Winners of CoHo Productions’ 2012 New by Northwest playwriting competition will get Fertile Ground readings

The winning entries of CoHo’s 2012 New by Northwest Playwriting Competition, now in its fifth year, will feature in two Fertile Ground readings this year.

EXIT 27 by Aleks Merilo and THE CANDLESTICK MAKER by Emily Golden (student) will be presented in a series of two back-to-back staged readings at the CoHo Theatre on Sunday, January 27th and Saturday, February 2nd.

Based on real events, EXIT 27 is set in the isolated desert near Colorado City, a town on the Utah-Arizona border and the cradle of Fundamentalist Mormonism. Colorado City is an extreme polygamist society where a man’s status is determined by the number of his wives and an on-going surplus of young men in the community threatens this power structure. In recent years, the religious leaders of Colorado City have arbitrarily exiled hundreds of teens to fend for themselves in the outlying desert, thereby creating a population known as “The Lost Boys of Utah”.

Ryker, Dodge and Shyler are three such boys who desperately fight for survival in an outside world they have been taught their whole lives is unspeakably dangerous. Foraging for food or finding medical help is a life or death situation and the boys cling to the faint hope that they will someday be welcomed home, despite their “sins”. When new boy Brodie appears in the desert, he is welcomed at first but his willingness to interact with a teenage girl from the Outsider group is at odds with Ryker’s plan to win the boys’ way back home. A product of his upbringing, Ryker contemplates an ultimate evil in order to be considered “good” once again. EXIT 27 is a sobering cautionary tale.

Playwright Aleks Merilo wrote EXIT 27 based on interviews he conducted with “The Lost Boys of Utah” while employed at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. His BLUR IN THE REAR VIEW won the James Rodgers Playwriting Contest in Lexington, KY and is scheduled to be produced this March by the Fly-By-Night Theatre in North Carolina. New York’s Love Creek Productions is scheduled to produce his script of THE WIDOW OF TOM’S HILL, based on a dark chapter of Pacific Northwest history, this January. Most recently, his play LITTLE MOSCOW was produced at the Idiom Theatre in Bellingham, WA. Aleks holds a BA in Theatre and an MFA in Playwriting from UCLA. He is a full-time drama teacher living in Portland, OR.

THE CANDLESTICK MAKER is a story about trust, memory and, above all, greed. Forty years after the tremendous worldwide success of her only novel, Mrs. Mills sets out to write a second. She tells the story of Alice, a former student with whom her life was irrevocably bound. As Alice struggles to come to terms with her mother’s new boyfriend and Mrs. Mills with her disintegrating health, they turn to one another for support.

Playwright Emily Golden is a senior at Willamette University, majoring in English and Theatre. A Seattle native, Emily has worked onstage and behind the scenes in a number of theatres across the Northwest, including Seattle Children’s Theatre and Seattle Public Theatre. She has previously had plays performed in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, including THE E-WORDS and STAR-CROSSED, two short plays commissioned for The Theatre Company of Lafayette. In 2011, her play MACHINE GUN KATHRYN was published by Heuer Publishing. Last summer, Emily was an intern at The Berkshire Playwrights Lab in Great Barrington, MA where she helped to workshop several new plays culminating in staged readings.

Both plays will be directed by Debbie Lamedman.