“One in the Chamber” Response Plays

OITC 1
(L to R) Noah Chiet, Dwight Tolar, Adrienne Nelson, Liz Osborn and Danielle Bourgeois in One in the Chamber

In late 2014, former YPT Teaching Artist and longtime supporter Adrienne Nelson approached YPT’s Student Advisory Council with a compelling project. She and her team were launching the DC premiere of One in the Chamber, a new play about children and gun violence, and they wanted the Council to get involved.

Stage Fright-503Seeking young people’s perspectives on guns, the Chamber team invited the Council to write response pieces to the play. Four students wrote pieces, and two were selected for a FREE staged reading after the closing performance on Sunday, September 6.

Read excerpts from the four response plays below, then come to Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint on 9/6 for a gripping performance and free staged reading! The play begins at 8pm, the reading at 9:30pm.

RSVP on Facebook for more information!

Featured Plays

Our Crafted Night, by Cameron Byrd

Cameron ByrdWINNAH: Guns are okay and all– But who’d want a gun as a gift. I’d rather have skates or a bike.

ELENA: I didn’t know you knew how to handle a gun.

WINNAH: I don’t. I’m not even allowed to know where it is in the house. But every time my father goes out hunting, he comes back with dead squirrels, rabbits. Once he even brought back a whole deer. I felt horrible at first, just lying there looking pitiful. But once momma cooked it, it was delicious.

ELENA: Well your father’s rules apply here in the palace too, Winnah. No handling of anything that looks like its dangerous.  And the same goes for Anna too, okay? There’s a lot going on these days, and I want you both to stay safe. Promise me.

WINNAH: Okay, I promise.

The Life and Times of Julie Parker, by Anna Vargas

IMG_8080ANDY (ADULT): They say when you die, your life flashes before your eyes.

LIGHTS UP on JULIE (YOUNG) standing neutral in front of a swingset as ANDY (ADULT) continues to speak from the side of the stage, papers in his hand.

ANDY (ADULT): I find that ridiculous. First of all, if your entire life was condensed into a single flash, a single moment, it would go by so fast you won’t be able to register the fact that it was your life before it would be over. So for this to be true, it would have to be select scenes from your life. But what dictates what parts are chosen? The happiest moments? The moments most crucial to your development as a person? The saddest moments? Your first steps? Your first breath? What could be so important to relive right before you forget it all?

Finalist Plays

Red Cabinet, by Paul McCoyer

Paul McCoyerELIZA: Ben.

BEN: What?

ELIZA: Can you play checkers with me?

BEN: Sure, lemme go get the board…

He exits. ELIZA notices the red cabinet.

ELIZA: (Shouting) Ben!

BEN: (Shouting from offstage) What?

ELIZA: (Shouting) What’s in the red cabinet?

BEN: (Shouting from offstage) I dunno, why don’t you open it if you’re so curious?

ELIZA sighs, gets up from the table, and opens the cabinet door. She removes a small handgun from the cabinet with a mixed look of curiosity and awe and takes it back to the table with her. BEN re­enters.

BEN: Couldn’t find the checkers and (Tone changes to a worried one) WOAH where did you get that??

ELIZA: (Nonchalantly) In the red cabinet.

BEN: (Nervously) You know what that is, right, Liz?

ELIZA: Yeah. It’s a gun. It’s cool.

BEN: No, no, it’s not cool, it’s dangerous, and you need to put it down right now.

Dodge, by Will Larrocca

Will Larroca(MICHAEL is at a bar.)

M: Bourbon.

(ASHLEY walks next to him.)

A: A Budweiser please.

(She glares at him.)

M: Do I know you?

A: No.

M: Then do you mind not glaring at me? (ASHLEY still glares at him.) Oh, I get it. You watch the news.

A: Maybe.

M: So I’m going to guess that you know who I am.

A: Yes.

M: I’m gonna take another guess and say that you don’t like me.

A: (Sarcastically) You’re good at this.

M: Thank you. Well, let’s get this over with. What do you want to say to me?

A: I just want to let you know that I think you should be ashamed of yourself.

M: (Sarcastically) Wow, you think I should be ashamed! That really hurts my feelings. Well, I don’t feel ashamed so you can save that one.

A: Really? You don’t feel any guilt?

M: Nope. I mean, I’m sorry that he died, but I’m not ashamed of anything I did.

For more of these powerful, poignant student-written plays, come to the FREE staged reading on Sunday, September 6 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets. Recommended for ages 13 and up due to adult subject matter.

OITC cast

A New Beginning

Welcome Thembi-67res

Dear YPT family,

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Thembi Duncan and I am YPT’s new Creative Programs Director. I am overjoyed to meet all of you, and to take on a leadership role in an organization I have loved and admired for so long!

Allow me to tell you a bit about myself: I was born and raised in the DC area, studied Theatre at the University of Maryland and have been dedicated to DC’s young people and performing arts community throughout my artistic career here. I began as an actor, then transitioned into playwriting, teaching and producing—though I still find myself on stage every so often. 🙂 Before coming to YPT, I was the Lead Teaching Artist at Ford’s Theatre, the Producing Artistic Director of the African Continuum Theatre Company and a co-founder of UMD’s Black Theatre Symposium.

YPT Company
YPT actors from long ago!

When I was first getting my start in DC theater, I met an up-and-coming playwright named Karen Zacarías, who told me about a new arts education nonprofit she had founded called Young Playwrights’ Theater. Before she could even finish explaining it to me, I was hooked. The idea of creating avenues for young people to freely express themselves, and then hiring professional actors to realize their visions, spoke to me on so many levels: as an artist, a black woman and a new mother, I saw right away the potential for YPT to transform young peoples’ lives. “Where do I sign up?” I asked. Karen Evans, YPT’s Managing Director at that time, was another huge influence on my decision to contribute my talents to the nurturing of young playwrights.

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Reading my piece at Silence Is Violence

For the next several years, I worked on and off with YPT, performing student-written plays alongside such DC theatre luminaries as Jefferson Russell and KenYatta Rogers. My crowning achievement as a YPT actor came when I was cast as Lil’ Red in Lil’ Red in Da Hood, a YPT Communitywrites! production that we performed at the Carnegie Institute of Washington and the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Since then, I have stayed involved with YPT in an artistic capacity, most recently reading a poem I wrote at Silence Is Violence, YPT’s inspiring #BlackLivesMatter community event.

Though, over the last few years, my career has taken me away from working directly with YPT, the organization and the young people it serves have always been near and dear to my heart. Thus, when I found out that YPT was hiring a Creative Programs Director, I jumped at the chance! This truly is a dream job for me, as it not only combines my two great loves—theater and education—but it also gives me a chance to make a difference in the lives of DC’s young people, every single day.

Tubman Beaut Day 2015-8
Volunteering at Tubman Elementary School with my daughter, Nadia

I am truly grateful to the YPT team for entrusting me with this mission, and to the YPT family for supporting this work for over 20 years. I cannot wait to meet the young playwrights of the 2015-16 In-School Playwriting Program, dive into our 2015-16 performance season and help plan exciting new collaborations with students and artists across DC and beyond! Stick around—it’s going to be a great year.

Again, it is a great honor to be a part of this terrific organization, and I look forward to accomplishing great things together. I hope to meet each and every one of you at our upcoming performances and events!

All my best,

Thembi Duncan
Creative Programs Director,
Young Playwrights’ Theater

Welcome Thembi-53res