Monday, September 27, 2010

VSAPlawright Discovery Program Engages Youth in Creative Expression

Each Year VSA Arts International produces a one-act play created by a promising theatrical artist. The Marionette Effect by Laura Hogikyan, is this year’s selection; to be presented at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts September 30 and October 1st. The play tells the story of a 15 year old, musically gifted teen forced to grapple with the realities of disability after experiencing a stroke.

It is a message of growth and healing.

Ever focusing on the positive and reaching for that which we would dare to dream we believe--that none is alone in their effort—those with disabilities know this path well, although there are many of us doing the same reaching, regardless of “abilities.”

In these efforts I do see hands stretched out in aid and understanding of what challenges the disabled individual may face in their expression of these dreams.

Personally I have been challenged as a musician. I have a great comprehension of musical theory but my exercise in sight reading has held me back in my early studies. The university I was attending at the time had an aid department that did all they could to assist me at the time. But of course, my own stubbornness and critical ear, interfered with my endeavors as well. 
I spent many hours maddening myself trying to memorize Tchaikovsky.

Now there is technology available that assists me in my creative process. The availability of this technology, though, is not an easy process if you do not have cash in hand and time to spend researching and implementing that technology. Watching my children in school I see the cuts in the government funding in all extracurricular activities. This affects the arts to the greatest degree.

When I was in school every child had some sort of artistic program daily, but this has changed. These changes lead me to question where would be if I were just beginning my foray into the arts? Who would be there to help? It used to be public schools. We now look to other organizations for this, and opportunities do exist. A friend has recently pointed me to one of these groups of interest:

Spending much time in researching these types of entities I find the site to be rich with current and pertinent information on the expression and creative process for the disabled artist and those whose lives they touch. To my delight I was informed about VSA through my friend's press request specifically announcing the winner of their playwright award and the celebration of that award with a viewing of her play. My joy is the subject of her play, one that touches me quite closely.
VSA's press release follows:

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) September 7, 2010―VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2010 Playwright Discovery Award, The Marionette Effect by Laura Hogikyan (pictured above) of Superior Township, Michigan. This original dramatic work tells the story of a teenager whose musical career is derailed after she experiences a stroke at the age of 15. VSA will present this compelling one-act play as part of the VSA Playwright Discovery Evening at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, September 30 and October 1, 2010, at 7:30 p.m.

The VSAPlaywright Discovery Program is an annual competition that invites middle and high school students to take a closer look at the world around them, examine how disability affects their lives and the lives of others, and express their views through the art of playwriting. Hogikyan, 17, recently graduated from Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and will attend Harvard University this fall. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including the grand prize in the 2006 Michigan Young Playwrights Festival and two honorable mentions in the 2009 Nancy Thorpe National Poetry Contest. Her work has been published in the University of Michigan’s Armistice Magazine and in the Iowa Young Writers Anthology, and she has served as a student theater reviewer for

In addition to The Marionette Effect, the VSA Playwright Discovery Evening will feature a performance of Jack From Above, a one-man show about and starring Jack Hofsiss. For more than 20 years, VSA’s Playwright Discovery Artists Selection Committee has been chaired by Hofsiss, a Best Director Tony Award winner (The Elephant Man, 1979). With humor and pathos, Jack From Above chronicles Hofsiss’ experiences after a diving accident in 1985. The above image pictures Ethan Silverman, playwright and director, and Jack Hofsiss (photo credit: Photo Morgan McGivern/The East Hampton Star).
“We are very excited to present the work of an artist well-established in the theater world along with the work of a playwright just beginning her career,” commented Soula Antoniou, president of VSA. “That’s what VSA is all about: celebrating the achievements of artists already in the field and creating opportunities for the next generation.”

Tickets to this special double bill event are free with reservations. To make your reservation, please e-mail VSA’s Artist Services Coordinator at Include the number of tickets requested, the name under which the tickets should be held at the will call table, and any accessibility requests. More information may be found online at

It is encouraging to report on the event above and VSA itself. Promoting creativity and expression to every person and celebrating the individual is one of the marks of a civil society, a kind of people that I am proud to be among. The specific event noted above is in Washington, D.C. The site has great information for everyone and the organization is international and is a great resource no matter your location.

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