Candles is Philadelphia Young Playwrights‘ first Barrymore-eligible production. It is also PYP’s first full-length, fully self-produced play. It is not, however, 10th-grader Angelina DeMonte‘s first play. She wrote that back in the eighth grade.
DeMonte, a student at Harriton High School, was inspired by the experience and advocacy of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the 2018 school shooting, and wrote Candles to explore the varying effects of trauma on young people under similar circumstances.
DeMonte’s protagonists are three students in the school newspaper club at a Philadelphia-area school high school whose lives are impacted when the school comes under attack by an armed student. The production integrates poetry, spoken word, and music in order to allow its young people to authentically grieve, process and speak out.
And, through DeMonte’s words, to advocate for themselves. After all, one of the realities the sestudents and young actors live with is that in the 2018-2019 academic year, there were more than 100 reported threats against schools per month in Pennsylvania.
According to the release issued by PYP, “DeMonte started writing plays in eighth grade through Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ in-school program. Her first play, Say Who Are You That Mumbles In The Dark, was selected among over 700 entries for Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ New Voices Festival and was performed at Temple University in October 2018. It was during this production that she first realized she could channel her passion for speaking out against gun violence through her playwriting.”
“I created characters who are journalists, because as a writer, I understand how writers think — the ability and the drive to pick something apart in order to figure it out, to look deeper into questions that some people may be too scared to ask,” DeMonte said via the release.
Candles premiered last night at the Arden Theatre’s Hamilton Family Arts Center at 62 N. 2nd Street. There are performances tonight and tomorrow (January 17 and 18) at 7 p.m., as well as on January 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $15 for all shows, and can be purchased here.
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Directed by Bi Jean Ngo, this production of Candles is 90 minutes long and features performances by Ang Bey, Danielle Coates, Owen Corey, Tyler S. Elliott, and Yannick Haynes.
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