32nd Young Playwrights Festival

January 3-27, 2019 | Pegasus at Chicago Dramatists

The Young Playwrights Festival (YPF) celebrates the 32nd 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 over 500 submissions in 2018 with this year’s selections:

A GREEN LIGHT by Alexis Gaw: Patrick comes out to his best friend but discovers her casual homophobia. With the help of an online friend group, Patrick is able to honor his feelings.

FRAGILE LIMBS by Anonda Tyler: Faith, a teenage boy struggling with loss meets Hope, a teenage girl struggling with abuse and self-esteem. Together, they find strength against the backdrop of a violent Chicago.

GOOD STRONG COFFEE by Luna MacWilliams: In Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, siblings Violeta and Ernesto juggling their own dreams and desires while trying to keep the family coffee shop afloat.

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

Regular Performance Tickets: $18-30

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


About the Production Team

JOAN MAZZONELLI, director – A Green Light
Joan Mazzonelli has produced, directed, and designed original works in Chicago and New York City.  With Pegasus Theatre last season, she was the dramaturg on The Green Book.She has served in leadership roles with City Lit Theater, Griffin Theatre, Midwest New Musicals, Athenaeum Theatre, Theatre Building Chicago, On Stage Productions, Opera Shop at the Vineyard Theatre, and National Shakespeare Company. Her musical books include: Bottom’s Dream with James L. Kurtz, the adaptation for the stage of All in the Laundry by Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers NeighborhoodReasonable Terms with Karena Mendoza and Marianne Kallen, and High FidelityThe Proposal, Dorabella’s Daughters and The Passion of John with Philip Seward, as well as the co-adaptation of Border Crossing with Marianne Kallen.

JUAN RAMIREZ, director – Fragile Limbs
Juan Ramírez is a director, filmmaker and actor, who has been active in Film, Theater, and Television for over 40 years and was Executive/Artistic Director of PanAmerica Performance Works (formerly Latino Chicago Theater Company at The Firehouse) for over 30 years. Mr. Ramirez has produced and/or directed over 30 stage productions and 2 full-length feature films. His film ISRAEL IN EXILE (which he also wrote) was a Slamdance Film Festival Competition Selection that received additional screenings at festivals in Cuba, France, England, Spain, Mexico and across the United States. As an actor, Juan has been featured in over 50 films, television shows and stage plays, including a co-starring role on the ABC series Missing Persons (22 episodes) with Daniel Travanti. Other film/tv roles include  “Chain Reaction,” “ER,” “Sleeper Cell,” “Criminal Minds” and “Weeds.”

ILESA DUNCAN, director – Good Strong Coffee
ILesa Duncan is the executive/artistic director at Pegasus Theatre Chicago. Her recent directing work at Pegasus includes the Jeff-Recommended Eclipsed, the hit  Shakin the Mess Outta Misery (Jeff Nominated), the world premiere of Jeff-Recommended Rutherford’s Travels 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: Stoeez of A Darker Hue and facilitated the devised project Do You See What I’m Sayingfor Chameleon. Duncan will also assume the role of artistic director at Lifeline Theatre beginning in January 2019, and will remain Pegasus’ executive and producing director.

Production Staff
Scenic Design………………………. Nicolas Schwartz
Lights/Projections Design……… Josh Wroblewski
Sound Design……………………………. Steve Labedz
Costume Design………………………. Onyx Engobor
Props Design…………………….. Angelica Guttierez
Production Manager…………………..    Kelly Butler
Technical Director………………………. Nick Peebles
Master Electrician……………………….. Becs Bartle


Vincent Banks is a Chicago-based actor and graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. Vincent is a Gary, Indiana native where he began performing standup comedy, recording music, acting, and writing.  He balances his entertainment career with spiritual endeavors while also managing a small business, Thingamajicians’ Curio Coven. He is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Elaine C. Bell– Recent theatre credits include Eclipsed(US/Pegasus Theatre), Refrigerator (First Floor Theater), Frankenstein(Bower Theatre Ensemble) and Mavis; or a voyeurs comedy(The Residents). They have also worked with Sideshow Theatre Company, eta Creative Arts, LiveWire Chicago and Polarity Ensemble Theatre, just to name a few. www.elainecbell.com

Grace Bolander – Chicago credits include Secondhand Time (Trap Door Theatre); understudy for Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (First Floor Theatre); and Oresteia (workshop, First Floor Theatre). A director as well as an actor, Grace recently assisted Michael Patrick Thornton on Cosmologies (The Gift Theatre). A recent graduate of the University of Chicago, she is also the marketing director for The Passage Theatre. Grace thanks the many people she calls fam, biological and otherwise.

Juan Mares Castillo – Credits include: November (Habakkuk Theatre); Frankenstein(Cardinal Stage Company); and The Tempest (Indiana University Theatre). A Goshen, Indiana native, Juan received a B.A. from Indiana University. He is also a writer, and is extremely pleased to bring to life the works of young artists who tell the stories of a diverse range of people.

Marianna Gallegos– previous credits include: Extremities (Adobe Rose, Santa Fe NM), Hamlet (San Francisco Youth Theatre), and Vickie Weaver in the Paramount Network’s series WACO. A recent transplant from Albuquerque, YPF 32 marks Marianna’s Chicago debut. She recently directed Faustus Financial Managementat Otherworld Theatre’s Paragon Play Festival, and is currently studying improv at the Annoyance Theatre.

Sam Godinez a native of Los Angeles, Sam recently moved to Chicago. He has performed in many stage productions. In his free time he enjoy double-dutch and freestyle rapping.

Jamía Taylor – Recent credits include  American Revolution,Love and Information, The Surgeon and Her Daughters, We’re All Born Naked, and The Rest is Drag. Jamía has mastered 11 instruments, most of which were self-taught.  Hailing from suburban Maryland, Jamia received a BA in Theatre from Columbia College Chicago.

Kameron Villavicencio is an actor and playwright whose recent credits include Laramie Project, Fine Young Assholes, and Sawyer. She’s a graduate of Penn State University. She is honored to make her Chicago debut with YPF32.