“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

Introducing YPT’s Race for a Cause™ Superhero Teams!

Have you heard the exciting news?

This fall, YPT is thrilled to be partnering with Acumen Solutions for their 4th Annual Race for a Cause™ 8K and 1Mile Fun Run race on October 14, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia!

 YPT was selected as one of ten charities benefitting from the race. It’s up to each runner (or enthusiastic walker!) to pick which charity your participation will benefit … and the more people who register to run for YPT, the more funding we receive!

So you’re one of our amazing supporters and you want to help out.  But a competitive race? At YPT we’re all very excited to be participating in the Race for a Cause but – confession time — we’re not what you’d call competitive, or even recreational, runners.  Guess what … you don’t have to be!

Whatever your level of fitness, you can participate in the Race for a Cause™, and we will be cheering you all the way to the finish line, with the help of some very special motivators.

Acumen is inviting everyone to “Be a Superhero” just by running for a charity, so we thought that this exciting challenge called for some of our own favorite superheroes! Check out the three fun YPT teams you can join, each led by an inspirational YPT superhero. Once you register for the race, email abeyrle@yptdc.org or post on our Facebook page to let us know which team you’re joining, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and this blog throughout the summer for team updates, photos, videos, quotes and stories featuring our team leaders as we get pumped up for October!

(Note: Our superhero team levels are YPT-specific, so when registering you’ll have two options: the 1 mile or the 8k. But you can register for the 8k planning to run competitively or walk/run – there’s no time limit for completion, and no rule that says you must run the whole time!)

TEAM SUPERGIRL

Team Leader: Supergirl (from A Jewel of a Date by Dakota Wenberg) #teamsupergirl

So you’re ready to run!  Maybe you’re a marathon runner who eats 8ks for breakfast. Or maybe you’re a regular runner and ready to take it to the next level.  With Supergirl as your team leader, we’ll help you win the race in the morning, save the world’s most expensive diamond in the afternoon, and still have time for a date with Jake in the evening! Join Supergirl and YPT staff members Alison and Pete, and register to run the 8k (and claim your share of over $2,000 in prizes, awarded to top race winners!)  And know that 5 miles is further than Alison has ever run in her life, so you’re guaranteed to at least beat her.

TEAM MAGNET DUDE

Team Leader: Magnet Dude (from Magnet Dude by Kyrtham Franco) #teammagnetdude

So you’re a recreational runner who logs a few miles in your neighborhood, but you aren’t sure about running an 8k. Or maybe you just enjoy really long, athletic walks.  Magnet Dude is here to help you successfully complete your very first 8k!  When you register for the 8k you can plan to “run/walk” like YPT staff members Brigitte and Nicole.  Whatever pace you choose, we’ll be there to cheer you on as you cross the finish line!

TEAM FLATWORM

Team Leader: Flatworm (From Flatworm’s Courageous Act by Lauren White) #teamflatworm

So you’re not a runner. Nothing wrong with that! Maybe participating in a race is as intimidating to you as climbing that peanut brittle wall was for Flatworm.  But Flatworm conquered his fear, and so can you! Register for the 1 mile format – it’s a great option for those who’d prefer a relaxing walk, as well as for families and young runners. No training needed — although Flatworm will be sharing tips for power walking for our one-milers, including staff members Liza and Laurie! Your registration still helps us win funds to help more students, and on race day you’ll get to watch all those sweaty 8k-ers cross the finish line while basking in the healthy glow of your one-mile stroll.

So pick your team, and click here to register now! All runners get a race shirt (or cape if you’d prefer!) and Acumen is offering a special early bird rate if you register before August 1. The race will take place at 8am on Sunday, October 14, 2012 in Arlington, Virgina (easily metro accessible). For more information about the race, click here.

No matter how you choose to participate, you’ll be helping YPT win the funds we need to say “yes” to more deserving classrooms this school year and serve more students than ever before with free, innovative playwriting and theater arts programming and performances. And that makes you our superhero.

Thank you, as always, for your support. See you on the training course!

Alison, Development and Producing Associate

 

Revealing Creativity through Words

 

Check out this great post by young playwright Javier Reyes. Javier’s original play Internal Wounds will premiere on April 12, on the second day of the New Play Festival. Internal Wounds is a harrowing story of family and addiction. After the death of his father, Andrew turns to drugs to ease his pain. Can his mother pick up the pieces of her family? Can Andrew heal the pain he has caused? You can read more about Javier and his play on the YPT website.

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I never really saw myself as a playwright. That’s until YPT showed up at my school.

YPT gave all of us the chance to reveal our creativity through our words. I decided to take my chances and my play was actually chosen! I wasn’t too excited but I was surprised my play was chosen. But at the read through I was excited to see and hear my characters brought alive. I really liked how the actors brought out my characters through themselves; they made it sound really awesome.

I’m really looking for the audience to be blown away by such a tragic story that I came up with. I can honestly say that YPT really helped me express myself through the creativity they showed me I had. I really look forward to my play being presented as well as others.

Thanks YPT! 😀

Javier Reyes
YPT Young Playwright

YPT Kicks Off Our Fifteenth Birthday Season

After working at Young Playwrights’ Theater for about two weeks, I attended the New Writer’s Now! Kick-Off Party last Tuesday evening – my first YPT event! As the new Development Assistant, I’ve jumped right into updating contacts in the database, putting together mailings and trying to learn the names of everyone and everything, from staff, to board members, to important programs. So it was a nice change of pace to attend the New Writers Now! Kick-Off and see a first-hand example of one of these projects, and even match a few faces to the names I’ve seen in our giant database.

The party was small and intimate, with everyone sitting around tables in the YPT studio space chatting and, in my case, meeting new people. The variety of attendees really represented all different parts of the YPT family. I met students, friends and family of students, local actors, staff and even board members and supporters. As we sat around snacking on treats (including our artistically arranged cracker and cheese plates) I was able to talk to some of the students that YPT works with, and I had a great conversation about social media and DC-area theater with a board member and a long-time supporter of YPT. At larger organizations, funders and board members can often seem inaccessible and intimidating to a new staff member, so it was great how friendly and approachable everyone at the Kick-Off Party was, and how enthusiastic they were about the new season. The event also included teaser scenes from a few upcoming YPT student works, and as someone who has never seen a YPT reading before, I was very impressed by the quality of the work. It’s events like these that help us get through the occasional long day of data entry or stuffing envelopes, and I’m eager to see the full plays in the coming months!

Overall, I think the New Writers Now! Kick-Off Party summed up my impression of YPT so far: a small company with a family-like feel, yet made up of a wide variety of people drawn together by their enthusiasm for the arts and their support for the unique work that YPT does. I’m amazed by the impressive number of students that we reach (especially considering our small core staff) and I’m beyond thrilled to have joined the YPT team. I’m looking forward to meeting more people and seeing some great new theater in the upcoming season!

Click here to see photos from the New Writers Now! Kick-Off Party.

Alison
Development Assistant

David Speaks on the Role of the Arts in Students’ Lives – Why We Do What We Do

This year I and YPT were honored to receive the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation’s Exponent Award for visionary leadership. On Monday, June 7th, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, we received the award during a fun and compelling ceremony that highlighted the importance of the work of nonprofits in our community. I am so grateful to the Meyer Foundation, for the award, but also for the simple opportunity to share a few thoughts about why we do what we do. I’ve had several requests since that evening to post or share my remarks in some way, so here they are. I hope you’ll in some way connect with how we at YPT feel about the arts in students’ lives.

Monday, June 7, 2010
“Thank you so much. I’m so grateful to Julie, Rick, Carmen, Amy, the board of directors and everyone at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, to have their amazing support in my life and the life of Young Playwrights’ Theater. As those of us running organizations know all too well, the proof is in the people. And the Meyer Foundation is filled with true partners, true advocates and true friends to us in the nonprofit sector. I’ve dedicated my life to helping students express themselves and engage the world around them. Because I believe as much as we need to eat, sleep and clothe ourselves to be human, we need to express ourselves. We need to be able to share with our neighbors and the rest of the world what’s bothering us, how others can help us and what we fear or dream of for our future. And that beyond basic reading, writing and arithmetic, students need to be able to think for themselves. They need to be able to imagine, envision, and explain. They need to understand – not just know, but to understand what they’re learning and why. They need to be able to stand up, put their ideas forward and defend them. And they need to be able to inspire and be inspired.

I know that as I reflect on important moments in my life when I truly learned something, most of them didn’t happen sitting silently at a desk. Most of them were experiences, conversations, dialogues with other people that taught me something I didn’t know and stirred something inside me I didn’t know I had. And in this age of Facebook, Twitter and texting there’s an even greater understanding that comes from being in a room face to face, explaining with our whole selves what we mean, and learning about the world from direct experience and dialogue with our fellow human beings.

So as we’re ensuring that critical needs are met in these challenging times, and that students can do well on the latest standardized tests, I think we need to consider not only what will get us through the night, through the next month or next couple of years, but also what we want to be, what we want to look like and what we want to represent when we get through it.  What kind of society do we want to have? How will students compete in the global arena of ideas if they have none to share? And how can we envision our future if we’re not able to dream?

At Young Playwrights’ Theater we give students the tools they need to engage the world.  And in turn they share their dreams, their fears, their hopes and their visions for the future.  Every student writes a play. Every student hears their play performed by professional actors in the classroom. We share the students’ work with their community through readings, festivals and tours and we pay the students for the opportunity to produce their plays. The students introduce their work and speak about why they wrote what they wrote; they drive rehearsals and recognize their own power in the process. Truancy rates drop when we’re in the classroom. Homework completion soars with our assignments.  We see with our assessments that students’ critical and creative thinking improve dramatically during the program. And teachers, students and parents tell us how much the program has meant to them. Because for many of our students, it’s the first time someone has asked them what they think. It’s their first time to really engage in class.  It’s their first time to tell their stories.  And it’s their first time to realize their own true potential – a revelation of who they are, and who they could be.

Tonight, this honor helps me and all of us at YPT know that what we do matters – that having a vision, and thinking outside the box, makes a difference; that we have partners who believe in our mission; and that service toward a greater good is possible, even today. And that’s a huge gift. I want to thank my fellow recipients, who bring hope, love and strength to so many; thank you to my amazing staff at Young Playwrights’ Theater, Patrick Torres, Brigitte Moore, Elizabeth Andrews, who inspire me every day with their dedication, their passion and their generosity; to our wonderful board of directors and our amazing chair Brian Kennedy; thank you to the greatest Founder a successor could wish for, Karen Zacarias, and of course to our students, for their dedication, their inspiration and their awe-inspiring work; and to my family –  my parents, my sister, my beautiful wife Alex, my son Henry and my two-week old daughter Della for their love and grace in my life. I am grateful to do this work and I am so very grateful to be here tonight.  Thank you very, very much.”

Click here to see more info on the award and the video compilation of the evening, produced by the Meyer Foundation.

Hope to see you soon!

David
Producing Artistic Director and CEO

Movie Break: Why the Film “Inception” Made Brigitte So Excited for YPT’s 15th Season

“A single idea from the human mind can build cities.  An idea can transform the rules and rewrite all existence.”

–     Cobb (from Inception)

This past weekend I took a break from writing grant proposals for YPT and saw Inception, the imaginative new Christopher Nolan film that’s bringing in the box office big bucks this month. I left the film inspired (I loved it) and, believe it or not, thinking of YPT.

In Inception (I promise I’m not giving anything away), a crack team of dream “extractors”, lucid dreamers who infiltrate people’s minds and coerce them into revealing their deepest secrets, work together to tackle the risky, untested challenge of “inception” – implanting an idea in the subconscious mind of a dreamer. The film is smart, visually stunning, and contains a mind-blowing fight scene that takes place in a hallway (if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about).

So why on earth would this sci-fi thriller make me think of YPT?

Inception is a story about a perfect team – each team member contributes something unique and necessary to the mission of the group. They give it all they’ve got. They trust one another.

As YPT expands this year to serve more students than ever before (1,000!), I cannot help reflecting on how lucky I am to work with such a perfect team.

Each YPT staff member, board member, teaching artist, actor, director and designer plays a specific and invaluable role in achieving our daily mission to use playwriting to teach students the power and value of their own creative ideas – ideas that can move hearts and minds, ideas that may, indeed, change the world.

In fact, the imaginative idea behind the film Inception is the kind of innovation that I find so inspiring in the work of our students. Plays written by YPT students tackle challenging issues including gender roles, self-worth, power dynamics, immigration, drugs, and gangs; and explore such universal themes as family, relationships, heritage, and love. And YPT students take on these big ideas in such inventive and unexpected ways. Just this past year, YPT produced a dark, sci-fi play that imagines a future world in which women have been deemed obsolete and eliminated, a brilliant mafia play that challenges the very concept of theatrical form, and a fantastical comedy about an arrogant knight and a dragon that wants nothing more than to be left alone.

In the next few weeks, YPT will announce our 2010-2011 Season, and (I promise) you will not be disappointed by what our students have in store for you.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an amazing year.

Brigitte
Development Director

A Message from YPT’s Producing Artistic Director and CEO

This season, as we celebrate our 15th Birthday, we’re inviting you to enter our work in a whole new way, to gain your insights into the work by sharing our own and asking you to engage with us. In the coming weeks and months all of us in the company and on staff will be posting entries about the work that we’re doing, from programs and specials projects to development and production. We hope you’ll enjoy this bird’s eye view of how we do what we do and that it’ll inspire you to join us in helping to give students the tools they need to engage the world. Visit often to catch up on what’s been happening and stay connected with what’s next.   Welcome to our community, our family, our company. We hope to see you again soon.

David
Producing Artistic Director and CEO