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May 26, 27, 28 and 29 at 7 p.m.

A response to the tragic events of Sept. 11, "Tomorrow's Promise'' is a student-writing, playwrighting project that would not be possible without a generous grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, headquartered in Morristown.

The project began in late fall when the theater announced that it was collecting writing samples from students around the state and would eventually be selecting six high school students to write short plays exploring themes related to Sept. 11.

As the writing samples began to arrive at the theater, three things became very clear. The first is that New Jersey's high school students are deeply affected by the disturbing and ongoing world events. Also, many of these students have powerful insights and stories to share. And, finally, the state boasts many, very talented and articulate young writers.

After reading the writing samples, Tomorrow's Promise Project Administrator Kathleen Goldpaugh scheduled more than 20 young writers to come to the theater and meet with the project committee. Here students discussed their writing, world events and their reasons for wanting to participate with the project's interview committee, which consisted of Mentor Playwright Michael T. Folie, Director/Actor Jim Donovan, Project Facilitator Aaron Vieira, NJ Rep Assistant Artistic Director Stewart Fisher, NJ Rep Executive Producer Gabor Barabas and Goldpaugh.

After the interviews, Goldpaugh said each of the finalists was so impressive that the team could have randomly picked any six of the students and been confident the project was well on its way. Instead, the committee spent hours comparing notes before they chose the six young playwrights.

The selected writers are Daniel Adler of Marlboro, Shennell Barnes of Newark, Karen Berkowitz of Little Silver, Tom Bruett of Manasquan, Aileen Deng of Marlboro, and Matthew Hirsch of Marlboro. Two alternates were also selected; they are Christine Grimaldi of Marlboro and Meera Patel of Little Silver.

The six teens meet with Folie and other project staff from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each Saturday for 13 weeks in a writer's workshop. Here each student will develop a 10-minute theatrical piece or short play, and the collection of six plays will be performed together under the umbrella title, "Tomorrow's Promise.''

The students will be given artistic freedom to approach the broad topic from any angle, and their topics can range from prejudice and hatred to the hopes and dreams that hinge upon tomorrow's promise.

Once the plays are created, NJ Rep company member Donovan will begin to direct the pieces, which will be performed by company members Susan Kerner, Eric Walton, and Kittson O'Neill, and possibly others on the project team.

In its performance stage, the mission moves into its more expansive and inclusive portion. NJ Rep anticipates drawing a multi-generational group of students, teachers and parents to witness this theatrical event. And, after each performance theater professionals will facilitate forums that will have a town-meeting feel.