Jessica Juhrend (fourth from the left), Black Hills State University junior theatre major from Spearfish, is pictured with her cast and the director of her play Blood. Juhrend earned the opportunity to have her play produced in Hollywood, Calif. as a part of The Blank Theatre Company’s 17th Annual Nationwide Young Playwrights Contest. Her play was produced and debuted at The Young Playwrights Festival held in June. Cast members are back, left to right Karli Krueger, Matt Reidy (actor from NCIS), Micah Alberti (actor from Wildfire), Hallee Hirsh (actress from ER), Daniel Taylor, Meredith Monroe (actress from Dawson’s Creek), Dale Dickey (actress from My Name is Earl), Gene Garbriel (actor from Broadway’s Take Me Out). Director Kirsten Sanderson (Broadway’s Victor/Victoria) is pictured in front.

A play written by Black Hills State University student Jessica Juhrend was recently produced by a professional theatre company in Hollywood, Calif.

Juhrend, a junior theatre major from Spearfish, entered her play, entitled Blood, in The Blank Theatre Company’s 17th Annual Nationwide Young Playwrights Competition in March.
After weeks of work Juhrend said she stayed up all night the day before it was due to add some finishing touches and do some last minute editing. She realized her hard work had paid off when she received notice that she was chosen as one of the 12 finalists who would have their plays produced in Hollywood, Calif.

Blood is a dark comedy, murder mystery, drama. The plot follows the mystery of the main character’s mother’s murder investigation.

Before her trip to Hollywood, Juhrend worked with professional mentor and Emmy award winner Robert L. Freedman. They exchanged many emails and phone conversations to edit the play before it was produced.

Blood was originally 108 pages, but it had to be cut to just 60 pages because of the time constraints of the festival. Juhrend stated that “the actors and directors came in and treated us young playwrights as professionals and we formed friendships with each other.”

Juhrend spent two weeks in Hollywood rehearsing every day for three hours with cast members and director Kirsten Sanderson, who is best known for her work on Broadway. Seeing her play produced and performed “was an amazing experience.”

“You are not sure how the play is going to go until you see it” Juhrend said.

Juhrend can be seen as the lead role of Dorothy in BHSU’s Summer Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz July 17, 18, 23, 24, and 25 at 7:30 p.m. and July 19 and 26 at 2:30 p.m. She will also perform in the melodrama Dirty Work at the Crossroads showing July 30, 31 and August 1 at 7:30 p.m. and August 2 at 2:30 p.m. All performances will be held in the Woodburn Theatre on the BHSU campus.

For more information on The Blank Theatre Company’s Nationwide Young Playwrights Competition, visit youngplaywrights.com.