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!

A New Play Festival Adventure to the Galapagos

On April 22 and 23, YPT will present twelve new student-written plays in the 2013 New Play Festival. Join us on Monday, April 22, for seven fun, family-friendly plays, including A Walk in the Woods by fifth grader Ben Perez. Below, hear from Ben about his inspiration for writing an environmentalist play set in Ecuador, and how the editing process is going so far!

Ben Perez

When my teacher said that YPT was coming, I was so excited. I really wanted to write a play. We learned a lot about playwriting from [YPT teaching artist] Mr. Enrico. When I started writing my play, I was wondering what it should be about. Mr. Enrico said to think about things that have happened to you or things that you have created. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to have a play about environmentalism? So I wrote about a nature guide who had an exciting conflict. Mr. Enrico gave us ideas about how to improve our plays and how to show what we wanted to say by writing.

When I started writing I wanted there to be a guy who would save the tortoises in the Galápagos Islands, so that was my main character. Then I thought there had to be someone who wanted to harm the animals, so he was my antagonist. I developed my play around the conflict between these two characters. Then came the day when Mr. Enrico said he was going to collect the stories. I was nervous about my play because I didn’t know if he would like it.

One day some actors from YPT came to our class. They presented a tiny part of each play. I liked the plays and at the end of the day Mr. Enrico announced the four New Play Festival finalists from our school. When he said my name I was so happy and really excited! An interesting thing is that he also said my twin sister’s name, so we were both finalists from our school!

A couple of weeks later, my mom got a phone call from YPT with some great news. My sister and I both moved up to the final round! A few days later we got another call that my sister’s play would be read at the kickoff party and my play would be produced in the spring! It was a very exciting day.

After the celebration with all the finalists, I started working with my dramaturge, Mr. Enrico. So far my play has improved a lot. It is really helpful to work with him because he notices things and gives me ideas. For example, he helped me develop my characters and also he said I could use some Spanish in my play since it happens in Ecuador. He asks me a lot of questions to help me think about what should happen in my play. It is really fun working with Mr. Enrico!

Learn more about the 2013 New Play Festival plays and playwrights on our website!

April Pizza Adventures Part IV: RedRocks Pizzeria

We did it!  A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our pizza party fundraising marathon this April. We had a great time exploring local pizza joints, raising money for the New Play Festival, and sampling all kinds of pizza.

On Wednesday, April 18, RedRocks Pizzeria in Columbia Heights very generously agreed to donate 30% of their happy hour proceeds to YPT, so Wednesday evening I took a break from all the exciting preparations leading up to the New Play Festival (opening on Monday!) and headed over to RedRocks. The cozy pizza restaurant is located in a converted row house just a few blocks from the Columbia Heights metro, and it was a welcome shelter from the cold, wet Wednesday evening. I found families and young professionals alike enjoying RedRocks neopolitan-style thin crust pizzas and after-work specials.

Highlights:

  • $6.50 margarita pizzas during happy hour. And these pizzas weren’t small– you could easily eat your fill and still have leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • The cozy atmosphere, especially on a gray, rainy evening in the middle of the week.
  • While I did not sample the calzones this visit (also a happy hour special), I caught a glimpse, and they looked delicious – and huge!
  • Thin crust European-style pizza. Although I love all kinds of pizza, I must say this is my favorite.
  • How friendly and accommodating the staff was as people came and went from our YPT pizza party – they even extended their happy hour specials until 8pm.
  • And of course, how awesome RedRocks is for hosting our final YPT pizza party!

Overall, RedRocks is a perfect neighborhood restaurant if you’re in the Columbia Heights area and craving delicious, restaurant-style pizza in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. I’m sure I and the other members of the YPT staff will be back.

So my journey has come to an end.  While it may be awhile before I’m hungry for pizza again (maybe by the next New Play Festival), I’ve had a great time discovering local pizza joints and making new friends in the community. I’m so impressed by how generous our local businesses are, and I want to thank them all – Pete’s Apizza, Flippin’ Pizza, HomeMade Pizza Company and RedRocks Pizzeria – for supporting YPT, our New Play Festival, and our amazing students.

And of course, a big thank you to YOU, our amazing supporters, for participating in our events and following my adventures (and a special shout-out to my roommate and YPT enthusiast Ashley, who participated in three out of our four fundraisers and even brought a crowd of friends to RedRocks – with only minimal pressure from me!)

How many pizza places did you visit in April?  Share you photos, or your stories on our Facebook page – we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Next up: The New Play Festival!  Now that we’ve raised all the dough (haha), join us on Monday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 24, at 7:30pm, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, to celebrate the achievements of twelve incredible young playwrights. Monday features seven hilarious, family-friendly plays written by some of our younger students, while Tuesday features five plays insightfully exploring more mature issues written by some of our older students. Join us at 7pm on both nights for a special pre-show reception with food and drink.  And I promise … no pizza.

Thank you, as always, for your support. We can’t wait to see you next week.  In the meantime, I’m off to the gym!

Alison
Development and Producing Associate

YPT’s Top 10 of 2011

As we wrapped up another exciting year and wondered how it was already 2012, I read a lot of year-end lists. Albums, documentaries, political blunders, celebrity breakups… December was filled with lists meant to sum up the best (and worst) of the year. Well, how did YPT fare this past year? You decide! Here are YPT’s top 10 moments of 2011:

10. In 2011, YPT was thrilled to expand our programming and performances into Montgomery County, Maryland. In the spring, we received funding from the DIVAs Fund of the Montgomery County Community Foundation to bring our Express Tour into underserved Montgomery County middle schools, reaching over 1,000 at-risk youth with free performances and interactive workshops. We also expanded our After-School Playwriting Program into several community organizations, and served over 150 students at Long Branch Recreation Center in Montgomery County with our Summer Playwriting Program.

9. In the fall of 2011, YPT was selected to participate in the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ highly competitive UPSTART capacity building program for 2012. This competitive grant, which YPT also received in in 2007, is awarded to organizations that have demonstrated strong organizational and fiscal practices and could most benefit from intensive financial and technical assistance to develop new strategic initiatives and support core administrative systems and leadership development.

8. In the summer of 2011, YPT Producing Artistic Director and CEO David Snider was awarded the Hands On Greater DC Cares Essence of Leadership Award, which recognizes business leaders who are simultaneously working toward economic prosperity and transformative social change.

7. YPT lauched the Student Advisory Council to create an opportunity for continued dialogue with some of our most involved alumni, who offer invaluable inspiration and input about our programming and performances.

6. In recognition of the work of staff, artists, alumni and board members to further YPT’s mission, YPT launched our Company this past winter.

5. In November of 2011, YPT went international! YPT students spent a day at the Canadian Embassy creating cross-cultural theater with the students of Es Artes of Suchitoto, El Salvador! One student said of the experience, “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.”

4. The award-winning Young Playwrights’ Workshop was the only student ensemble to perform at the Capital Fringe Festival. With their original play, Out of the Shadow, the Workshop students took a stand for their peers across the country, presenting multiple perspectives and sharing important stories on the topic of bullying.

3. This past fall was YPT’s longest Express Tour, visiting 56 venues and giving thousands of students and community members their first theater experience.

2. The New Play Festival was bigger than ever with 15 plays over 3 nights. Featured plays were written by students at Bancroft Elementary School, Bell Multicultural High School, Lafayette Elementary School, Maya Angelou Public Charter School, Plummer Elementary School, Swanson Middle School, Watkins Elementary School and Wilson High School.

And the best part of 2011 for YPT? Drumroll please…

1. 2011 saw more plays written by YPT students than ever before! Our work in the classroom led to the creation of 700 new student-written plays. We are so excited to continue sharing them with you all this season!

Liza

Communications and Graphic Design Associate

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

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

Our Playwrights Fear Nothing (Not Even Peanut Butter): Reflections on the New Play Festival

Last week, on April 11-13, YPT presented the 2011 New Play Festival. It was an inspiring experience for YPT’s young playwrights, artists, staff and the hundreds of community members who came out to GALA Hispanic Theatre to celebrate with us (we had overflowing houses all three nights!).

As YPT’s Program Assistant and a New Play Festival dramaturge, I was particularly inspired to watch a play written by one of my students make its way from the page to the stage over the past few months.

When I sat down to read Flatworm’s Courageous Act for YPT’s 2011 New Play Festival reading committee in January, I immediately remembered the student who wrote it.

I taught Lauren White’s 4th grade class at Lafayette Elementary School in the spring of 2010 through YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program, and though I hadn’t seen her in more than 6 months, Lauren stuck in my mind as a student who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and was always eager to write. As I read her play again for the reading committee, I was  reminded of why I nominated it for the festival last year. Lauren’s imaginative and hilarious play about a flatworm-turned-superhero who must overcome his fear of peanut butter to save the girl of his dreams (she’s held captive by a Peanut Butter Monster, naturally) left me in awe of her intelligence and creativity. The play’s silliness keeps the laughs coming, but also reads as a staged coming-of-age graphic novel, drawing upon the style and themes of classic comic books.

When YPT decided to produce Flatworm’s Courageous Act in the 2011 New Play Festival, I was excited to learn that I would have the opportunity to help bring Lauren’s vision to life as its dramaturge. After our first meeting, the blend of smart writing and wackiness in the play made total sense: while Lauren took copious notes and had an immediate idea for every suggestion I made, she also demonstrated her “Billy Bob Thorton as an Australian” impression for me while we waited for her mom to pick her up. I also learned where the mature stylistic elements in Flatworm’s Courageous Act came from. Lauren showed me some of the impressive cartoons she has drawn, including one of Flatworm himself, and told me that her mom is a professional artist.

After hearing Lauren’s play read by professional actors at the first New Play Festival read-through on March 12, I grew even more impressed with her playwriting expertise. The characters, style, and tone of her play were so clearly written that the actors immediately picked up on it and created a world of flawed but brave superheroes, gruff villains and shrieking damsels in distress.

Following Lauren through this entire process – from her first workshop in the Lafayette Library to the performance of Flatworm’s Courageous Act which took place last week – has been an amazing experience. It embodies what we aim to do at YPT: foster talented young writers and guide them through the playwriting process from their first monologue to their final round of applause.

To read Lauren’s take on the process, click here.

To see photos from last week’s New Play Festival, click here.

Laurie Ascoli
Program Assistant