Reflections on the Lincoln Heights Arts Camp

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Lincoln Heights Arts Camp campers and teaching artists after their final showcase!

In July 2016, YPT held our first-ever multidisciplinary arts camp: the Lincoln Heights Arts Camp! Led by YPT staff and local artists, campers explored the faces and places of Northeast DC through photography, playwriting, audio design and visual art. The camp culminated in a final showcase, where campers read excerpts from their plays and showed off photos and art pieces that encapsulated their lives in Northeast!

After camp ended, camper Brittany Butler and photography week teaching artist Kenji Jasper wrote blog posts about their experience in camp. Read on for their thoughts and memories of the Lincoln Heights Arts Camp!


 Lincoln Heights Arts Camp Blog – Brittany Butler

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Brittany Butler (R) performs during the Lincoln Heights Arts Camp’s final showcase.

My name is Brittany Butler, I’m 17 years old and I was a camper at YPT’s Lincoln Heights Art Camp. I was placed here as a job assignment for the Summer Youth Employment Program so I didn’t really know too much about the camp. IMG_0691My first day there was not what I expected and I honestly had no interest in staying for the whole camp. There was a lot of young kids there and I was basically the only one there that was my age so I was pretty bored. The following week is when things began to get better! There were no more young kids and more teens around my age began to come. The activities we did the first week were very fun as well. We started off learning a bit about Photography with Mr. Jasper.  I liked working with him because he made us engage with each other by having us work in groups. Doing this helped us get to know each other a little better. We also took a few little trips while working on photography. We went to Benning Road Metro Station, Marvin Gaye Park and to the famous landmark, The Shrimp Boat to shoot some fun shots of each other. The first week’s activities were so fun that I was really looking forward to next week which was playwriting.

Week Two we worked with Ms. Harris and Ms. Laurie to write a short play for our final showcase. The idea of playwriting did not seem like something I’d enjoy at first but of course Ms. Harris made the week very enjoyable! We chose a photo out of the ones we shot during Week One to base our play off. Mine ended up being about a girl who had no friends at school but had a connection with trees. She also had super powers that her mom didn’t like which led to an unexpected turn of events in the play! I ended up really enjoying the playwriting week and didn’t want to move on to the next week because I had so many ideas I wanted to add to my play.

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Sound design with Kevin!

Week Three was music! We worked with Mr. Kevin who was a music engineer who worked with many people whose music I actually listen to. This week turned out being my favorite week out of the entire camp!! We created really cool sound effects and music that we added to our plays. It was really cool seeing how he could make a song sound like it was coming out of earphones or make footsteps sound far away to close up by just using one computer program. At the end of Week Three I was really excited to perform my play because of these sounds we created because it made everything more interesting!

The fourth and final week was visual arts. During this week we worked with Ms. Asha and made collages about our passions. I chose to do mine about Cheer because that’s one of my passions. I gathered a bunch of my favorite action shots of my cheer team and I, printed them out and created a beautiful collage that I am very proud of. So proud of that I took it home and hung it on my wall!! Next we made keychains out of wood. I wasn’t sure what to do so I ended up just writing my zodiac sign and birthday on it with puffy paint. When it was finished it actually looked really good. We also decorated old records. I kept this project simple and just painted my favorite saying on it, “Always Strive and Prosper”! I plan on hanging this in my locker when I go back to school as motivation to get through my SENIOR YEAR!

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Final showcase photos. “Always Strive and Prosper” on the left in green!

At the end the Lincoln Heights Art Camp ended up being a complete success and I am glad I got to spend my summer being involved with this camp. Not only was it fun but it taught me a lot as well and also brought out the creative side of me which I really enjoyed. The final showcase was very bittersweet because I was finally able to show everything I did throughout the camp but I also meant that the camp was over. I made some new friends that I look forward to building better friendships with and met some awesome teachers and mentors like, Ms. Harris and Ms. Duncan, which I plan on keeping in touch with for things in the future. 

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Thanks to Brittany Butler for this blog post!


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Kenji Jasper speaks at the Lincoln Heights Arts Camp’s final showcase.

Teacher’s Log: Photography Week – Kenji Jasper

I came to YPT as a veteran of teaching creative workshops for inner-city youth.  I had started just barely out of high school as a co-instructor for The Institute for the Preservation and Study of African American Writing, which eventually led to my work with organizations like the Brooklyn Center for the Environment, The Bedford-Stuyvesant ‘I Have A Dream’ program, CentroNia and most recently Guerilla Arts and The College Success Foundation.  I knew how to work with teens, but I had only taught photography once before.  And as I would only have three days of class time, I decided that I would focus less on techniques and equipment and more on sparking competition between groups and allowing the students to have a good time in the rising summer heat.

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Having grown up partially in Benning Heights, I knew the area where Daybreak Ministries was holding the camp.  So I developed a curriculum based around students working in small groups outside of the classroom for the second half of each day, following an in-class first hour where they worked individually [ fortunately in air conditioning].  I knew that the more I kept them moving, the easier it would be to engage them in photography.  Using cellphones and two YPT iPads, students found the picture taking to be easy and enjoyable.  Those that didn’t like taking pictures served as models and muses for the others.

Once they began to see their work on the overhead projector at the start of each day the spirit of pride and competition encouraged them to take better pictures in hopes of cornering a little more spotlight for themselves among their peers.  They scaled high fences and repelled down hills to pose by a creek.  They framed shots on playgrounds and grassy hills behind orange brick buildings surrounding the camp headquarters.  And they now have the photos to prove it.

The best part of the experience for me was watching the students rise to each creative challenge.  Presented with a glass full of candy, each student had to take one photograph for each M&M they ate, resulting in a diverse array of photographs that captured not only the dwindling candy but the other students as they fired their best shots at the exercise.  They did the same with a game of chess and a team battle in playing cards.  With each outing, they learned that neither the job of photographer or model was an easy one.  But with effort and focus, everything is possible.

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M&Ms have never looked so beautiful!

My reward came with the sadness and regret students expressed on the last day, as they all seemed to wish that we had more time.  Working with YPT provided me with one of my best teaching experiences to date.  I hope that we get to work together again.

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Thank you to Kenji Jasper for a terrific week! The students – and we – love you!

Parting Words from YPT Students

This year, three YPT superstars – Sam Burris, Nana Gongadze and Anna Vargas – graduated from high school. All three have been in our work since middle school, have had their plays produced and were long-term members of our Student Advisory Council. Most recently, Sam and Anna interned with us as part of their “Senior Experience” month at Washington-Lee High School.

As Sam, Nana and Anna go off to college, each left us with beautiful parting words. We have reprinted them here to celebrate their accomplishments, their growth and all they have given to the YPT family! Enjoy!


Senior Experience Reflection, by Sam Burris

FY16 SAC Show-224Imagine, if you will, being in eighth grade again. Your friend group is constantly oscillating, you are trying to decide where you are going to attend high school, and hair is growing in places where hair has never grown before. Then, in one of your most beloved classes, a stranger walks in one day. This stranger brings with them a tantalizing new idea: playwriting. With this idea comes the promise that at the end of the year, a select few lucky students will have their play professionally produced.

This was the situation I found myself in when I was first introduced to Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), a DC nonprofit which works with students in the metro area to write full-length, completely original plays. I was one of those lucky few who had their play produced in YPT’s annual New Play Festival way back in 2012 (though I started working with them in 2011) and when it came time to decide on my “senior experience” internship a whole 5 years later, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather do it.

I’ve been working with YPT consistently, though in different capacities, for the 5 years I have been affiliated with the organization. Of course, my work with them started when their In-School Playwriting Program came into my eighth grade drama class, but since then I’ve performed alongside their hallmark after-school Workshop program, been a member of their Student Advisory Council, and spoken at various events, all of which has culminated in this internship. Going into senior experience, I was not only excited to give back to an organization which had given me so much in the past, but I was also ready to learn about one of the few fields of theatre arts I was not already well versed in: arts administration.Sam & Anna Last Day

Luckily for me, that is exactly what myself and fellow senior and YPT alum Anna Vargas got throughout our internship. No one ever really considers the nitty gritty work that arts administration requires when seeing the work presented before an audience. In the past four weeks I have sorted twenty one years’ worth of records, amassed a number of quotes and drawings for use in later publications, and extensively researched DC public schools. If you ever have any questions about the demographics of Cardozo Education Campus during the 2016 Fiscal Year or the production history of Savoy Elementary School as far back as the 2011 Fiscal Year, I am your man. Sadly though, we were never sent to get coffee for the office’s senior staff members. For that, you would probably have to ask many of the other senior experience candidates.

This internship has certainly taught me innumerable things about the field of arts administration and while I think that I will stick to creation and performance for the foreseeable future, I will always cherish the time I spent here. I have known since the eighth grade that I would miss YPT when I finally went off to college. However, working with them for the past four weeks has given me not only a deeper understanding of the inner-workings of their operation, it has given me insight into why I will miss it so dearly. The YPT staff strive to be much more than just administrators, teachers, and mentors; they sincerely want to be your friend. And, in my case, they are friends who I would rather not say goodbye to.

Sam Burris will attend the New School for Drama this fall, with his eye on becoming a professional actor. We will miss him dearly, too, and wish him all the best in the Big Apple! 

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Senior Experience Reflection, by Anna Vargas

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YPT and I go waaay back.

I’ve been involved with the program since I wrote my three character murder mystery play through the in school program and was selected as a finalist for the New Play Festival in 2012. However, I’ve known YPT staff since I met Laurie Ascoli the summer of 2011, where she was my camp counselor. Since that fateful summer and following fall, I have managed to maintain my ties with YPT as a member of the Student Advisory Council for four years, up until my graduation this year.

Yet, that was not the end of my tale! Sam, my fellow New Play Festival playwright in middle school and Council member in high school, and I interned at YPT through a program at our school allowing us to use the last month of our senior years to help YPT in any way they saw fit. After a good five years, I feel like I’m a seasoned pro at YPT and know a thing or two about this organization, which I’d like to share below.

1 .) The staff and artists are everything you could ever want and more. From secret “files” being passed around the office on the day of a coworker’s birthday to the enthusiasm and creativity brought to every challenge and task they are faced with, the YPT staff dedicates themselves to showing you the best that you can be, encouraging you, cheering you on, and making you feel like part of the family. Not a single person made me feel anything less than complete every time I entered the office. These people (and the stairs up to their offices) absolutely take my breath away.

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2 .) You will learn things about yourself you never knew. I didn’t know I could write or had the skills or imagination to do so until YPT provided me the platform to not only express, but explore all corners of myself and my mind. I remember after the first in school workshop, my friends all sat around at lunch speaking of exactly what they were going to write about, while I hardly had a clue. I was sure one of their plays would prove itself better than mine, as I was not the strongest writer nor had the wildest imagination that I knew of. Yet here I am, and I am still improving daily.

3 .) The communities YPT helps are truly changed for the better. One of my jobs whilst interning was to input self assessment surveys that students took before and after the in school workshop. It warmed my heart seeing the pre survey scores for questions like “My ideas are important” improve by one to three points from before the workshop to afterwards, and the suggestions section on the back filled with pleas from students for YPT to come back next year. I have seen students talk about YPT like the teaching artists have practically hung the moon for teaching them playwriting. I know for a fact that not only this skill, but ability to believe in yourself and what you can accomplish is going to help the next generation in creating a world we would all like to live in.

So, in closing, whether you’re a seasoned YPT pro like myself, or someone who scrambled up a web address and didn’t mean to happen across this blog post but managed to read all the way to the bottom anyway, I sincerely hope you invest your time in YPT. Donate! Volunteer! Intern! Write! They deserve so much. I’m quite thankful for all the time and opportunities they have provided me over the years, including the most recent one to invade their bean bags everyday for a month. Thank you.

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Anna Vargas will attend Wellesley College in the fall. We’d better see you when you come back for Winter Break, Anna! 🙂


A Parting Letter, by Nana Gongadze

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Dearest YPT family,

It’s hard to say in a few words how much the last few years with all of you have meant to me. It has been a wonderful journey since I first stepped foot in your office four years ago – I have a clear memory of driving up for the very first NPF reception with butterflies in my stomach, because I didn’t know what I was in for or who I was going to meet. I am so thankful that what I did discover was a truly beautiful, big-hearted group of people who would inspire me so much throughout my high school days.

Thank you so much both for the experiences you all have given me, and the work you do every day. People talk sometimes about those experiences you have in your adolescent years that shape you and change you, that really impact you as a person – my time on the SAC has been one of those for me. The words we have created and achieved as an ensemble there have been some of the things I’ve been most impressed and surprised by, and most proud of. Every year I have been consistently blown away by how great our final product was, even if there were doubts along the way. Thank you so much for helping me to learn how to better work with an ensemble and a team, because those are valuable skills that I’ll surely take forward with me. Being honestly able to grow up alongside you and the little group we have has been a constant treat over the last few years and a consistent source of inspiration for me.

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I also want to say that the work you do elsewhere in our community blows me away always. It seems like an unlikely thing to come together around, playwriting, and I think that’s one of the things that makes YPT so unique. I have always been proud to be a DC resident(ish) – all the work you do in the community honestly impresses me so much and makes me want to do good too. I know that I am just one of the lives you’ve touched – saying I’m not getting emotional writing this letter would be a lie, and it makes me so happy to think that so many other students get this feeling too thanks to you. You are all such a magnificent, kind, energetic, resourceful, fun and hardworking group of people. I hope you always can be reminded of how awesome you really are.

Goodbyes are SO hard for me because I am really sentimental – but I am exaggerating in now way when I say I’m never going to forget you all! I know it is not goodbye forever and I look forward to staying in touch as I move toward the end of the weird world of teenagerdom. I have so much love in my heart for you guys and I think what you do is really truly magic. The warmest of thanks to you all for the last five years. Have a wonderful summer and always keep on keeping on.

Sincerely,
Nana Gongadze

PS: Please enjoy a small token of my thanks! It is delicious.

Nana YPTea

Nana Gongadze will attend American University in the fall. We are delighted to have her so close by, though we promise not to have her come speak at ALL our events…just some of them. 🙂 We love you, Nana!


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The 2016 New Play Festival – Playwright Speeches

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YPT’s 2016 New Play Festival featured fifteen hilarious, touching, charming and empowering plays written by young playwrights from across the DC area. From stories of time travel and magical homework to dance-offs and basketball showdowns, these fifteen plays shared the powerful voices of some of DC’s most exciting young artists!

Before the performance of their play, each playwright spoke to the crowd about their work, their dreams and their advice for other young playwrights. Their speeches were so inspiring that we decided to share them all with you in their entirety! 

Read on and enjoy!


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The 2016 New Play Festival – Night One
Monday, April 11, 2016
7pm
GALA Hispanic Theatre
Elementary School Plays


 

NPF 2016 Night One-578Wesley Hoy, Playwright,
Arrowstone in Woodland

My name is Wesley Hoy, and my play is called Arrowstone in Woodland. I am in the 4th grade at Bancroft Elementary School. The hardest part of writing it was coming up with ideas. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is that you should think before you write. I hope that in the future I will write another play. When I have a free afternoon my favorite thing to do is to play with my friends, and one thing that might surprise people is that I don’t like hot dogs. If I could change the world, I would want everyone to recycle. Now I hope that you enjoy my play, Arrowstone in Woodland.


NPF 2016 Night One-619Martina Mendoza, Playwright,
To Light Village We Go!

My name is Martina Mendoza, and my play is called To Light Village We Go! I am in the 5th grade at Harriet Tubman Elementary School. I got the idea for this play from when me and my best friend, Harmony, both wanted the same thing in 2nd grade. When I have a free afternoon my favorite thing to do is watch movies with my sisters. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is: be creative. I hope that audiences who see my play will enjoy it, and see that you don’t always have to start out as friends with the people around you, but you can become friends later. I hope that in the future I am successful as a teacher. And now, please enjoy my play, To Light Village We Go!
NPF 2016 Night One-647Aarionna Thomas, Playwright,
The Two Parents

My name is Aarionna Thomas and my play is called The Two Parents. I am in the 5th grade at Orr Elementary School, and when I have a free afternoon my favorite thing to do is write, sing, dance, and watch TV. I hope that audiences who see my play will love it and want me to write another one. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is: keep working hard and write what’s on your mind. I hope that in the future I will be a great writer. So please sit back and enjoy my play, The Two Parents.


NPF 2016 Night One-669Branaya Reese Brown, Playwright,
Mr. Rawr and the Kitty

My name is Branaya Reese Brown, and my play is called Mr. Rawr and the Kitty. I am in the 5th grade, and wrote this play when I was at Watkins Elementary School. I got the idea for this play from my imagination and a drawing I made. The hardest part of writing it was turning my drawing into a play. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is: find something you like and write about it! I love animals, and one thing about me that might surprise people is that I can tell facts about over 100 animals. I hope that in the future I work at a zoo filled with animals, and if I were elected President, I would demand all animal-related books be sent to me. I hope that my play makes you laugh and smile, so please enjoy Mr. Rawr and the Kitty.
NPF 2016 Night One-706Talayia Richardson, Playwright,
God and Gabriel
My name is Talayia Richardson, and my play is called God and Gabriel. I am in the 5th grade at Wheatley Education Campus. I got the idea for this play from church, and a picture at another program. The hardest part of writing it was figuring out how to explain how God and Gabriel had a misunderstanding. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is to have good grammar and feel like you are in the audience and ask yourself questions about the play. I hope that in the future I will be rich and make plays and perform them in public. If I were elected President, I would give everybody the chance to vote and would give everybody a million dollars. Now I hope that enjoy and like my play, God and Gabriel.
NPF 2016 Night One-735Maddie Salunga, Playwright,
The Time Trap
My name is Maddie Salunga, and my play is called The Time Trap. I am in the 5th grade at Watkins Elementary School. I got the idea for this play from when my grandfather had skin cancer. I hope that audiences who see my play will enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed writing it. One thing about me that might surprise people is that even though I am athletic and am tough, I like being female. I also really like science and the outdoors. I hope that in the future there will be more cures for more illnesses. I would like to thank Ms. Joan, who came to our class and helped us out. This play is dedicated to my family and friends, but specifically my grandfather. Thank you, and please enjoy my play, The Time Trap.


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The 2016 New Play Festival – Night Two
Monday, April 18, 2016
7pm
Anacostia Playhouse
High School Plays

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Jarid Shields, Playwright, (Room)

My name is Jarid Shields and my play is called (Room). I am in the 12th grade at Eastern High School. My advice to other young people writing a play is: just write what you think is important or whatever you find interesting or funny. No idea is a bad idea. One thing about me that might surprise people is that I didn’t really consider myself a good writer; however, through this process, I have gained more confidence in my capabilities. I hope that audiences who see my play will gain a better understanding of the difficulties that people with illnesses and disorders, whether mental or physical, have to go through. I hope that in the future we can all be more sympathetic towards one another and be a little less quick to judge and stigmatize. Thank you, and please enjoy my play, (Room).

 

NPF 2016 Night Two-900Rachael Brock, Playwright, School

My name is Rachael and my play is called School.  I’m in the 10th grade at Anacostia High School.  I got the idea for my play from my brain—I have an overactive imagination.  The hardest part of writing was that I wrote a play and it was 38 pages long, so they had to cut it short. That broke my heart.  I hope that the audience, who see my play will love it and give good and bad feedback to know what I should strengthen for next time.  My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is to do it and always use imagination.  Don’t let no one bring you down.  One thing about me that might surprise people is I’m talkative and very playful.  When I have a free afternoon, my favorite thing to do is read and write.  I hope in the future that I’ll never stop reading, and if I were elected president, I would demand everyone to read.  Writing is fundamental.

 

NPF 2016 Night Two-933Ronald Coe III, Playwright, Ron Vs. The Living Homework

My name is Ronald Coe and my play is called Ron vs. the Living Homework. The hardest part of writing it was making the homework come to life. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is: never give up. Keep striving to reach your goal. When I have a free afternoon my favorite thing to do is to play video games and listen to music.  I hope that in the future people learn that being mad is going to get you nowhere in life. So now I hope that you laugh and enjoy my play, Ron vs. the Living Homework.

 

NPF 2016 Night Two-973Nomin Ganmend, Playwright, Twins

My name is Nomin Ganmend and my play is called Twins. I am in the 12th grade at Wakefield High School. I hope that audiences who see my play will understand that no matter what happens, you should support your partner. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is to think about real life and show people what they should do to deal with their problems. When I have a free afternoon my favorite thing to do is crafting. I like to do and create new things. I hope that in the future I finish college and get the career I want. So now, please enjoy my play, Twins.


NPF 2016 Night Three Postcard FINAL FRONT

The 2016 New Play Festival – Night Three
Monday, April 25, 2016

7pm
Logan Fringe Arts Space
Elementary and Middle School Plays

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Nafisa Weeks, Playwright, Living the Dream

My name is Nafisa Weeks and my play is called Living the Dream. I am in the 7th grade at Eliot-Hine Middle School. I got the idea for this play from my dream of becoming a CEO. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is: use your imagination. One thing about me that might surprise people is that I like to do adventurous and extreme things such as cliff diving and sky diving. These are things I want to try. I hope that in the future I will be able to look back at all my achievements, and if I were elected President, I would make the world a better place. Now I hope that you will be amazed by my play, Living the Dream.

 

Alice Hockstader Headshot squareAlice Hockstader, Playwright, A Mortal in an Immortal Land

My name is Alice Hockstader and my play is called A Mortal in an Immortal Land. I am in the 7th grade at The Lab School of Washington. I got the idea for this play from Greek Mythology and the Percy Jackson series. When I have a free afternoon my favorite thing to do is read books, and one thing that might surprise people is that I make stories from nothing all the time. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is: do something you know a lot about. I hope that in the future I will be a professor of Greek Mythology, and if I were elected President I would make more National Parks and help conserve animals. Now I hope you enjoy my play, A Mortal in an Immortal Land.

 

Marisa Poe Headshot squareMarisa Poe, Playwright, The Basketball Duel

My name is Marisa Poe and my play is called The Basketball Duel. I am in the 6th grade at Maret School. I got the idea for this play from my love for basketball. I realized how unequal the salaries between men and women professional basketball players are, and wanted to spread the word. I hope that audiences who see my play will understand how unjust the salary differences are and try to make a difference. The hardest part of writing this was probably just starting it. Once I began, though, it became hard to stop. My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is to write about something you care about, and have fun with it! I hope that in the future these salary differences between men and women will change and women will get equal pay for equal work. Thank you, and please enjoy my play, The Basketball Duel.

 

Sierra Morris Headshot squareSierra Morris, Playwright, Show Your Moves

My name is Sierra Morris and my play is called Show Your Moves! I am in the 5th grade at Moten Elementary School. When I have a free afternoon my favorite thing to do is call my friends, go outside, and dance.  My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is: don’t be afraid to show your talent in your plays, because it can probably kick off your future dream. I want someone to see my play and say, “That’s wonderful that a 12 year old black girl is taking her life seriously, and that she wants to do and be something that she wants to do.” If I were elected President, I would stop gun violence and stop the hate of other people, and stop having people live on the street. I hope that in the future me and my family and friends will have a better life and live our dreams. So now please enjoy my play, Show Your Moves!

 

Kreshaun Brooks HeadshotKreshaun Brooks, Playwright, Bob’s Halloween

My name is Kreshaun Brooks and my play is called Bob’s Halloween. I am in the 5th grade at Moten Elementary School. One thing about me that might surprise people is that this is my first time writing a play or anything close to a play. I hope that audiences who see my play will laugh so hard that they jump out of their seats and fly through the roof! My advice to other young people who are interested in writing a play is to write whatever you think the audience will love, and they will love it even more than you thought. I hope that in the future everyone’s house is made of candy and robots make ice cream sundaes for everyone. So now I hope you laugh your pants off and enjoy my play, Bob’s Halloween.

 

Congrats to all our 2016 New Play Festival playwrights! We’re so proud of you!

NPF 2016 Kickoff Party-469

Introducing our 20th Anniversary Festival partners!

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Meet Team #20Fest!

In honor of our 20th anniversary year, YPT is launching our performance season with a very special showcase: The 20th Anniversary Festival! This celebration of young voices and DC theater will bring together ten dynamic local theater companies to remount some of the best-loved plays from throughout our twenty-year history.

On Friday, December 12, 2014, at 7pm at Theater J, YPT will join forces with nine other DC-area theater companies to bring twenty beloved student-written stories back to life onstage. From Tornado Boy to Society Unjust, these plays represent some of the funniest, most inventive and most poignant works our young playwrights have created over the years. We produced these plays when they were first written, then published them all in our first commercially available book, Write to Dream, in 2012. Now, they will be reborn in the unique styles of ten terrific Greater Washington theater companies!

We are so excited to have these talented artists put their own spin on these classic YPT plays. The 20th Anniversary Festival is going to be the event of the season, and we hope you join us to celebrate twenty years of imagination, inspiration and young talent!

Read on for descriptions of each of the participating theaters. Another post featuring the #20Fest plays and playwrights is coming soon, so stay tuned to our blog for more information!


dog & pony dcdog&pony  

dog & pony dc is an ensemble of artists who devise innovative performances that incorporate new ways for audience to experiences theatre.

Whether it’s an ultra-violent live-action version of the Punch and Judy puppet show, or an imagined civic ceremony that ignites debate about a time capsule’s contents, dog & pony dc shows playfully explore the elastic relationship between artist and audience. dog & pony dc likes to think that going to their shows is like going to a concert…a rock concert. Everyone’s energized and engaged in the moment, and sometimes the audience ends up on stage.

Interested in getting involved with dog & pony dc? They’re holding FREE audience integration workshops now through November 22!


Upcoming production:
Sing Me a Song
November 08, 2014, at 7:30pm at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
FREESing me a Song

Willadean Wills collects songs and she has been doing it for longer than you can imagine. But she doesn’t collect them to keep them for herself, she shares them with anybody that wants to learn. In Sing Me a Song, you are invited into a world encompassing the songs of several generations and cultures. Willadean shares her love of songs and singing with the audience and encourages them to do the same, engaging them through conversation, interview, and music.

Sing Me a Song is dog & pony dc’s entry to the 2015 Women’s Voices Theatre Festival, of which YPT is also a part!


FoF logoFaction of Fools Theatre Company   

Faction of Fools is a professional, not-for-profit Commedia dell’Arte troupe based in Washington, DC, and active around the world. Winner of the 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company, Faction of Fools preserves and promotes this Renaissance theatre style by both respecting its heritage and exploring its future.  Through performances, actor training, international initiatives, and educational outreach, Faction of Fools embodies a Commedia dell’Arte that is theatre at its best: physical discipline, spontaneous imagination, collaborative energy, and joyous wonder.

Upcoming production:

The Great One-Man Commedia Epic
Nov 28 – Dec 20, 2014, at Capitol Hill Arts WorkshopCommedia flier
Tickets: $10-20
Created and performed by Matthew R. Wilson

One Actor. Twelve Characters. 1000 Catastrophes.

In this comic tour de force, a single actor brings to life an entire town of squabbling parents, dim-witted servants, and young lovers whose wedding plans are ruined until love prevails and comedy triumphs. Premiered in Italy and performed in London and New York City, THE GREAT ONE-MAN COMMEDIA EPIC receives its first extended run in DC at CHAW this holiday season. Fun for the whole family!

Watch the trailer and buy tickets here!


Forum logo

Forum Theatre   

Forum Theatre produces adventurous, relevant, and challenging plays from a diversity of voices that inspire discussion and build community — and that are accessible, affordable, and entertaining.

Since Forum Theatre’s inception, it has aimed to be both the home for stories that provoke discussion and the place to host that discussion. Forum wants its plays to be a conversation with the audience. Forum tells stories about who we are as a local, national, and global community.

Upcoming productions:

How We Got On
By Idris Goodwin
Directed by Paige Hernandez
Oct 30 – Nov 23, 2014, at The Silver Spring Black Box Theatre
Tickets: $35How We Got On

Set to the music of the late 80’s rap scene, How We Got On is a coming-of-age story about three suburban kids, Hank, Julian, and Luann and how they navigate tumultuous family relationships, cultural isolation, and the search for authenticity. A sultry DJ re-mixes their lives as they use music to discover and express themselves in places words fail.

How We Got On premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville in the 2012 Humana Festival. Idris Goodwin, playwright, essayist, and spoken word artist, uses his cross-discipline talent to tell this contemporary ode to the roots of rap.

How We Got On features YPT Teaching Artist and Company member Manu Kumasi! YPT Fundraising Fellow Natalie Piegari is also interning as the assistant to Forum’s Artistic Director, Michael Dove.

Click here for tickets!

Walking logoWalking the City of Silence and Stone
By Stephen Spotswood
Directed by Jess Jung
November 2014 – Summer 2015

WORLD PREMIERE CITY-SPANNING AUDIO DRAMA

A girl shoves a notebook into your hands. Moments later, she falls from a Metro platform into the path of an oncoming train. Was it a tragic accident? Suicide? Or the latest in a series of sinister events that have their roots deep in the heart of the city? Whatever the answer, it’s the first step in a journey to discover who this girl was and what momentous secret she uncovered that led her into the path of the creature known as the King of Worms.

One part murder mystery, one part ghost story, one part intimate drama: WALKING THE CITY OF SILENCE AND STONE is a site-specific audioplay that uses the entire city as its set piece. To be released in nine parts throughout the season, this world premiere will lead the audience from one end of Washington, D.C. to the other, peeling back the familiar skin of the District to show the strange world that lies just underneath.

Episode 1 just released – CLICK HERE to listen! Recommended listening location: the DC Metro.


GALA logo  GALA Hispanic Theatre  

GALA Hispanic Theatre is the National Center for Latino Performing Arts in the nation’s capital, fostering an understanding and appreciation of Latino arts and culture by a large and diverse public.

GALA preserves and promotes Latino arts and culture and shares this rich Hispanic heritage through its theatre productions and other diverse performing arts programs. By developing, producing and presenting works that explore the breadth of Latino performing arts with its company of bilingual artists, GALA provides opportunities for the Latino artist, educates youth and engages the entire community in an exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Upcoming productions:
10th International Flamenco Festival
November 7 – 16, 2014, at GALA Hispanic Theatre

FLAMENCO(S) DE PLOMO Y COBRE
Mariana Collado & Carlos Chamorro
Nov 13-15, 8 pm  /  Nov 16, 2 pm
Tickets: $20-35

U.S. premiere, direct from Madrid! Mariana Collado and Carlos Chamorro explore the power, intimacy and immensity that are flamenco.

Click here for tickets!


FLAMENCO EN FAMILIA
Flamenco en Familia

November 15, 11 am and 1:30 pm
FREE

Free interactive demonstrations with castañets, fans, and zapateo for children and the entire family led by members of the Spanish Dance Society and other local flamenco artists.


NRlogoBlackTag-2

No Rules Theatre Company 

No Rules’ mission is to present the broadest spectrum of high quality, accessible, truthful theatre that will open the minds and expand the expectations of a diverse audience. Other than this, there are no rules.

No Rules Theatre Company found its origins at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In just a few short seasons NRTC has grown rapidly, thanks in no small part to its reputation for consistently strong casting, experiential designs and dynamic programming. In 2011 No Rules received the Helen Hayes Award for Best Emerging Theatre Company in recognition of the company’s talent and unique contribution to the city’s artistic landscape. Now moving into its fourth season, the company is thrilled to be in residence at the Tony Award© winning Signature Theatre Company in Arlington, VA as well as the state-of-the-art Hanesbrands Theatre in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem, NC.

 Upcoming productions:

In Love and WarcraftIn Love and Warcraft
By Madhuri Shekar
Directed by Joshua Morgan
Winner – 2014 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition
January 7 – 25, 2015 at Signature Theatre
Tickets: $15

In this Washington, D.C. premiere, the worlds of online gaming and in person relationships collide in this up-to-the-minute comedy about straddling the real world and the virtual one. Evie Malone is a college student, a World of Warcraft master, and a virgin. She also makes a little extra cash by writing love letters for people who can’t quite manage their own real relationships. No amount of digital gaming expertise or even her virtual boyfriend can help her out when she finds herself with a handsome, non-virtual, boyfriend, who is ready to rock her worlds.

Click here for tickets!

UnlimitedUnlimited: the Music and Lyrics of Stephen Schwartz
Conceived by Matt Cowart and Joshua Morgan
Arrangements and Orchestrations by Zak Sandler
Directed by Sally Boyett
Musically Directed by Brian Lilly
February 20 – 28, 2015 at the Catholic University of America
This production is co-produced with The Catholic University of America.

From Godspell to Pippin to Wicked, award-winning lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz has touched the hearts of audiences around the world. Come explore Unlimited, a journey of coming of age and trying to find one’s place in the world, as told through the songs of this celebrated composer.


Pinky Swear logoPinky Swear Productions  

Pinky Swear’s Mission is to produce modern plays with well-crafted, believable, engaging women’s roles where people talk to each other and things happen. Their productions are a little funny, a little dark and a lot entertaining.

Their goals are to:

  • Build a company in which local theatre artists can make a living in our community.
  • Raise the profile of women’s voices in theatre by hiring women artists and technicians whenever possible.
  • Enable artists to experiment with new avenues of expression.

Upcoming productions:

Tiny House Plays pic

From Tiny House Plays

2015 holds two brand-new plays from local playwrights. In July, Pinky Swear will be producing Stephen Spotswood‘s* new play, The Last Burlesque, wherein we meet the people behind the smoke and mirrors.

October brings a new work by Donna Rachelle, The Brewery,** for the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Donna represents Pinky Swear’s first foray into an “Adopt a Playwright” program, in which they sponsor a promising playwright from concept through production.

Watch for other surprises in spring!

* Pinky Swear company member
**title subject to change


RT-logo-colorRorschach Theatre 

Through uncommon uses of environment and intimate passionate performances, Rorschach Theatre seeks to lure its audiences beyond the limits of ordinary theatrical experience so that they may discover new elements of their own humanity.

From She Kills Monsters

From She Kills Monsters

Rorschach Theatre is a company that has received significant acclaim for its fierce performance style, its bold use of theatrical space and its dedication to challenging works that are at once relevant and timeless. The company’s work has focused on helping to reveal the contemporary relevance of fable, finding magic in rough spaces, connecting timeless works to a contemporary audience.

Recently, YPT staff members Nicole Jost and Natalie Piegari wrote one-act plays for Rorschach’s theater event, KLECKSOGRAPHY: Haunting Monsters!

Upcoming Productions: Check back for updates on the Rorschach website!


Washington Rogues logoThe Washington Rogues  

The Washington Rogues are a daring new performing arts collective dedicated to showcasing new and exciting works with an emphasis on political and social commentary. With a strong Do-It-Yourself aesthetic, The Rogues are able to create first rate theater on a minimal budget. We pride ourselves on offering opportunities to developing artists as they begin and develop their careers in the nation’s capital.

Click here to read an article by Rogues actor and Washington Post columnist Rachel Manteuffel, about her work in the Rogues’ recent production of The Campsite Rule!

Upcoming Productions: Check back for updates on the Rogues’ website!


WWT Logo

Wild Women Theatre   

From Letters To and From Me

From Letters To and From Me

Founded in 2012, Wild Women Theatre (WWT) explores multiple dimensions of Black womanhood through storytelling, movement, poetry, and song. Wild Women Theatre was founded by some of the founding members of the performance ensemble formerly known as The Saartjie Project which presented original theatre performance from 2008 – 2012: Jade Andwele, margaux delotte-bennett, Shonda Goward, Farah Lawal Harris and Clarissa McKithen. The

company currently includes margaux, Farah and Clarissa, along with a few dedicated area performers and technical crew members.

Founding company member Farah Lawal Harris is a long-time YPT Teaching Artist and company member, who now works as our full-time Program Associate!

Upcoming productions: Check back for updates on Wild Women’s website!


YPT couldn’t be more thrilled to bring together this all-star team of theater companies that reflects the rich and diverse theater community in the nation’s capital. We are so honored that they are all stepping up in support of young artists in Washington, DC. We can’t wait to see how they bring our students’ voices to life, and we hope that you join us for this very special, one-night-only event!

For more information, please visit yptdc.org/Events/20Fest/.

See you at #20Fest!

The Rogue Race

Teaching is hard every day. Even when my lesson plan is clear and my students are completely absorbed and engaged, teaching is really hard.

I feel the same way about running. It doesn’t matter if it’s a humid July afternoon in DC or a cool spring morning, whether I’m jogging on the treadmill or stumbling up a mountain. Rain or shine, hot or cold, running is always hard for me.

As a Resident Teaching Artist for YPT, my job is to teach, so I do it all the time. Running, though, is not my job, so I do it basically never. I know that I should, and I’m generally pretty happy after I do, but even as I think about running while writing this blog post I’m getting winded.

It was announced at a staff meeting earlier this fall that YPT would again be participating in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause, an 8K race that raised $12,000 for YPT in 2012. I was thrilled to have some much needed motivation to get me back in the running game.  About 41 seconds later though, I realized I would be in upstate New York for a wedding that weekend and wouldn’t be able to cross the finish line as my coworkers and friends cheered.

I decided a week or so later that I would run the 8K anyway. At home in New York, with the company of my boyfriend, I would create an 8K course and run it while my coworkers were doing the same in Virginia. I immediately told Brigitte, our Executive Director, about my plan to run a “rogue race”. I’d have to start running.  I told my boss I would.

Kate teaching It was around this time that I began teaching our In-School Playwriting Program for the first time. When I started at YPT in June, I had a wide range of teaching experiences under my belt.  I had lectured college classes on Performativity and the American Dream, I had taught three-year-olds to create ocean waves with their bodies, I had served as a literacy tutor for elementary school students, I had taught fiction classes to gifted teenagers and pretty much everything in between. But teaching playwriting in our classrooms across the Greater Washington region has proven to be the biggest challenge I have faced as an educator.

As a YPT teaching artist, my job is to provide students, in eleven weekly workshops, the inspiration, techniques and tools necessary to write a play. With close to thirty students in most of my classes, there is very little time for individualized attention or hand holding. My lesson plans must be clear and concise as we move quickly from one concept to the next, forcing my students to think creatively and analytically simultaneously. The moment they understand a concept, we’re on to the next one. Once they understand the role of a protagonist, they have to create their own. When they’ve discovered their protagonist’s objective, they’re creating obstacles to get in his or her way. We are constantly moving the carrot, leading them on a creative and intellectual journey that will hopefully conclude with the creation of an original one-act play.

Writing a play is no small feat for anyone. I’ve been stuck on page 47 of the play I’m writing right now for almost six months. Many of my students, however, have never seen a play, so as hard as it is for me to write a play, for them it’s harder.

The days I was in the classroom this fall proved to be the most difficult days to muster the willpower to throw on my sneakers and head outside. My feet were tired from standing all day and I almost always had a headache.

I started off running two miles at a time.  I was pretty disappointed with how difficult those first two miles were. Slowly, though, I was able to run two miles without wanting to throw up (a small victory, I thought). I’d run two and a half miles, and then three, slowly but surely working my way up to five. It was always hard. I would push myself each day for 20, 30, 40, 50 minutes just to come home, shower and realize I’d have to do it all over again the next day. I kept thinking it would get easier, but it didn’t, I’d just have to run farther.

Meanwhile, in the classroom, each workshop felt like a workout. Each lesson was a small goal either missed or achieved. One of my amazing partner teachers, the incomparable Ross Cohen, told me that as a teacher he feels like Sisyphus. Each day he pushes the boulder up a mountain for 90 minutes, only to start from the beginning and do it again with the next period.

While running never really got any easier, I did get better at it. By the time October 12th came along, I ran the 8K in 49 minutes. My mother set an alarm on her phone to come outside and cheer for us as we finished. We got there too quickly, though, and we finished the race without much pomp and circumstance. The two of us were sweaty and tired, but proud that we had finished. kate and nayt

In the classroom I feel that way each day. There’s no one there when the bell rings to give me a high five and say, “Way to go! That lesson on conflict was stellar!” When the bell rings, my students are usually starving, waiting for lunch and running out of the classroom as quickly as their legs can take them down to the cafeteria for a slice of pizza.

Hopefully, though, I pushed them just a little further than the week before. Hopefully, their creative muscles have been exercised and their endurance for this kind of thinking has increased. As their teacher, I’ve been strengthening these same muscles – pushing myself a little harder to make each class better than the one before.

_______________

Kathryn Coughlin is a playwright, dramaturg and teaching artist serving as an Associate Producer for CulturalDC’s Source Festival. Kathryn’s plays include More Than Before, They Say There’s a War Going On, Sounds of Alarm and All We Have. Her work has been developed, produced and read by The Inkwell Theatre,Rorschach Theatre St. Bonaventure University, Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage,The Disreputables and Meat and Bone Theatre Company. As a dramaturg, Kathryn has worked with Source Festival, The DC Queer Theatre Festival, Taffety Punk Theatre Company and Arena Stage. Kathryn has worked as a teaching artist for Creative Kids, The Literacy Lab and John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

Supergirl’s Training Journal

Calling all YPT superheroes!

Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause is officially one month away!  We can’t wait to run with all our friends and supporters on October 14th!

As we enter the final stretch, we’ve recruited the ultimate trainer – our very own Supergirl, YPT’s 8k team leader and star of our recent reality show training video! Supergirl was created by student playwright Dakota Wenberg in her play A Jewel of Date, which was produced in our 2011 New Play Festival and Express Tour. We asked Dakota to bring Supergirl back to help motivate our walkers and runners by sharing her training regimen, and guess what … while Supergirl may be leading all our hardcore 8k competitors, she started out just like everyone else.

 Check out Supergirl’s hilarious and inspirational journey from “Supersoregirl” to race-ready, as imagined by Dakota. Then don’t forget to register for the race on October 14 and support YPT! As Supergirl reminds us, real superheroes aren’t about winning; they are about helping others in superhuman ways!”


Hey everybody!

It’s Supergirl here, ready to get you excited about the upcoming Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause! I will be helping my friends at YPT raise money for their programs. You can follow my progress as I get ready to run hard this fall.

Day 1 – I woke up this morning to the ring of my home phone. I picked it up and who should it be but my friend Laurie down at YPT. She came to me with an urgent plea for a superhero to lead the charge in Acumen Solutions’ Race for a Cause. I immediately agreed. Unfortunately only after I put down the phone did I realize exactly what I had signed up for. I had to run; dad taught me to fly not run. This was going to be much more difficult than I had expected. So who was I supposed to turn to for help? Who was insane enough to run every day up and down brutal hills while torturing their every muscle in their bodies? Who would willfully submit themselves to miles of endless scenery and pain on foot? Then it hit me, like a baseball. I reached for my phone and started dialing furiously. There was only one solution to my problem, the Cross Country team.

Day 2 – 5:30 AM. Sunrises are overrated. Sweat and pain takes all the beauty out of it. The things they don’t tell you at the beginning of practice could fill an entire three part series. For instance wheezing and shortness of breath are not considered signs of a pending heart attack. I had no idea the team was made up of Flash wannabes, I just wanted to finish the race, they wanted to sprint for 5 kilometers or so I gathered from their training regime. You would think that stopping running would stop the pain, but no, it only starts a new cycle of discomfort. I see a hot bath in my future.

Day 3 – 5:30 AM. I can’t do it, I won’t go, they can’t make me. I’m going to hide. Yeah like I’m going back there again. Supergirl? More like Supertiredgirl, Supersoregirl, and Superstupidforsigningupforthisgirl. I made the mistake of telling dad about my promise to YPT and he’s determined to make me go. Right now I’m hiding under the sink in desperate hope that the metal will throw my father’s x-ray vision off. Shh. I hear him coming…. ACK! Caught, think fast. Oh yeah . . . Why am I under the sink?  . . . I was just checking up on the pipes dad! Gotta run.

Day 15 – 5:30 am. I fear that I may have scared my readers off with my apocalyptic tales of running, but now that it’s been about two weeks I’m starting to get the hang of it. My muscles don’t hurt anymore and I can run faster than I ever have before. I’ve elevated my expectations, and I no longer want to simply finish the race, but I want to kick some hiney. I am no longer staggering into the locker room ten minutes after everybody has showered and gone home. The coaches have stopped giving me those sad sympathetic eyes. I remember when dad took me on my first around the world flying trip, it took two hours and twenty minutes, and we almost hit Everest (navigation error a.k.a. dad refused to ask for direction when we got blown off course at the Tien Shan Mountains.) I never thought running could give you the same high as flying. I love this!!!

Day 29 – 8:30 PM. I’ve got ten minutes to lights out. Tomorrow is race day and I need my sleep. Today I pounded carbs all the way up until the big team pasta dinner. Unfortunately I had forgotten what a super human appetite I have and before I knew what was going on I had downed half a pan of baked ziti and two loaves of garlic bread. Lucky for me I blended in with my teammates just fine — have you seen how much teenagers eat?  I am in perfect shape, I am ready. I will win.

Day 30– 5:43 AM. Coach told me I could sleep in until 6:30 before the race but I can’t seem to shake off something Dad said to me last night as I was getting ready to sleep.  He reminded me that real superheroes aren’t about winning; they are about helping others in superhuman ways – like the super organizations that will benefit from Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause.  I let my ambition get the best of me.  Today is not about being number one – today is about helping others be the best they can be.  Today we sweat for others.  Tomorrow they lead us to new superhero heights.

Don’t forget to register for the race by October 11th!  We can’t wait to see you on the 14th!

Training Tips from Flatworm

Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause is now almost six weeks away!  We are so excited to see all the friends and community members who have registered to participate in the race for YPT, and we can’t wait for October.

We’ve been training all summer, but we all know it can be hard to stay motivated.  Luckily we have some important training tips from Flatworm himself, from Flatworm’s Courageous Act, written by student playwright Lauren White and produced in our 2011 New Play Festival and Express Tour. As YPT’s superhero team leader for the 1 Mile Fun Run, we asked Lauren to bring Flatworm back for some extra motivation as we get closer to the race! Check out what Lauren came up with for Flatworm’s special message to our walkers and runners, and don’t forget to register for the race on October 14!

Hello, beings of earth! This is Flatworm, carrying an important message from Young Playwrights’ Theater. The Race for a Cause™ 8k and 1 Mile Fun Run is coming soon, and I’ve got a few tips for you runners, joggers and crawlers!

• Never run too fast in the beginning. This is a long distance to go, just like the four foot wall that I once had to climb.

• Always keep in mind that you CAN lose. It’s good motivation to win!

• Stay hydrated! Drinking enough water is SO important when you’re doing any kind of physical activity. I personally had to learn this the hard way when I didn’t drink enough water before trying to open a bottle of peanut butter. THAT was a big mistake.

Last of all, and perhaps the most obvious of all, try your best! No matter if it’s running in a race, or if it’s defeating an evil villain, trying hard is the #1 way to succeed.

I hope these tips will really help you guys in the race!

Love,

Flatworm