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
7pm
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
7pm
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
7pm
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
7pm
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
7pm
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
7pm
Source

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!

Our 20Fest plays and playwrights!

You’ve met the nine other theater companies performing student-written plays at our upcoming 20th Anniversary Festival – now meet our wonderful student playwrights and find out about the plays themselves!

20Fest is coming up Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7pm at Theater J – be there for a FREE theater event 20 years in the making!


The Stranger by Sam BurrisSam Burris

First performed in the 2012 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

In The Stranger, Sam Burris deftly personifies the feeling of fear as a character, depicting the struggles of a recent war veteran. Follow Lieutenant Parker as he tries to leave “Fear” behind and start a new life as a civilian.

Sam wrote The Stranger as a response to seeing so many veterans who he believed faced significant hardships and disrespect from their community, many of them homeless. Now that Sam’s play has been published, he hopes that his message will reach readers across the country. “I really hope that people understand how much others go through to protect us. I hope they have a newfound respect for veterans and anyone who has served our country in any form.”

Sam is an active alumnus of Young Playwrights’ Theater and a member of our Student Advisory Council. He wrote The Stranger as an eighth grader at Swanson Middle School. It will be performed at 20Fest by dog & pony dc.


Paul McCoyerMoney, Money, Money by Paul McCoyer

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

Promising Playwright

Jack and Ronaldo are young entrepreneurs. At first, they’re drawn together by their love of money, but it’s that same love that drives them apart. Paul McCoyer presents a hilarious satire titled Money, Money, Money.

When it comes to inspiration, Paul says, “A writer can be inspired about things that annoy him/her, in addition to things they like. For example: when someone is stubborn or lazy, or when your teachers give you too much homework, things like that. I was recently inspired to write a video script about the five most annoying things my little brother does. Inspiration isn’t always about what you like.”

Paul is an active alumnus of Young Playwrights’ Theater and a member of our Student Advisory Council. He wrote Money, Money, Money as fifth grader at Bancroft Elementary School. It will be performed at 20Fest by dog & pony dc.


Kyrtham FrancoMagnet Dude by Kyrtham Franco

First performed in the 2007 Express Tour

Promising Playwright

Magnet Dude has a secret—metal terrifies him! When a super villain seeks to exploit this weakness, he must face the fact that even superheroes need a little help from their friends. What happens next? Find out in Magnet Dude, by Kyrtham Franco.

“Let your imagination run free and you might accomplish something you didn’t expect. I know this because it happened to me when I wrote this play.”

Kyrtham wrote Magnet Dude as a sixth grader at Capitol City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. It will be performed at 20Fest by Faction of Fools Theatre Company.


The Enemy Attacks! by Julia Winkler

First performed in the 2006 New Play Festival

What happens when the broccoli is tired of being the most ignored vegetable on the party platter? This imaginative play “dips” into the inner lives of vegetables and…humanity…with hilarious and wise outcomes! The Enemy Attacks! features a piece of broccoli names Broccoliti and his celery friend, Celetunia, as they work to defeat the hungry human, Timmy Jim Jim, before he can eat them off a veggie plate. They are assisted in their quest by their imaginary friends, Stickathina and Harry Green, as well as an orange named Orangellio.

“It impacted me in a big way,” Julia says. “Just having the chance to write.” She has some advice for those interested in writing: “If you like to write, but you’re nervous about it, just do it for fun and see what happens!”

Julia wrote The Enemy Attacks! as a third grader at the Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Washington, D.C. It will be performed at 20Fest by Faction of Fools Theatre Company.


YPTThe Elevator by Nora Spellane

First Perfomed in the 2009 New Play Festival

Performance video

In The Elevator, Ahmed, a Muslim man, and George, a man prejudiced against Muslims, get stuck together in an elevator. Ahmed suggests they work together to get out of their situation, but George must first overcome some of his prejudices in order to do so.

“Art is powerful,” says Nora. “You are powerful. Create. Produce. Get yourself out there and speak.”

Nora wrote The Elevator as a ninth grader at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Forum Theatre.


Color Lines by Sheila Walcott

First perfomed as part of The Pen is Mightier: Proudly Presenting the 1999 Spring Tour

In Color Lines, Sheila explores the topic of interracial dating and expectations in a college setting.

Sheila is now Vice President of Original Movies at The Disney Channel in Los Angeles. She says that having her play selected for professional production by YPT was one of the main reasons she embarked on a career in entertainment because it validated her skills as a writer.

Sheila wrote Color Lines in 1998 as a senior at Benjamin Banneker Academic Senior High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Forum Theatre.


Young Playwright MarianaMariana’s Wish by Mariana Pavón Sánchez

First performed in the 2010 New Play Festival

Performance video

For many people around the world, living in the United States is a dream. But what happens when making that dream a reality means leaving family behind? In Mariana’s Wish by Mariana Pavón Sánchez, a teenage girl wants nothing more than to see her mother, but they’re hundreds and hundreds of miles apart, and she must first convince her father to let her leave.

When YPT received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2010 (one of only 15 winners selected for this honor, from a national pool of more than 400 nominations), Mariana was selected to receive the award on behalf of YPT from First Lady Michelle Obama at a special White House ceremony. Mariana spoke at the ceremony about her own journey and the impact YPT had on her life. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, also attended the ceremony and told Mariana after she accepted the award how he, too, found his voice through artistic expression.

Mariana wrote Mariana’s Wish as a junior at Wakefield High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by GALA Hispanic Theatre.


Moving Out by Edwin Ventura

GALA Hispanic Theatre will also perform the very special play Moving Out by the late playwright, Edwin Ventura, who was tragically killed in 2007 at the age of 18. Ventura had felt trapped by the violence of his neighborhood, and dreamed of moving to a safe place with his family. His touching play tells the tale of a family hurt by violence when the father is shot by a masked gunman during a robbery.Only hours before he was killed, Edwin and his family had visited the home that they hoped to buy in the Maryland suburbs.

YPT honored Edwin’s passion and talent with a public reading of Moving Out in May 2007. The evening brought together friends, family members, local elected officials and activists and inspired a lively dialogue about ending neighborhood violence. 


Love, Math and Martians Don’t Mix by Cassidy Boomsma

First performed in the 2010 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

Love, Math and Martians Don’t Mix is a classic romantic comedy told from a middle school perspective that reminds us of the emotional complexity of finding a love that is out of this world. “My main goal in writing this play was to make people laugh, but I think that the deeper anti-bullying message is also very important,” says Cassidy. “We are rooting for the nerds because, let’s face it, there is a little nerd in every one of us. So let’s all fight those cowardly bullies, Martian style!”

Cassidy wrote Love, Math and Martians Don’t Mix as an eighth grader at Swanson Middle School. It will be performed at 20Fest by No Rules Theatre Company.


Daft Desire by Kenrry Alvarado

First performed in the 2010 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

Daft Desire is a tongue in cheek tale of love, revenge and the power of the mafia. When your ex is out to get you, the question is: who’s in charge here?

“YPT has provided me such an amazing opportunity in producing this play I wrote for their workshop,” says Kenrry. The fact that they were able to bring my thoughts and ideas to life through this program brought me sheer joy and inspiration. I realized that I am more than just one of many, beyond a mere high school student with a negligible impact in society, and that I don’t have to be Batman to distinguish myself from the crowd and have my voice heard. The boundaries were broken. The opportunities became vividly clear. I was finally capable. YPT opened my eyes to a world of endless possibilities.”

Kenrry wrote Daft Desire as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by No Rules Theatre Company.


Julie KashmanianPolished by Julie Kashmanian

First performed in the 2012 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

Julie Kashmanian’s Polished is a hilarious tale of sibling rivalry. Leah just wants to paint her nails. Jo just wants to wash her hair. A struggle over time in the bathroom becomes “possibly the strangest near-death experience ever recorded.”

Since she can remember, Julie has loved creating stories. She spent her childhood inventing wild original tales. Before she had even learned to write, she would dictate stories for her parents to transcribe while she did the illustrations. In addition to writing and acting, Julie also sings, dances, plays the piano, and has studied costume design. She is a former member of YPT’s Student Advisory Council.

Julie wrote Polished as an eighth grader at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program. It will be performed at 20Fest by Pinky Swear Productions.


Rita by Breena Bradford

First performed in the 2001 Empower Play Festival

In Rita, Breena tells the story of the titular character’s crush on a boy in her class, who might not be the type of person she thinks he is.

Breena wrote Rita as a senior at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Pinky Swear Productions.


Sophie ReVealAlly in Blunderland by Sophie ReVeal

First performed in the 2009 Express Tour

Promising Playwright

Ally’s a hardworking student who excels in school, sports, everything! But when she runs too fast and falls down a rabbit hole during a soccer game, her adventures in Blunderland teach her that maybe she should slow down, stop to smell the roses every once in a while and learn to enjoy the everyday wonders…of home.

“If you want to be a writer, just start writing,” says Sophie. “You can never be too old or too young to come up with great ideas.”

Sophie wrote Ally in Blunderland as a fourth grader at Francis Scott Key Elementary. It will be performed at 20Fest by Rorschach Theatre.


Tornado Boy by Antawan Taylor

First performed in the 2009 New Play Festival

Performance video

Jeremy is an elementary school kid with a special power—he is a superhero with the ability to become a tornado! Antawan’s play tells the story of Tornado Boy as he faces his enemy, Scorch.

Antawan wasn’t a huge fan of writing until YPT came to his elementary school classroom in 2009. “If YPT comes to you, it’s a good opportunity to try to change your life, because it changed my whole perspective on my life. I wasn’t really interested in the arts before, but now I am. So just try it.”

Antawan wrote Tornado Boy as a fifth grader at Plummer Elementary School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Rorschach Theatre. 


Chris ChioRobbed by Chris Chio

First performed in the 2012 New Play Festival

What happens when a robber comes up empty-handed? Chris Chio explores a frustrating day in the life of a thief in his hilarious play, Robbed.

Chris is a member of YPT’s Young Playwrights’ Workshop.

He wrote Robbed as a seventh grader at Lincoln Multicultural Middle School. It will be performed at 20Fest by The Washington Rogues. 


Mayra RiveraLove What!? No!? Me a 10 Year Old?! What? Uh-Oh!! by Mayra Rivera

First performed in the 2007 Express Tour

Promising Playwright
Alumni Ambassador

Love What!? No!? Me a 10 Year Old?! What? Uh-Oh!! tells the story of Jaquelyn and her “friend” Stinky Brian. Mayra captured the discomfort, earnestness and hilarity of an elementary school love triangle.

Mayra loves to express herself creatively. In high school, she had some great advice for other young writers: “Some people think that the fact that they’re young means that nobody will listen. Through YPT I learned that people do listen. Just express yourself and don’t care what other people say.”

Mayra wrote her play as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by The Washington Rogues.


Shannon MarshallSociety Unjust by Shannon Marshall

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

Promising Playwright

Shannon Marshall explores the human face of gentrification in her play, Society Unjust. A 73 year old woman is offered a large sum of money for her house. Her choice becomes increasingly difficult, and she must decide which is more important: her past or her future?

Shannon’s experience of the gentrification happening in her own neighborhood inspired her to write her play. “One day I was walking on Georgia Avenue with some friends, and we were looking for a corner store and couldn’t find it. Instead, we saw a big condominium where the corner store used to be,” shares Shannon Marshall. “When we saw that, we were like, ’Wow, what is going on?’” She based her protagonist on her grandmother. She says of her grandmother’s experience, “Developers were saying, ’This is a historic neighborhood’, and property tax was raised, but my grandmother was very, very determined to keep living in the area. She lived there up until she passed away, when her house was sold and renovated. When I saw my play performed, I was like, ’Wow, that’s my grandmother on stage.’”

Shannon wrote Society Unjust as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Wild Women Theatre.


Amber Faith WaltonChanging Tides: Judge Me Gently by Amber Faith Walton

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

A young gay woman and a very conservative man are thrown together in Amber Faith Walton’s play Changing Tides: Judge Me Gently. Can a simple conversation change a man’s mind? How powerful are our words? And what is really at stake?

Amber’s play was inspired by her own feelings of social exclusion: “As a biracial female I’ve been hurt and ostracized in both my communities…My protagonist also shares this frustration of not having those closest to her relate to her unique experiences.” Her experience throughout the production process of her play in the 2011 New Play Festival, along with the audience’s overwhelmingly positive response, inspired her to realize she could use her writing to make a difference in the world. Amber submitted an essay about her YPT experience and was awarded $10,000 by the Federal Communications Bar Association towards her tuition at Smith College.

Amber wrote Changing Tides as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Wild Women Theatre.


The Day After Bob Said, “Yeah, Right” by Ann Gill

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

Promising Playwright

Meet Bob. Bob is lazy. Bob doesn’t think this is a problem, but his mom disagrees. Is there anything that will make this slob change his ways? Find out in The Day After Bob Said, “Yeah, Right.”

“Do your best during everything because you might just write a play that gets turned into a staged play,” says Ann. “Express yourself as well as take the risk.”

Ann wrote The Day After Bob as a sixth grader at Maya Angelou Public Charter School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Young Playwrights’ Theater.


Rare and Exotic by Josh Perles

First performed in the 2002 Empower Play Festival

“If you never do anything that scares you, or makes you uncomfortable, you will never know what you are actually capable of.”

Josh wrote his play as a sophomore at Wilson High School. He graduated from New York University School of Law in 2013. Rare and Exotic will be performed at 20Fest by Young Playwrights’ Theater.