographing better fights for better shows!  R&D has designed violence for over three hundred productions and films, and taught stage combat at universities, colleges, and workshops. They have designed violence for dozens of Chicago theatres, including About Face, Akvavit, ATC, Bailiwick, First Folio, Griffin, Lifeline, Oak Park Festival, The Paramount, Piven, Steep, Theatre At The Center, Theo Ubique, Two Pence, and Vitalist.

Ross Matsuda (Assistant Director) Previous directing credits include Tweaked by Paul Shoulberg and Talk Radio by Eric Bogosian for the State Theatre of Chicago, along with assistant directing credits with Shakespeare Santa Cruz (King Lear) and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (The Clay Cart & Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter).

Kelly Butler (Production Manager) is a Chicago-based production and events manager. In addition to the 30th Young Playwrights Festival, recent credits include The Mars Assignment (Collaboraction), Cat in Heat (Nothing Special Productions) and Celestial Light Act I & II: Sun and Moon (Samantha Rausch) which debuted at Artscape 2016. In addition, Kelly has also worked in a variety of capacities with NewMoon Chicago, Chicago Humanities Festival, Redmoon, Step Up Productions, American Theater Company, and more.


Alex Brick – Recent credits include 1776 (American Eagle Productions), The Wizard of OZ (The Children’s Theater of Madison), The Pillowman (The Pump House), and Fiddler on the Roof (The Children’s Theater of Madison). Alex is a
recent Chicago transplant from Madison, WI. He earned his bachelors degree in theater and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin.

Alex Ireys was last seen in Filament Theater’s production of Van Gogh Cafe and Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park. He graduated Second City’s Conservatory program in the Summer and received his BFA in Acting from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kai Ealy – Since moving to Chicago, his credits include Fallen, an independent film by Mind in Motion Productions, and at ETA Migration (BTAA Award-winning production), and In De Beginnin’ by Oscar Brown, Jr. He attended Alabama State University under the tutelage of Tonea Stewart. Some of his Decatur, AL credits include; Hamlet, Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Our Town.

Nicole Laurenzi – Credits since arriving from the east coast include Marriott Lincolnshire and Goodman Theatre. She has performed on camera in Chicago PD and various online commercials. Regionally, Nicole’s credits include the Broadway National Tour of Mamma Mia! She is also a teaching artist at Chicago Children’s Theatre and a composer. Nicole is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. To listen to her music, visit Nicolelmusic.com.

Quenna Lené Barrett is a Chicago native whose recent credits include: Theatre Unspeakable’s Moon Shot and The American Revolution, Nikkole Salter’s Lines in the Dust at eta Creative Arts Foundation, and as understudy in Kristiana Colon’s Good Friday at Oracle Productions. New York credits include: The Vagina Monologues, The Wilde Thing, John Jesurun’s Red House, and Cabaret. Quenna is a member of the Illinois Caucus of Adolescent Health’s For Youth Inquiry performance company. She received her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Masters in Applied Theatre from the University of Southern California.

Ryan Smetana  Regional credits include: A Fabulous 50’s Christmas (Towle Theatre) Pericles, The Tempest (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival); and Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar (Lincoln-Way Summer Stock Theatre). Ryan is a recent graduate from the University of Illinois UrbanaChampaign where he received his BFA in acting.

Christina Ward – Some of her favorite roles include Olivia in Twelfth Night, Elizabeth I in Mary Stuart and Emilia in Othello. She is a recent graduate of Baylor University where she received a BFA in Theatre Performance.