If you have a passion for performing arts, it's easy to be pessimistic. Funding cuts, public apathy (or even hostility) and the decline of arts education are just a few factors that make the immediate future cloudy.
The annual Young Dramatists Project showcase is the perfect antidote for your gloom. Every year, Gorilla Theatre looks for the best short plays written by bay area high school students. Professional actors, directors and dramaturges bring the students' work to life.
There can be some rough spots, but more often than not, the works are impressively mature and well-written, and usually have a refreshing brashness.
Perhaps even more important, the showcase, slated for tonight through June 7, is a heartening reminder that there are some talented teenagers who have something to say and want to say it through theater, and that there are schools and teachers who are dedicated to nurturing their talent.
This year five plays made the cut: Gavrilo by Jonathan Van Gils from Shorecrest Prep, This One Night in the Warehouse by Sam French from the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, Sweet Nothings by Amanda Buck from Blake High School, Route 64 by Sierra Almengual from Shorecrest and Journey's End by Courtney Hunter from Bloomingdale High School.
Curtain is at 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 and 7 p.m., Sundays. Tickets are $20 for Thursday shows and $25 for others. Seniors and students get $5 off. Gorilla Theatre is at 4419 N Hubert Ave., Tampa. (813) 354-0550.
Marty Clear, Times correspondent