Ready…Set…Give to the Max for YPT!

I grew up in the era of computers and technology. I order pizza online, take pictures with my phone and post them on Facebook, text instead of calling, and use Google as my go-to. But despite this, I sometimes still feel hopelessly behind the times, as technology, gadgets and social media continue to explode. Confession: when posting a recent update on YPT’s Twitter, I texted my Twitter-savvy younger sister asking about the difference between #something and @something. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up.

So I’m continually impressed by how businesses, non-profits and even the government have embraced this new era, finding innovative ways to use social media to their advantage and as a tool for positive action. And that’s why I am so excited about the gigantic community fundraising event happening TODAY, November 9, 2011, through the entire Greater Washington region.

Today, thousands of area residents are banding together to show their support for their favorite nonprofits during Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington. Give to the Max Day is a huge one-day online fundraising event that will unite Maryland, Virginia and DC communities to support local nonprofits through 24 hours of charitable giving. Give to the Max Day has the potential to raise $3 million for local charities, all online, within 24 hours.  That’s the power of the Internet for you.

Give to the Max Day is a truly a testament to how organizations can harness the power of social media as a force for positive change within an entire community, showing our local non-profits that even in these tough times, we are committed to supporting them. It’s all over Twitter, Facebook, websites, blogs and even DC buses. People are getting excited and organizations are harnessing this energy and building up their armies of support.

Here at YPT we are pumped up. We love social media, and we love our fans. You guys “like” our photos (even those crazy ones of the staff in our Halloween costumes), participate in YPTrivia and read about our achievements and student stories. We know we have the best online community of supporters in the region. Can we prove it to the rest of DC?

On November 9th, every online donation and donor we get through Give to the Max Day will help thousands of YPT students discover the power and value of their voices and stories through arts education. But we can only succeed with your help. Will you help YPT go to the top?

Give to the Max Day is happening RIGHT NOW. It’s going to be huge. How can YOU help?

  • Log on to YPT’s Give to the Max Giving Page NOW to make your contribution of $10 or more to YPT. Every dollar and every donor has an impact.
  • Share your support for Give to the Max and YPT on your social media pages and follow YPT on Facebook and Twitter for updates during the event. Be our champion, recruit your friends and cheer us to the top!
  • Then, sit back and celebrate with us, and know that you played a crucial role in helping us invest in the next generation of great American innovators — and prepare our amazing students for success.

And don’t forget to come to our Express Tour Showcase on MONDAY to see your contribution in action! All GTM donors will receive a special thanks in the program, and you’ll enjoy three hilarious and insightful students plays, along with the requisite yummy treats. November 14, 7:30pm, GALA Hispanic Theatre, FREE.

Okay, YPT friends. In the words of Supergirl, “It’s go time!”  Ready, set, GIVE!

Alison
Development and Producing Associate

Calling All Designers: Innovate for YPT

YPT is excited to announce our first ever t-shirt design contest!

We are looking for designs that capture the idea of “Innovation through Arts Education.” The winning design will be announced on November 7, 2011.

Innovation through Arts Education, huh? So what does that mean? As President Barack Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union address, “To win the future, America needs to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world.” At YPT, we know our students will not “win the future” by correctly answering multiple choice questions on standardized tests. We are committed to teaching our students to innovate, so they’re ready for the challenges of tomorrow, giving them the tools they need to think critically, solve problems creatively and share their ideas clearly with the rest of the world.

As YPT launches our first-ever online store, we are looking for a flagship t-shirt design that captures the message and the promise of “Innovation through Arts Education,” to spread the word about the importance of keeping the arts in the classroom.

Our Mission
Young Playwrights’ Theater teaches students to express themselves clearly and creatively through the art of playwriting.

Through interactive in-school and after-school programs, YPT activates student learning and inspires students to understand the power of language and realize their potential as both individuals and artists. By publicly presenting and discussing student-written work, YPT promotes community dialogue and respect for young artists.

How It Works

  1. Create a beautiful design that captures YPT’s mission and commitment to Innovation through Arts Education!
  2. Create a mockup of the t-shirt with your design.
  3. Email lharbison@yptdc.org your design, along with this form, with the subject line “YPT T-Shirt Contest”. Submissions are due on Thursday, October 27.
  4. The YPT staff will choose our three favorite designs and post the finalists on Facebook for a public vote based on number of “likes”!
  5. The winning design will be sold in YPT’s CafePress store and worn by staff and supporters to promote our Innovation through Arts Education campaign. The winning designer will also receive a free t-shirt featuring his/her design, a feature interview article featuring his/her design work in an upcoming addition of The YPT Wire (reaching 3,000 readers), and front row seats and public recognition from the stage during YPT’s Express Tour Showcase on November 14, 2011.
  6. Every t-shirt sold will raise $5 for YPT, and help spread the word about the importance of keeping the arts in the classroom.

Design Rules

  • Your design must be sent as a vector graphic or actual size JPEG (minimum resolution 300 DPI).
  • Designs should complement YPT’s existing branding and support our mission. YPT orange is #F8971D (RGB: 248, 151, 29; CMYK: 0, 48, 100, 0). YPT purple is #5D2070 (RGB: 93, 32, 112; CMYK: 63, 95, 0, 30).
  • You may use YPT’s company logo and the Innovation through Arts Education logo within, or as inspiration for your design, but this is not a requirement.
  • All designs should be for a white t-shirt. Designs should fit within a square on the chest of the shirt, and no part of the design can be on the sleeves, shoulders or stomach.
  • YPT assumes all entries are the work and property of the entrant, with all rights granted therein.
  • You can submit more than one design, but only one of your designs will be eligible for the final voting round.
  • YPT Staff will choose three designs based on originality, effective visualization and communication of “Innovation through Arts Education” and completeness of design.

Have fun innovating!

Liza
Communications and Graphic Design Associate

Kicking Off YPT’s Sixteenth Season

This past week, on a wet, chilly Monday, YPT welcomed our supporters, students, teachers and community members out of the cold and into GALA Hispanic Theatre for the kick-off of our SIXTEENTH season with New Writers Now!The Fight for Family, featuring three inspiring new student plays exploring issues and relationships within families (check out the event photos on Facebook here).  After a celebratory pre-reception featuring some amazing French mini-desserts (sampling each one was a necessity), the audience was invited into three very different families – a large, close-knit Latino family struggling with a cycle of infidelity, a son who decides to join the military against his parents’ wishes and a young girl working multiple jobs and struggling to raise her sick little brother, while trying to keep up a positive attitude.  The plays were all different, but all tied perfectly into our overarching question for the night: “What would you do for your family?”

During the post-show talkback, the playwrights were asked about the inspiration for their plays. Jessy Deleon said that he wanted to show the impact that infidelity can have on a family from the kid’s perspective; astutely noting that often books, movies and TV shows don’t focus on how infidelity affects other members of the family.  Reyna Rios said that she wanted to write a play that would make people feel uplifted after seeing it; and her play did have an almost fairy tale-like ending, where the kind and hard-working young woman who befriends an elderly woman is left enough money to pay for her brother’s medical expenses, while the spoiled and rude granddaughter is left with nothing.

I was incredibly impressed, as always, by our young playwrights. I especially admire how they took the original assignment – to write a play about anything – and chose to tackle issues that hit close to home for many people, in hopes of inspiring reflection and perhaps even change among their audiences.

I was also viewing this performance from a different light: this past summer, the YPT staff participated in a playwriting challenge where we wrote our own plays and had some of our amazing actors perform them.  It was HARD.  Even as someone who enjoys writing and has taken playwriting courses in the past, the prospect of writing a completely original play and having it read in front of others was daunting and at times incredibly stressful. The experience really hit home how brave our student playwrights are, and watching the plays on Monday night, with our staff activity fresh in my mind, I was filled with admiration. Not only did these playwrights write touching original plays and were courageous enough to share them with an entire audience (including some total strangers), they also each tackled difficult issues in hopes of really impacting their audience.

If Monday night’s performance was any indication, we have a fantastic season ahead of us! Our next performance will be the Express Tour Showcase on Monday, November 14th, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, with the possibility of an even more exciting dessert selection – although it’s going to be hard to top the mini pastries.  Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Alison
Development and Producing Associate

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

YPTimeMachine…

As we count down to YPT’s big fifteenth birthday celebration next week (Come share birthday cake with us at the Express Tour Showcase, November 3-6!), we would like to take you on a journey into the past – all the way back to 1995, the very first year of Young Playwrights’ Theater.

In 1995 Karen Zacarias returned home to Washington, DC with an MFA in Playwriting from Boston University and a desire to use her art to make a difference in her community. She began volunteering her time providing free playwriting workshops to students at Bell Multicultural High School and Fillmore Arts Center. By 1997, Karen’s workshops were so successful that she incorporated Young Playwrights’ Theater as a nonprofit organization, employing a full-time staff and teaching playwriting and theater arts at schools and community centers throughout DC. Fifteen years later, in 2010, YPT is a nationally recognized theater education company, serving 1,000 students annually throughout the Washington, DC region.

1995 was quite a year. The cost of a gallon of gas was $1.09, the Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress, Brave Heart won the Academy Award for Best Picture, O.J. Simpson was found innocent, POGs were voted most popular toy, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was Album of the Year, Jerry Garcia died, and the Atlanta Braves won the World Series. Over the next week, YPT will take you back in time to 1995, celebrating the good, the bad, the inspiring and the just-plain-hilarious of the early ‘90s.

To kick things off, we are pleased to present some juicy gems from the personal history of YPT’s staff. You saw it here first, folks – the fifteen-year-old professional biographies of YPT’s current company members…

David Snider, Producing Artistic Director and CEO
In 1995, David is a professional actor in New York, having just finished a season Off-Broadway with the Jean Cocteau Repertory, including The Cherry Orchard, Hamlet, The Country Wife and the US premier of Napoli Milionaria. Recently chosen by legendary producer Rosemarie Tischler to be in the inaugural class of the Shakespeare Lab at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, David is spending the summer training with Christopher Walken, F. Murray Abraham, Bill Irwin and Irene Worth, among others. He’s praised in an article written by a new writer on theatre for the New York Times, Peter Marks. He hopes to attend the NYU Graduate Acting Program next year. He often temps to pay the bills, spending his days photocopying and faxing – and dreaming of the days when he’ll do something more meaningful with his life. Whenever possible, he tries to look busy – while getting paid to read Shakespeare at his desk.  He’s quickly realizing that he really wants to be in charge.

Patrick Torres, Associate Artistic Director
In 1995, Patrick is busy managing all of his futile crushes and dreaming of getting out of Odessa, Texas. He is proud of his decision to boycott prom and is looking forward to college where people see theater as a valid art form and the ratio of females to males is 5 to 1. To this day he remains a dreamer.

 

 

Brigitte Pribnow Moore, Development Director
In 1995, Brigitte lives in Connecticut with her mom, two brothers, a dog, two cats, two gerbils, a rabbit, and a hermit crab named Dennis Nedry. An over-eager seventh grader, Brigitte recently voluntarily turned in an unassigned book report on Les Miserables (the unabridged version). She dreams of participating in the eighth grade field trip to Washington, DC, where she hopes to visit the love of her life, Fox Mulder, in the basement of the FBI building.

Nicole Jost, Program Manager
In 1995, Nicole is a student at Janney Elementary School in Washington, DC. She enjoys spending recess sharing secrets with her best friend, a.k.a. “dishing up stuff.” She is a feminist and a semi-vegetarian, and her favorite food is anything made out of chocolate. Her greatest wish is to be 17, when she knows she will have a cute boyfriend and have figured out her whole life.

Raina Fox, Community Engagement Associate
In 1995, Raina enjoys climbing trees, being out in the Portland rain, making crafts, camping, and putting on plays with her friends and siblings. She is currently working on her first screenplay, based on the board game “Candyland” and featuring several original songs never to be released. An avid reader and artist, Raina is honing her creative skills to become a children’s book author/illustrator when she gets older. Her favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time, which she reads under her desk during math class, knowing that ultimately this knowledge will prove far more useful than multiplication tables. She is correct.

Liza Harbison, Communications and Graphic Design Assistant
In 1995, Liza is hard at work learning cursive after a successful education in coloring inside the lines. She enjoys rollerblading, playing Oregon Trail and making forts out of blankets and chairs. Liza hopes to one day own 50 dogs and work with orangutans. Not much will change.

 

 

 

Alison Beyrle, Development Assistant
In 1995, Alison has just begun third grade at Janney Elementary School.  She is involved in activities such as soccer and Brownies, and recent accomplishments include selling enough Girl Scout cookies to earn a t-shirt and writing a story with chapters in her class writing workshop.  In her free time Alison enjoys reading, especially Babysitters Club books, writing, soccer, drawing, watching Legends of the Hidden Temple on Nickelodeon, and baking with her E-Z Bake Oven.  Next up, Alison will be moving to the Czech Republic thanks to her parents, who work for the Foreign Service.  She writes them an angry letter protesting this move, but will probably end up appreciating it years later.

Laurie Ascoli, Program Assistant
In 1995, Laurie lives in Rhode Island with her parents, big brother and new kitten, Casey.  She dreams of being an author one day and has already received two awards for her novella “The Journal of a Stuffed Pig” as well as for the “Just Say No” play she wrote for her DARE class and performed at an assembly.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading the Babysitters’ Club series, watching TGIF, playing Donkey Kong Country on Super Nintendo, and pretending to be Harriet the Spy.  She is delighted to announce that she will be making her stage debut in the fall as Melinda in Inherit the Wind, performed by the Middletown High School drama club and directed by her dad.

Feeling brave? We dare you to send us your photos and memories from 1995 (Email to bmoore@yptdc.org!). The best submissions will be displayed in the lobby on the opening night of the Express Tour Showcase, on November 6.

Brigitte
Development Director

YPT Explores Homelessness in DC

This year Young Playwrights’ Theater is working in partnership with Fannie Mae and their Help the Homeless program to create an original play about the issue of homelessness in the Washington metro area. In the coming weeks, we will be implementing workshops at transitional housing facilities and several public schools to discover the many perspectives, feelings and beliefs surrounding this issue that will find their way into our play. Last night, we conducted our very first workshop at Community of Hope, and we were absolutely blown away by the residents there. We had a group of seven women and their children. The first workshop requires participants to play a role in a made-up drama concerning citizens at a town hall meeting who are deciding whether or not to allow a transitional housing facility to move into their neighborhood. Each person is given a character to play in the fictional community, many of whom disagree with the initiative. Since this was our first workshop, we were unsure if our partners would be willing to voice opposition to a transitional housing facility, but the participants played their roles with vigor and honesty. We had quite a debate for our guided drama, and in the end, the community voted to have the “Good Neighbor Transitional Housing Facility” built in their neighborhood. After the play concluded, we reflected on it and asked the participants to speak openly about the varying opinions of the characters they just enacted. They spoke candidly about the way homeless people are stereotyped and the injustice of writing off the problem as drug abuse, mental illness or apathy. Needless to say we were honored to work with these remarkable women and look forward to the rest of our workshops related to this project.

Please start making plans right now to come see this play at our Express Tour Showcase November 3 through November 6. If the experience of last night is any indication of the depth and sincerity we will meet over the next month of conducting these workshops, then you do not want to miss this showcase!

Patrick
Associate Artistic Director