Philip Anastassiou is a junior at the Bergen County Academies (BCA) in the theatre program of the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. In addition to the New Jersey Young Playwrights Competition, this 17-year-old award-winning playwright and actor saw his plays recognized on both a state and national level in three writing competitions in 2013, including the Scholastic Art and Writing Award (2 national and 6 regional awards), the NJ Theater Project’s 11th Annual Young Playwrights Competition, and the Blank Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights Festival in Los Angeles. Influenced and inspired by the absurdist plays of Samuel Beckett and Edward Albee, Philip’s work is marked by a sense of magic realism and dark comedy.
In April 2013, he won Best Leading Actor Award in a drama for the titular role in The Madness of George III, by Montclair University. He was also cast as Tommy Albright in the Lerner and Loewe’s musical Brigadoon at BCA. As a freshman, he was nominated for best leading actor in a comedy by Montclair University for his performance as Berowne in the award-winning BCA production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Philip greatly admires the classics and in the summer of 2012, he studied Shakespeare’s work and explored acting techniques at Wadham College in Oxford University with the British American Drama Academy. He is looking forward to continue his studies this summer at Northwestern University’s Cherubs Program in Theatre Arts.
He is the co-artistic director of BCA’s only student-run theatre company, Studio 216. In October 2012, he produced and performed in the company’s staged reading of Dustin Lance Black’s play 8 on marriage equality. The production received official commemorations from then Congressman Steven Rothman, NJ State Senator Loretta Weinberg, NJ Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, and NJ Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the International Thespian Society, and the Tri-M International Music Honors Society.
Kelsey Garrett, 17, is a junior at Middletown High School South. Kelsey has always loved reading, writing, and performing. She first took dance and musical theater classes at 9 years old and has continued to be involved in the theater every opportunity that she gets. Some of Kelsey’s first performances with Footlights Musical Theater Company included Annie, High School Musical, and Beauty and the Beast. Over the last 3 years at Middletown H.S. South, Kelsey has enjoyed performing with Southside Theater in Rimers of Eldritch, Bye Bye Birdie, and Cabaret. In addition, she has written and performed with South’s Theatre Arts Club’s One-Page Play Festivals and Ten-Minute Play Festivals. Kelsey has also volunteered backstage and in the house at the First Avenue Playhouse in Atlantic Highlands.
Kelsey enjoys working with South’s Peer Leadership Program and Gay-Straight Alliance. She is also a member of Bottlecappers, a program which teaches the community’s children about the dangers of drugs and fosters positive leadership skills.
Kelsey has been Co-President of her church’s youth group, Saints by the Sea, for two years. Last fall, Kelsey was very involved in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts including organizing and distributing donations to some of our state’s most devastated towns. Recently, Kelsey was awarded the St. Timothy Award from the Diocese of Trenton, recognizing outstanding service in parish youth ministry.
Kelsey is extremely grateful that she’s been given an opportunity to use her writing to explore issues which are often difficult to confront. She wishes to sincerely thank Mr. Kozak, Mr. Koumoulis, Miss Mazza, Mr. McKenzie, Jim Murphy, and Deacon Johnson for their encouragement. Kelsey is also grateful for the support of her parents, family, and friends.
Emma Iacometta is currently a junior at the Bergen County Academies within the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts-Theatre Concentration. Along with acting, dance, and playwriting classes, Emma plans to pursue a career in Stage Management. Recent production stage manager credits include South Pacific (pre-production, SummerStage at Leonia), The Declaration (Fully Flighted Productions), The 39 Steps (Nutley Little Theatre), The King and I (Bergen County Academies), and A Civil War Christmas (Bergen County Academies). This past winter, Emma assistant directed Brigadoon (Bergen County Academies), for which she is nominated for Paper Mill Playhouse's Student Achievement Award. Thank you to mom, the spark that inspired this play.
Philip Peker, 17, is a Junior at Livingston High School, in Livingston, NJ. He just recently opened up the doors of the writing world, and quickly received several awards in a handful of genres: personal memoir, persuasive writing, poetry, journalism, and dramatic script. Philip is never shy of experimenting whether it is in writing, reading or music, which is his other central passion in life. As a classically trained guitarist, Philip has delved into many genres, including jazz, rock, fusion, gypsy, and acoustic over his 12 years of studying the guitar. He loves a great jam, and has had some with several jazz greats over the years. Philip also loves to compose music, and he and his buddies have a band, called Castles, in which they share their musical creations between themselves, and the world. Not a day goes by without Philip creating a new song, new lick, or new musical idea.
Above all else, Philip Peker is an explorer. Whether he is exploring new sounds, new literature, new intellectual passions, new places, or making new friends, Philip is always thirsty for more living, more experiencing, and more doing. He has an unbounded thirst for knowledge, whether it is learning about Ancient Greek warfare tactics or engaging in debates on the merits of Keynesian vs. Austrian economic theories.