NEW YORK – A sophomore from New York University has emerged from a frazzling and frenzied two-day playwriting boot camp to win a shot at penning a short play for Broadway.
Devin Mojica, a 19-year-old New Yorker who is working toward a drama major at Tisch School of the Arts, on Monday beat out five other alumni of the Urban Arts Partnership writing programs to get the chance to write one of the six short pieces that will be performed as part of the "The 24 Hour Plays" next month by a host of celebrities including Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Gina Gershon and Zachary Levi.
All six student candidates had just six hours Monday afternoon at the Partnership's offices downtown to each write a 3-minute, 3-person play that was then performed that night before industry professionals and a panel of judges. Some of the actors who pitched in to perform included Frankie Fiason, Rachel Dratch and Eddie Kaye Thomas.
Mojica, who won with his play "Naughty List," a comedy set in an anger management class, next will be mentored by a master playwright and be ready to write another short play during a marathon writing and creating session Nov. 17-18 at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre.
"It's pretty crazy," Mojica said in a phone interview. "Now it's going to be 700 audience members watching. It's a little bit different." He said being in the fire of creativity was the best part of the process and wants to do that wherever his career takes him.
"Creating art is so much more important that the paycheck, although I would like to stress that I'd love the paycheck," he said. "The fact that we can all fit in a room and come up with these great works of art is the best thing. There's nothing like it in the world."
That contest puts Mojica's work alongside five other short plays by the likes of David Lindsay-Abaire, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Lynn Nottage, Theresa Rebeck and Rachel Axler. The stars expected to act in their works will be Jamie Chung, David Cross, Fisher Stevens, Natalie Dormer, Rachel Dratch, Gaby Hoffman, Zosia Mamet, Rosie Perez, Julia Stiles and Amber Tamblyn, among others.
Next month, the pressure will be on as the playwrights gather at 10 p.m. on Nov. 17 and must pen a 10-minute play by 7 a.m. the next morning. The celebrity actors will then rehearse the work for the next 12 hours. At 8 p.m. on Nov. 18, the plays will be performed for a live audience.
Mojica is undaunted. "Maybe it's because I'm in college, but I think the best writing happens between 12 and 6 a.m.," he said, with a laugh. "I don't actually start homework after 12 a.m."
The one-night-only show benefits the Urban Arts Partnership, an organization that brings arts education into New York City classrooms. The 24-Hour play project is backed by German luxury penmaker Montblanc, which has helped fund the project for several years, as well as the Montblanc Young Writers Program.
Mojica thanked both Montblanc and the Urban Arts Partnership for being the rare groups not taking away the arts from students. "I am so thankful and so blessed," he said.
"Young people attending underserved New York City public schools get the short end of the stick when it comes to the arts, and thanks to our supporters we are giving them a fighting chance," said Philip Courtney, CEO of Urban Arts Partnership.
Mark Kennedy can be reached at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits