Introducing our 20th Anniversary Festival partners!

20Fest logo FINAL

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!

Wows, Wonders and Lessons From The 524 Project

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The 524 Project’s DC students take a bow after their Final Performance.

About a year ago, YPT teamed up with Detroit-based arts educator InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO) and DC documentary film company Meridian ImageHill Pictures (MHP) to create The 524 Project, a cross-country collaboration that connected a class at Ballou Senior High School in Washington, DC with one at Western International High School in Detroit.

Named after the 524 miles separating DC and Detroit, The 524 Project brought the two schools together for a hybrid curriculum of poetry, playwriting and media arts. Students met weekly during the spring semester of 2014 to create works of art investigating and challenging dominant narratives of the cities each call home.

Using writing prompts such as “I Am [City Name]”, “My Art Is So Loud”, and City-to-City Love Letters, The 524 Presentation 7Project encouraged these young people to rethink stereotypes of both DC and Detroit, and to speak out on behalf of their neighborhoods, their cities and themselves.

Then, they shared their voices with each other! Equipped with iPads, basic video editing software and free Google Hangouts, 524 Project students recited poems and asked each other questions via recorded videos and live online exchanges. The Project culminated in a simultaneous, live-streamed multimedia Final Presentation of student work, that introduced the larger communities of DC and Detroit to the powerful insights of the young people in both cities.

 

Now that The 524 Project is all but over, we asked some of the staff members responsible for the program to reflect back on the journey. Here are some of the Wows (highlights), Wonders (questions) and Lessons that came out of this amazing, challenging, inspiring process!

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ImageLaurie Ascoli, Program Manager, Young Playwrights’ Theater

Wows: The trip to Detroit last October was totally amazing. I’d already been to and fallen in love with the city itself, so being back there was really exciting. But even better was getting to hang out with YPT and iO artists for four days and explore ideas, brainstorm, write poetry, make journals for each other, create performance pieces, study art. We’re all artists, but I feel like that often gets buried under the day-to-day logistics of running an organization. It was really amazing to just sit together and explore, deeply, the creative impulses that drive us to do what we do. It felt like a retreat back into the center of our mission.

Wonders: Technology is a relatively simple and truly incredible way to connect people from all over the world, people who never would have interacted otherwise. But what do you do when not everyone has easy access to this technology? Despite its growing presence, access to the Internet is still something that is largely only available to developed, financially secure communities, so a huge percentage of the population that we could be communicating with and learning from is shut out from these opportunities. How can we change that?

Lessons: With a project this ambitious, I think it can be easy to lose track of how, specifically and directly, the students are benefiting from it. We always aim to keep students at the center of everything we do, but between negotiating with two other organizations and two schools, dealing with unreliable technology, and tracking our progress for a major funder, the students themselves can easily get lost in the shuffle. It’s important to continually come back to them and remember that they are the soul of the project, and the reason for all the other logistical madness.

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ImageLance Kramer, Executive Director, Meridian Hill Pictures

Wows: One of the major challenges when working on a media project with any new community can be openness to embracing something new. Typically it’s not just learning new technology or a new tool, but also adopting a new way to think about storytelling. In the case of The 524 Project, we introduced iPads, video capture, and exchange software, as well as social media platforms that were new to most team members at the onset of the project. We were completely humbled and wow-ed by people’s enthusiasm for working with unfamiliar creative tools. Team members embraced the discomfort, handled setbacks admirably, and emerged with a new set of skills and appreciation for the technology. In a sense, the project staff were students as well – I would say they earned an A+.

Wonders: I wonder what could have been done to more directly provide our actual students with strategies for employing the 524 Project tools in their own artwork after the class concluded. As staff, we were still learning the technology as the project was in progress and figuring out how to master it ourselves. So it was definitely more challenging to pass the torch to our students. By having more time before the launch of the project for dedicated staff trainings, we could have alleviated some of these stresses. But I also think that the newness of the whole concept meant that there would be a good deal of figuring out along the way, no matter how much prep time was carved out. As the dust settles following the final performance, I do wonder how the students will become ambassadors of the lessons learned from The 524 Project. What will they pass on to their friends and family? And what are the breadcrumbs we’ve all left for the future?

Lessons: It sounds simple enough, but having an exceptional understanding of your limitations was a major lesson learned during the project. In our ambition and excitement to just do it, I think we may have lost some sight of what was actually possible within the time and technological constraints we were given. In future projects, we may consider how to be slightly less ambitious with the technology in favor of deepening our ability to train partner project staff to build their own mastery and ownership of the process. The idea of structuring a collaboration as more of a professional-development type relationship may not have quite as many bells and whistles, but it could lead to a more sustainable structure that imparts more lasting knowledge.

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ImageShawntai Brown, Writer-in-Residence, InsideOut Literary Arts Project

Wows: The big wow moment for me was seeing the Detroit students go from being critics of their hometown with opinions shaped by the media, to having a newfound sense of city pride. Through their research and writing, students became vocally more confident in their city, neighborhood, school, and even D.C.  Also, by running a multidisciplinary program (writing, filming, acting, researching), each student found ways to be involved – even those who had struggled with classroom participation prior to 524.

Wonders: I wonder if we could have made better use of the technology by encouraging more one-on-one youth interaction since video conferencing as a group was sometimes troublesome. I would have loved to see one or two D.C. and one or two Detroit students craft a group poem or play scene together, or simply interview each other. I also wonder if having longer classroom periods (1.5-2 hour sessions multiple times a week), or having had the in-class programming start earlier would have allowed students more hands-on experience with the technology (the cameras and editing software were mostly used by the staff).

Lessons: Students are easily frustrated if there are breaks in the flow of the lesson. Technology was a challenge we were determined to conquer, and sometimes the battle between humans and iPad interrupted the flow of class. Lesson: always have an engaging plan B and tech-savvy staff on hand for mishaps. It’s also fair to be honest with students about what challenges are occurring. Many of our students knew how to bypass blocked web pages needed for instruction, connect the projector, adjust speaker volume, etc. Learners are great resources! Also, many students showed great leadership toward the end of the project. In hindsight, identifying, developing, and utilizing class leaders early on would have benefitted the class when one-on-one attention from the staff was stretched.

For more lessons learned from The 524 Project, click here!

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The 524 Project was made possible by the generous support of the Metlife/TCG A-Ha Program, whose Think It, Do It grants enable theaters and other arts organizations to experiment with new forms of collaboration and creative problem-solving. Without the A-Ha Program, there would be no 524!

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For more from The 524 Project, please visit our Tumblr blog, where we have recorded every step of the process, as well as some of the best moments from our classes in DC and Detroit. One of the main goals of The 524 Project was to establish a model for other organizations around the world to follow – so please, Steal Our Ideas!

A Day at the Canadian Embassy with YPT

Reflections from a YPT Board Member

A few weeks ago, I spent time at the Canadian Embassy with some of our YPT students and fifteen students from Suchitoto, El Salvador, and it was fabulous!

With our Program Manager Nicole Jost acting as their teaching artist, the two groups of students worked together to develop four skits in about three hours, which they performed for Embassy officials and the other conference attendants. Watching these students in action was a truly powerful and exciting experience! Although there was a language barrier, the kids bonded immediately through their love of theater. The work they created was fun, vibrant and full of great physical energy. And most importantly, the students connected.

At the end of the show, they shared that they had learned that many things were possible, they had more in common than differences and that cultural awareness and understanding can be achieved through the arts. You could feel the positive vibe pulsating in the room. The collaboration was mind-blowing. So, it reminded me why I love YPT so much. It’s an experience that will live with these kids (and me) forever. And, it is the type of global education experience our young people need more of to build bridges across cultures and solve problems creatively and peacefully. Also, I was so proud of our YPT staff – everyone did such an outstanding job bringing this project to life.

After seeing that energy in the kids, I felt energized! Just feels great to be part of such an incredible nonprofit and to be a part of this fabulous Board.

Miriam Gonzales
Vice Chair, YPT Board of Directors

Reflections from a YPT Student

Walking into a room full of voices from a different tongue is intimidating. Or at least it was until this unique experience, when the assumption that we would be divided by that one difference quickly changed.

Together we made a circle and started to learn about one another, our names. Then we moved into groups where the wrong mindset would have been to the detriment of what we were supposed to create. However, our one difference was quickly dissolved by the many similarities we had in common.

We are all humans, we love theater, and we perform. Being a student and watching a barrier disintegrate was amazing. One of the students from Suchitoto said something close to, “I wanted to come here and I thought I would need English, but because of what we all believe in, I don’t have to.”

I guess actions do speak louder than words.

Amber Faith Walton
YPT Student


What We Value: The Young Playwrights’ Workshop

I started working with the after-school Young Playwrights’ Workshop last spring. Our students inspired me. (It was not surprising – our students inspire me constantly.) Here was a group of people that were so supportive of one another, so courageous with their art form, so happy to share their thoughts and dreams. Basically, they were a functioning ensemble. It worked.

I wanted to understand how it worked. I’m sure everyone has, at some point in their lives, tried to work together with nine or ten other people and failed. So what was the Workshop doing differently? What was their secret?

I asked them, and here’s what they said:

“We may not all have the same opinions on certain subjects, but the key ingredient that holds us together is respect.”

“We agree on not making fun of people.”

“I love hearing a different approach to the same topic! It’s so wonderful to see something in someone else’s point of view.”

I continued to mull over these responses during the summer. The students were right on about their success. But could it be replicated? I was scared and excited to take over leading the Workshop in the fall. What if this dynamic had been a fluke? What if we couldn’t make it work without the seniors who had gone on to college? What if, what if, what if.

What was needed was a way to inspire the new Workshop the same way last year’s students inspired me. We needed to name what was important, and to agree on what we were working towards. As excited as everyone was about the product (the performance in June), it was just as important to have a rewarding process. How did the Workshop want to get where it was going?

Again, all I had to do was ask. I borrowed from Michael Rohd’s excellent book Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue, leading the new and returning students in a values clarification exercise. I read various statements and asked the students to move to a different spot in the room, depending on whether they agreed, disagreed, or were unsure. I found out where there was consensus and where there was discord. For example, I read: “I am here to make friends.” There were different opinions in the group. Some students disagreed, saying that they preferred to focus on achieving the goal of performance. Others spoke to their experience in the workforce, saying that you don’t have to be best friends with someone to get a job done. On the other hand, some students expressed that friendships can help with collaboration – when you know someone well you can communicate easily. The point of the exercise is not to debate each statement, just to understand the different points of view that are present in the room. (In that way the exercise fit in with the reflections of last year’s ensemble.)

I also asked students to write towards this question of values individually. I ended up with a wealth of raw material to draw from, and only needed to give it shape. The ensemble unanimously approved these values on October 19. These are the values that the Workshop will strive to live out this year:

  • Respect: We are a team. We treat every member of the team with respect, and we embrace each other’s differences. It is never okay to make fun of someone’s idea.
  • Collaboration: We work together by making a thread. We each add a little piece of fiber and in the end we get this rope. We are all linked together by this passion that brings us understanding and abundant knowledge about each other and our world.
  • Freedom of Expression: We want this program to be a place where a person can freely express their opinions. All ideas are important. All ideas are considered.
  • Evolution: We are here to grow as writers and actors.
  • Commitment: We depend on each other as a team. We each take pride in our own work and the work of the whole group. We always try our best.
  • Impact: We want people to be inspired by our work. We will create theater that is relevant to our community, and will make people think.
  • Fun: This is not school, and it shouldn’t feel like school. We are here to have fun!

The values are posted on the walls of the studio for everyone to see. I asked the students to sign contracts, agreeing to uphold these values, and to hold each other to them as well. And that includes me! I hope that if I become boring, someone will just raise their hand and point to “Fun.” That’ll teach me.

If you want to join the Workshop, click here. We’d love to have you.

Nicole
Program Manager

So…Should We Build the Good Neighbor?

As I watched the Express Tour Showcase for the fourth time on Saturday night, I was amazed that I could still find something new and exciting to anticipate in the show. Of course I still enjoyed seeing Alex Perez flounce around the stage as a bully in Love, Math, and Martians Don’t Mix, watching Alex Vernon pluck a kimono out of thin air in The Bird of One Thousand Colors, and seeing Dawn Thomas wave her finger in attitude-laden bewilderment as a seventh grader in The Good Neighbor, but in the end, the part of the show I waited for every night was the moment when the audience became part of the performance.

In case you didn’t get a chance to see it, The Good Neighbor is a play produced in collaboration with Fannie Mae’s Help the Homeless Program, structured as a community meeting to discuss the building of a transitional housing facility in our neighborhood. The actors on stage each represent a character, speaking words inspired by YPT-led workshops at shelters, transitional housing facilities and schools around DC. Once the characters have expressed their perspectives, the meeting facilitator (played by Wendy Nogales), opens the conversation up to the audience. As a result, every performance is different. At one performance, a little girl told Mr. Best (a character who does not want the transitional housing facility to be built), that his argument was irrational, because people are people and they deserve to have a place to live. At another performance, audience members asked a series of very specific questions about how to get into the facility, perhaps believing that such a place was actually being built. At another, a young man shared his own story of growing up homeless with his drug-addicted mother as a child, and the role of a transitional housing facility in his family’s stability now. In the end, every conversation was different, every performance was different, and the number of votes for or against the facility was different. However, at each Showcase performance, the audience voted to build The Good Neighbor.

I am curious to know how the Express Tour is received differently at each stop on its run (through December). Performing the play in front of folks at nursing homes, elementary schools, and community centers, I imagine that people bring forth drastically different points, questions, and observations. Perhaps the vote to build or not to build The Good Neighbor also ends differently. I hope that some audiences are frustrated or angered by the characters and discussions. I hope they keep talking after the performance is over. That’s what a good play does—it gets people talking. Even if they are frustrated by the things characters say, they are thinking. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me, but I love that this play provides a space to include this dissent and anger within the structure of the performance itself. That makes it pretty great in my book.

If you saw the play (and even if you didn’t), I would love to hear your thoughts! What angered you? Inspired you? Which characters did you identify with? Would you build a transitional housing facility in YOUR neighborhood? Leave your comments below to keep the conversation going, or write your own response and we will post it here on the blog! A play is only as good as the conversation that follows, so keep it going!

Raina
Community Engagement Associate

Nicole Reflects on Summer at YPT

Summer is kind of a weird time for YPT. School’s out, but we’re still here. There’s stuff going on – the Woodlawn project, a great program with Horizons at Maret, our collaboration with Fannie Mae’s Help the Homeless Program – but it’s not nearly as busy as it will be again in September. During the summer, there’s a lot of time to think. Patrick Torres (our Associate Artistic Director) and I are spending a lot of time thinking together about the YPT curricula. Every summer we create a mountain of work for ourselves by refusing to rest until this program is perfect, and refusing to settle for good enough.

Fortunately we have help. We have a lot of vehicles for getting feedback. While school is in session, teaching artists send me workshop reports every week. They let me know what went well and what went wrong. Then we have an official post mortem where we talk through everything, workshop by workshop. We also pass out surveys to the students to find out what they think of YPT’s program. (New and improved student survey: in the works!) Teachers evaluate us too. My job as Program Manager is to synthesize all of this information so we can refine what we do, based on what everyone wants.

It’s exciting. The luxury of time means the luxury to dream. We question everything we think we know. We see the big picture and identify priorities. One of the coolest things we’ve come up with as a goal is that students will have more fun this year. Because writing is fun! Expressing yourself is fun! Being creative is fun! And fun is important. I believe we should be fostering a love of learning in our students. In 20 years, it’s less important that they remember the difference between a monologue and a dialogue, and more important that they remember how awesome it was when they heard their play read by professional actors.

So if any of our future students are reading, you should know that we’re going to plan the heck out of this curriculum. I won’t rest until you are having fun.

Nicole
Program Manager

Arts Education Conference Coming in June!

by Gabby Randle

Hey there Arts Educators,

Here is an amazing opportunity to sharpen your teaching artist skills and hang out with other like minded education leaders from around the country.

Check out the Americans for the Arts Half Century Summit’s Arts Education Pre Conference (June 24). The full summit is June 25-27, but there are two days of Pre Conference devoted to several fields including arts education.

With a focus on sustainable, student-centered arts education this pre conference is designed to facilitate collaboration between arts education professionals. This will be an action oriented forum that aims at appealing to our top decision makers to move arts education into a place of priority in education funding and research. The goal is to have participants leave with the ability to develop support for arts education in their own communities.

Check out an interview with keynote speaker Derrick Ashong and respond to the Green Paper on arts education available on ARTSblog.

Scholarships are still available!

http://convention.artsusa.org/

Have any of you attended Americans for the Arts’ annual conference before? How was it?