YPT’s 20th Anniversary Season: A Look Back

20Fest logo FINAL

That’s a wrap!

YPT’s 20th anniversary performance season is in the books, and it was one for…well, the books.

In the last seven months, YPT has held six unique performances, featuring a grand total of 41 student-written plays. Over 100 professional theater artists participated in YPT’s productions this year, including actors and directors from ten different DC-area theater companies. Nearly 1,000 people attended our free productions, and were inspired to donate upwards of $2,000: enough to fund one more classroom in our 20 Classroom Challenge!

In honor of a record-breaking year of student-written theater, we wanted to remember some of the highlights from a season we’ll never forget!

20Fest Flier FINAL FINALYPT’s 20th Anniversary Festival
Friday, December 12, 2014
Theater J

YPT’s 20th anniversary season began with a celebration of our rich history: the 20th Anniversary Festival! Featuring twenty of the best plays written in YPT’s first twenty years, 20Fest brought together ten local companies to remount the student pieces in their own signature styles.

From Rorschach Theatre’s reimagining of Ally in Blunderland to Faction of Fools’ commedia dell’arte take on Magnet Dude, 20Fest honored twenty years of young playwrights with transcendent interpretations and performances of their work. Thank you to all who took part in 20Fest – it was such a joy to see the DC theater community rally around young voices!

For photos from 20Fest, click here.
For video of the performance, click here.
To buy Write to Dream, the book containing all the 20Fest plays, click here!

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Silence is Violence flier FINALSilence Is Violence: A #BlackLivesMatter Event
Tuesday, January 29, 2015
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

At the dawn of 2015, the #BlackLivesMatter movement had grown into a nationwide outcry against racial injustice and police brutality. Seeing that DC’s young people had little chance to share their own reflections on the movement, YPT did something we’ve never done before: we held a pop-up event.

Conceived and organized in under two weeks, Silence Is Violence: A #BlackLivesMatter Event was an open mic-style forum for artistic and community expression. Before a packed house at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, eleven adult and four youth artists performed works of poetry and prose, including a group reading of response pieces written by sixth graders at Eliot-Hine Middle School.

The event culminated in a space for community artistic response, including a group mural and an #IHaveADream ribbon activity led by activist Omolara Williams McCallister. It was incredible to see so many people empowered to speak their minds!

For photos from Silence Is Violence, click here!
To read the student pieces from the event, visit our blog, Silence Is Violence DC.

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Photo by ShelbyWorks

NWN nofilter flier v2New Writers Now! #nofilter
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Anacostia Playhouse

Just two weeks after Silence Is Violence came New Writers Now! #nofilter, YPT’s first professional staged reading of 2015.

In honor of Black History Month, #nofilter featured four powerful plays written by black female students in our In-School Playwriting Program. Presented by YPT in partnership with Wild Women Theatre, the performance captivated the capacity crowd with tales of murder and mystery, love and kinship, teen homelessness and much more.

Through this celebration of young black voices, we were honored to continue the conversation around the #BlackLivesMatter movement. After the show, audience members were invited to contribute their own experiences to the community mural begun at Silence Is Violence.

For photos from #nofilter, click here!
For complete video of the performance, click here.

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2015 NPF Postcard FRONT FINALThe 2015 New Play Festival
April 20-22, 2015
GALA Hispanic Theatre

After #nofilter came our biggest performance event of the season: the 2015 New Play Festival!

This year’s Festival spanned three nights, featuring fifteen brand-new works written by YPT students. The plays brought to life tales of samurai warriors and dreadlock-nappers; brothers and sisters and fathers and sons; poets, playwrights and, of course, vengeful bacon strips.

The 2015 New Play Festival drew over 400 people to GALA Hispanic Theatre and raised over $1,800, making it among the most successful New Play Festivals in YPT history!

For photos from the 2015 New Play Festival, click here!
Videos from the Festival are not yet online, but you can watch the promotional “showdown” videos here!

To buy the 2015 New Play Festival book, featuring all 32 Featured and Finalist plays, click here!

NPF 2015 Group B-215

Stage Fright flier FINALThe Student Advisory Council Presents: Stage Fright
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Busboys and Poets

The close of the New Play Festival marked the end of YPT’s professional performance season, but our students were not done sharing their work!

The Student Advisory Council, a group of YPT alumni who advise our staff and create new work together, followed up last year’s Dear Mr. Stein with a new original play, Stage Fright. Through a series of vignettes and monologues—some funny, some poignant—Stage Fright addressed our everyday fears and not-so-everyday phobias.

The play culminated in a Choose Your Own Adventure piece that brought the audience into the performance, and raised over $200 for YPT in the process!

For photos from Stage Fright, click here!
For the full video of the show, click here!

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YPW Presents 2015 flier FINALThe Young Playwrights’ Workshop Presents: The Art of Understanding
Monday, June 15

YPT’s 2014-15 performance season concluded with The Art of Understanding, an original play written and performed by the teen artists of our award-winning Young Playwrights’ Workshop!

Weaving together dramatic vignettes and personal poems, The Art of Understanding addressed the subject of mental health through a variety of genres and perspectives. From love stories to tales of escape, the play explored the experience of people with eating disorders, multiple personality disorder, depression and much more.

Presented by CulturalDC as part of the 2015 Source Festival, The Art of Understanding wowed the crowd and sparked a valuable dialogue about mental illness, representation and the creative process. The night ended with a dessert reception celebrating an incredible season and paying homage to those Young Playwrights’ Workshop members moving on to college and more!

For photos from The Art of Understanding, click here!
For an interview with three graduating Workshop seniors, click here!

YPW 2015 Performance-213

Thank you for supporting YPT’s 20th anniversary performance season! We’ll see you in the fall!

14 Things We’re Excited About in 2014

Happy New Year!

YPT recently counted down 14 things (of many) that we make us jazzed about 2014, and we’re excited to share them with you.

1. More students, more schools. Last year, YPT reached 1,800 students, more than ever before in our history. And 2014 is on track to be our biggest year yet, serving 2,000 in new schools and organizations throughout the region. And we won’t stop until EVERY kid knows the power of his own voice.

2. Bragging rights as a featured Catalogue for Philanthropy charity. YPT is proud to be featured in the 2013-2014 Catalogue for Philanthropy. The Catalogue represents some of the best community-based charities in DC, Maryland and Virginia and we are thrilled to be included in 2014. Visit our CFP page for more information!

3. Continuing local partnerships. In the fall, YPT was excited to launch a new partnership with our neighbor Sitar Arts Center to integrate a playwriting program into their arts programming. We had a great time working with Sitar students this year, and thanks to generous support from the England Family Foundation we are excited to continue our program in the spring!


4. New ideas. Every year, YPT is blown away by our students’ creativity. 2013 brought us such memorable characters as Tim the Sloth and Dr. Pig, robot siblings and important lessons in “chill-ness”, friendship, loyalty and saving the world. We can’t wait to see what our students have in store for us in 2014.

5. Bringing the 524 Project into the classroom. After a semester spent planning and dreaming together, YPT and iO could not be more excited to launch the 524 Project in the classroom in 2014 and connect our students in Detroit and DC. Follow the action on our tumblr!

6. Launching our Teaching Artist Apprenticeship Program. This spring, YPT is partnering with University of Maryland, College Park and Baltimore County to create an exciting new apprenticeship program. College students will apprentice with seasoned YPT teaching artists gaining skills and experience to help them secure paid teaching artist work after graduation and training the next generation of teaching artists in YPT’s model. We’re excited to grow the YPT family!

7. Our partnership with Maya Angelou Academy. In 2013, YPT expanded our programming to serve incarcerated young men at Maya Angelou Academy through a new partnership with the See Forever Foundation and New Beginnings Youth Development Center. This experience was one of our most rewarding partnerships last year, and we are thrilled and honored to return to Maya Angelou this spring to help more students share their stories through playwriting.

8. Our Student Advisory Council. Our students rock. Last year, they launched an independent fundraising project (including their own video) to raise money to bring YPT to Amidon Bowen Elementary School, a school that has spent years on our waiting list. This year, our students are developing creative ways to raise awareness of YPT and exploring ways they can break down youth stereotypes in their communities. We are blown away every meeting by their insight, creativity and enthusiasm and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish in 2014.


9. The Young Playwrights’ Workshop. Speaking of amazing students, we cannot wait to see what our Workshop students dream up this year. Our students’ original play, Behind the Mask, took the Source Festival by storm last summer and our students are hard at work right now coming up with an idea for their new play, which will be back at Source in June 2014!

10. Our biggest staff yet. YPT welcomed several new staff members this year to support our incredible growth. In 2014, we’re excited to welcome Jeff Gilliland, our new Communications Associate to the YPT team, and to congratulate Laura Wood, our intern-turned-fellow who will become our full-time Community Engagement Assistant in January. With seven full-time staff, three resident teaching artists and two interns, the YPT office will be busier than ever in 2014!


11. Eat for Good: The 2014 Giving Voice Award Gala. Our Giving Voice Award Gala is back and this year we’re eating for good! On March 14th, join us as we honor local artist, activist and entrepreneur Andy Shallal (founder of Busboys and Poets) and sample our way through DC with food and drinks from local restaurants, enter to win unique raffle prizes and dance the night away to live music. Buy your tickets now!

12. YPTexas! YPT is hitting the road again! In January, YPT staff will be traveling to Hidalgo County, Texas, working with YPT’s own former Resident Teaching Artist Catherine DiSanza to launch a pilot of our program for students in Garcia Elementary School, a school located just miles from the Mexican border.

10. New Writers Now!: Truth and DareJoin YPT in February for an evening of fearless theater as high school playwrights challenge stereotypes and shatter boundaries in four high-stakes new student plays. YPT is bringing our February New Writers Now! to Theater J for the first time, and we can’t wait!

14. The 2014 New Play Festival: bigger than ever! Hands down, our favorite time of year is reading and selecting the plays to be featured in our spring New Play Festival. This year’s Festival promises three nights of hilarious, creative and heartfelt plays written by elementary, middle and high school students. We hope you’ll join us in April!