A Moment in Time at YPT with Adrienne Nelson

Adrienne Nelson One in the Chamber Performance 4

Former YPT Teaching Artist and Actor Adrienne Nelson (second to the right) with (left to right) Farah Lawal Harris, playwright Cameron Byrd, playwright Anna Vargas, and Thembi Duncan at YPT’s performance One in the Chamber (2015)

Each month during our 25th anniversary season, YPT will share a thoughtful reflection from a member of our YPT community. If you’d like to share how a single moment with YPT affected you as a former student, teaching artist, actor, staff member, supporter, volunteer or as any other role with YPT, please contact Teshonne Powell at tpowell@yptdc.org.

I will forever treasure my time teaching for various YPT In-school and After-School Programs from 2007 to 2010, and collaborating on special projects over the years since then. I learned and grew significantly as an artist and educator through collaborating with the inspiring young playwrights and teachers at Watkins Elementary School, McFarland Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, Ferebee Hope Elementary and Wilson High School, and through the professional development and training offered by the gifted and nurturing artists at YPT. 

I had a blast performing student-written scenes by the young playwrights at [Washington Latin Public Charter School]. It was incredibly refreshing watching the playwrights light up when we helped electrify a scene that one of their classmates wrote and inspire laughter from all of their classmates—especially in classes where previously many seemed a little guarded. By seeing us risk big (and sometimes make fools of ourselves), it seemed to give them permission to risk more significantly in their writing and reflections. 

One of my favorite empowering aspects of the project-based learning we explored when creating and performing a play or scene happened when students that might not have been at the top of every other class and/or the leader on the court or in other activities stepped up to be better heard and respected by coming up with the perfect title for our play, or dramatic mic- dropping resolution, or explosive and wildly inventive and heartfelt conflict or an utterly hilarious or crushingly human monologue. The look on everyone’s faces when they shared a monologue that crushed in its hilarity or humanity, the respect they then felt and earned from their peers, family, teachers and themselves was/is everything. These moments are life-changing. The moments that make you realize that theater and specifically sharing something you wrote, in no small way, can indeed change the world. 

I was also grateful for the times when I was able to demonstrate and articulate that all this work and fun was also equipping the students with creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills; those 21st-century skills we now know we all need to compete, often in careers and positions that have not yet been created! These are not soft skills take 10!  And of course, I learned so much from the inspiring and ferociously hard-working, full-time teachers with whom I was so grateful to collaborate. 

Thanks to all at YPT for your ferocious compassion, intelligence, generosity, inclusiveness and creativity. You are changing lives and making such a beautiful difference. 

Adrienne Nelson
Actor/Acting Coach/Dialect Coach
Former YPT Teaching Artist

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