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      PenStroke Press is a student publishing venture that was initiated at Rochester High School in September of 1997 through a grant from the Randolph Reigonal School-to-work Consortium, with additional funding from the Vermont Arts Council Partners-in-Education grant. The press is a partnership project between Rochester High School and two professional publishing companies in Rochester, Vermont--Inner Traditions International and Schenkman Books. All the production and editorial functions of PenStroke Press are carried out by students under the supervision of professional editors, designers, and production personnel from these two companies, as well as under the journalism faculty at Rochester High School.

     The purpose of PenStroke Press is two-fold: to prepare high school students with the skills and the working knowlege of all phases of book production, from acquisition to distribution, and to produce products of professional quality that will have regional and hopefully national market appeal.

Recent Titles

Midwives  •  Mad River Rising  •  Blasts From The Future  • 

   The Big Random
    by Dana Yeaton    96pp 2003, ISBN 0-9669177-4-X
    Dana Yeaton’s comic drama The Big Random tells the story of two American misfits on the run. Claire is about to turn sixteen in the psych ward of a Boston hospital, when she is smuggled out by Roland, a middle-aged man who claims to be her godfather. Together they head north, deep into Quebec, on an escapade that threatens to land them in jail or the grave, or perhaps back to the road to hapiness.

“Yeaton is too sharp a writer to proselytize, but he is comfortable giving us some sins and some miracles to contemplate . . . . Like many well-crafted relationship dramas, The Big Random empathizes with everybody.”
Seven Days

    by Dana Yeaton    176pp 1998, ISBN 0-9669177-3-1
    As the midwife in a remote New England county, Sibyl Danforth has an almost saintly reputation. Bright, personable, experienced, she is known, above all, for the confidence she inspires in mothers who have chosen to have their babies at home. But when a ferocious March ice storm strands her during a complicated delivery, Sibyl is forced to make a split-second decision that will threaten her reputation and alter her life forever. She soon finds herself the target of a criminal investigation, branded an outlaw bdy the medical establishment that hopes to make an example of her. Now, facing a stiff jail sentence, Sibyl must convince a jury-and the teenage daughter who idolizes her-that she made the right choice that stormy night. First, though, she must convince herself.

    In the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird , Chris Bohjalian's bestselling novel Midwives has now become a riviting stage play-a courtroom drama that leaves the audience deliberating even after the jury has returned its verdict.

About the Author

    Mad River Rising
     by Dana Yeaton     176pp 1999, ISBN 0-9669177-2-3
    In this moving story told by characters representing three generations of a Vermont farm family, Dana Yeaton uses the central metaphor of the the Great Flood of 1927 to show the profound effects of both sudden and gradual changes in the Vermont landscape, family dynamics and rural way of life since then. The play weaves back and forth in time through the voice and memory of Angus, who is played both as a young boy and and an old man. Old man Angus returns to the top floor of his family's barn, where young Angus watches his father drown as he attempts to cross the rising Mad river, which separates the barn from the family home. Eventually the house gives way and the river claims the rest of Angus' family as well. The unresolved trauma of that day haunts Angus through the ghost of his father whose persistence appearance interacts with Angus' present day relationships with his nephew and daughter-in-law in an effort to decide the fate of the farm and where Angus will spend his final days.

    Mad River Rising was commissioned with a grant from the Vermont Arts Endowment. It was developed and produced as part of The Catherine Filene Shouse New Play Series at Vermont Stage Company.

    In 1998, Mad River Rising won the Moss Hart Award, professional division from the New England Theatre Conference. The text in this production is based on the production of Mad River Rising that premiered at the Royal Tyler Theatre in, Burlington, Vermont on January 13, 1998.


    Blasts from the Future: An Anthology of Ten-minute Plays
    by The Vermont Young Playwrights Project.     1999, ISBN 0-9669177-0-7
    Here, to our knowledge, is the first anthology of ten-minute plays written by middle and high school students. They come from Vermont Young Playwrights Project-an outreach program of the Vermont Stage Company-which sends professional playwrights into schools throughout the state. The seventeen plays collected here were chosen from among those performed at the first three annual festivals of new student plays. They represent a vast array of themes and characters-from the serious to the sublime to the truly silly, there is something here for everyone's taste. With small casts and simple or implied settings, they are perfect for productions that are easy to mount or tour.

    Blasts from the Future is a production of PenStroke Press, a student publishing venture established at Rochester High School in September 1997. So not only are you supporting the work of fine young playwrights but your purchase of this anthology is also supporting the work of aspiring young editors, designs, and publishers as well.

    Descriptive summary of Contents of Blasts from the Future:

The Admissions Officers by Tim Andrews: Did you ever wonder who goes to heaven and who goes to hell? Find out when God and the Devil meet for Lunch.

Chicken Wings by Emily Pritchard: A comic look at some of the many reasons why flying first class is better than coach.

Eat me by Addison MacDonald: This ten-minute, non-musical version of Sweeny Todd will make you wonder what restaurants really put in your food and why vegetarians are lucky to be vegetarians.

From Dream to Ash by Tessa Adamson-Klein: A jewish composer battling against the restraints of the Nazi German regime.

Hershey: A Space Odyssey by Joanne Baron: Find out what would happen if you had three astronauts and only one Hershey Bar.

Marc and Marie by Alison Goyette: An axplicit look at murder, blackmail, and how women can manipulate their men.

A Treasure in a Teacup by Aaron Kramer: A bittersweet walk down memory lane as two sisters rediscover the treasures of their childhood.

Reality by Erica Blomquist: A powerful monologue about domestic violence.

    Few things in life are as rewarding as watching young talent finding its legs-or,in this case, its voice-and beginning to assert itself. Some of my most enjoyable moments over the years have been spent in the company of young people who are just beginning to discover all the opportunities they have for self-expression and who are becoming aware of how they can shape the world, and other people's perception of the world, through that self-expression.

    That is why the publication of Blasts fron the Future is such a welcome event. Too often, young people are lumped under some monochromatic, and often unflattering, term created by the media-"Generation X" being the most recent-that masks the great diversity of experiences, interests, and accomplishments of our sons and daughters. This book breaks through such drab stereotypes and offers us a rainbow of images, sounds, and emotions. What's more, it gives young producers, directors, and actors fresh, lively material.

    The Vermont Young Playwright's project is a wonderful effort to encourage young artists in their work and to spread the word that our state is home to its own vibrant arts community. The student-run PenStroke Press deserves applause for publishing their work. Blasts from the Future gives these young voices the chance to be heard, and we will all be richer if we listen to what they have to say

Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders
June 1998

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