CMU School of Drama

Friday, April 07, 2017

Award-winning playwright, 17, shines spotlight on marginalized people

Breaking Character: Phanesia Pharel is just 17 and already has won some of the biggest awards for playwriting.

She was a first-place playwright at the Florida State Festival; a first-place playwright at the Miami District Festival — twice; and the youngest playwright to be placed in the Best of the Best showcase at Micro Theater for her play “Shovel Me Away.”

She said her mother is a writer, too, and that literature has always been in her life.


Simone Schneeberg said...

The last quote from Phanesia Pharel is really powerful: "I feel that I can build a better world in my writing and that I can challenge the one we live in.” I believe that the arts are a really important way to fight back against the atrocities of this world, because they act and they challenge but they educate as well. They present a medium to not only point out flaws and bad situations but to present those situations to audiences to be disgusted and give room for the audience to form their own conclusions from material presented. I feel the arts give the best room within activism for conversation, and through conversation we can not only challenge as this young playwright says, but also build a better world. We can talk, we can listen, and we can grow. Plays provide on of the best entries into this because they truly make you listen, you have to sit there in silence and watch and digest what is placed before you. You cannot just walk away if you begin to not like what is being presented.

Marisa Rinchiuso said...

What I loved most about this article was that she bridged a huge gap. That is an enormous task for anyone, even more so for a 17 year old. Her positive attitude and support for not only the arts, but the STEAM program gives her an incredible sense of inclusion. I thought it was wonderful that she continued writing new work even after her previous work had been popularized. Being able to speak out against prejudice and injustice through the world is a powerful thing. I think theatre can be a great medium for discussion because often it is not an argumentative setting. Being able to watch a story unfold and seeing for yourself what the experience of other people is has a way to change your mind. This passive form of communication can have an incredible impact on your outlook. I am incredibly inspired by the work of this amazing young woman.