Meet Nora Foster and Kaitlyn Murphy!

GWO Playwright Photo Shoot-47
Kaitlyn Murphy (L) and Nora Foster (R) pose for a photo shoot.

Nora Foster and Kaitlyn Murphy are two strong, ambitious young women. The DC-area teens, who studied playwriting in YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program then saw their plays come to life in the New Play Festival, dream of making a difference in the world through their words and talents.

Kaitlyn, a freshman at Cardozo Education Campus, is an avid spoken word poet; Nora, a junior at Yorktown High School, enjoys nature photography. Their plays, Ayo’s Audience and Stuck in a Fairy Tale, will be featured in Girls Write Out!, YPT first performance of 2015-2016! Monday, October 19, at 7pm at The Forum in Sidney Harman Hall. FREE!

Click here for more information and tickets!

YPT sat down with Nora and Kaitlyn to learn more about their experience in the program, their hopes for Girls Write Out! and the value of sharing girls’ voices. Read on for the interview and photographs of these fabulous young playwrights!

GWO Playwright Photo Shoot-36

YPT: What did you think when the In-School Playwriting Program first came into your classroom?
KM: I was really excited to see what I could write, and [see it] being acted out.

YPT: How did you react when you found out your play was going to be performed?
KM:
There were a lot of students in my class, so when I realized that my play was going to be produced I thought, ‘Oh wow, this is cool!’
NF: I was really surprised, I was really happy…when YPT picked mine, I was just ecstatic. Having people not only compliment your work, but criticize it so you can grow and learn more from professionals [was really great].

GWO Playwright Photo Shoot-25YPT: Tell us about your play!
KM: My play is called Ayo’s Audience. [It’s] about a girl trying to follow her dream to become a spoken word artist. It’s very much like my story, so it was pretty easy to write it. [Ayo] lives with her father, and…is struggling to make him understand that she has a passion for this art. In the end, her father and her overcome obstacles, and their relationship becomes stronger.
NF: My play is Stuck in a Fairy Tale, and this girl basically gets thrown into different fairy tales. Like Snow White, Rapunzel…it’s a twist on these classics.

YPT: Where did that come from in your mind?
NF: I have no idea! We were doing some exercise with YPT, and…all of a sudden it just popped into my head! I was just like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll write about this!’ Turned out pretty good…

GWO Playwright Photo Shoot-4YPT: What is your play’s moral/what do you want audience members to walk away with?
KM: My wish [is] for everybody to relate to the characters…my moral is, ‘Keep striving for your dream, no matter what. You have to push through the obstacles and keep steady.’
NF: I just hope that when people walk away from seeing my play, that they remember it…you have to do what’s right for you, and no matter what people say you have to know what’s good for you and follow through. Stand up for yourself.
KM: I want more people to involve themselves in the arts more…that’d be a really cool thing, to see other girls involve themselves in things that [are] a release for them.

YPT: What happens when a girl realizes the power of her voice?
KM: I’m still trying to find the power of my voice! (Laughs) The power of your voice comes when you start affecting people by what you say, and you realize that your voice has a meaning, and that it can make an impact on certain situations or people.
NF: Once you find your voice, it makes a really big impact on others. As long as you use it for good, and you tell people…whatever you’re passionate about, it can make a big impact.

YPT: Do you have any advice for young playwrights in YPT’s program right now?
KM: Don’t worry about nobody else. Have your stuff set, do what you need to do—no matter what, your play is amazing, because you wrote it. The process of writing a play is the best thing ever: you just wrote a play! That’s great! I bet you haven’t done that before! …Appreciate it for what it is.
NF: Don’t doubt yourself…just write what you think is good, don’t compare yourself, because everyone is different in their own way, everyone is unique. Just believe in yourself and keep doing what you think is creative.

GWO Playwright Photo Shoot-73

Thank you to Nora and Kaitlyn for speaking with YPT! See their creativity on display at Girls Write Out!, Monday, October 19 at 7pm at the Forum in Sidney Harman Hall! FREE! Part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival.

Click here to reserve your tickets to Girls Write Out!

YPT Preview: GIRLS WRITE OUT!

GWO img w WVTF & YPT logosYPT Presents: Girls Write Out!

Monday, October 19
6:30pm reception / 7pm performance
The Forum in Sidney Harman Hall
FREE and open to the public
Part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival

Click here to reserve your seats!

YPT’s 2015-2016 performance season begins with Girls Write Out!, a FREE, one-night-only staged reading of four plays and monologues written by young female playwrights. Professional actors bring to life tales of magic bracelets, superhero sisters, evil queens and more!

Featured plays include:

Neveah New Play Fest headshot
Diamond of Destiny, by Nevaeh Edwards
Stuck in a Fairy Tale, by Nora Foster
Stuck in a Fairy Tale, by Nora Foster
The Magic Bracelet, by Carmela Pascale
The Magic Bracelet, by Carmela Pascale
Wish for Light, by Anderson Waltz
Wish for Light,
by Anderson Waltz

With monologues by:

Kaitlyn Murphy
Kaitlyn Murphy
Mariana Pavón Sánchez
Mariana Pavón Sánchez
Helen Villegas
Helen Villegas
Amber Faith Walton
Amber Faith Walton

Each of these playwrights wrote her piece in YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program. Ranging in age from 12-22 years old, they are among the youngest playwrights featured at the Women’s Voices Theater Festival!

After the performance, YPT Founding Artistic Director Karen Zacarías will lead an engaging talkback with the playwrights. Karen is a resident playwright at Arena Stage, and her play, Destiny of Desire, is Arena’s contribution to the Festival!

YPT will also be making a special announcement at Girls Write Out!, so join us and hear the good news!

Click here to RSVP to Girls Write Out!, and reserve your (free) tickets in advance here.

For more on the featured playwrights and plays, read on!


Diamond of Destiny, by Nevaeh Edwards Apr 28-128

KRYSTAL: My daughters who have betrayed me … Come out, come out! I said come out now. Don’t be afraid Laura, Lauren, Lauriann, Lauribell and Laurie. You should love me, I’m your mother. So come out NOW.

LAURA: We’ve come out to battle you!

KRYSTAL: Really? Battle your powerful mommy?

LAURA: Come on girls. It’s time!

Nevaeh Edwards’ Diamond of Destiny pits five sisters from the planets Lexaton and Vertex against their evil mother in a fight for the fate of Earth. Full of action, adventure and fun, this is one serious family feud!

Nevaeh is in seventh grade in Washington, DC. She wrote Diamond of Destiny while in fifth grade at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. Read more about Nevaeh here!


Stuck in a Fairy Tale, by Nora Foster

SIFT 7

ALEX: Hello? Is anyone there?

RAPUNZEL: (Astonished)  Who is it?! I’m here! Don’t leave! Stay! Just-just… wait a moment!

ALEX: Okay… I’ll wait.

RAPUNZEL: Um, this might sound odd, but I’d like it if you would just climb up my… rope. Yes, rope. It might look weird, but no need to worry, just climb as best you can.

In Nora Foster’s Stuck in a Fairy Tale, teenage author Alex falls asleep and wakes up in a strange and fantastical land! Before she goes, she teaches Cinderella and company a few things about being a 21st century teenager.

Nora is a student at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA. She wrote her play while in seventh grade at Swanson Middle School.


The Magic Bracelet, by Carmela Pascale

TMB 3

ELOISE: …You see this bracelet, wait, donde esta?! (Sees it on the floor.) Oh what a relief! Jakey estas bien? (Cuddles with bracelet. Pause.) Oh you think…? No No No No No Jake turn human K?

(ELOISE throws bracelet to a side. Poof!)

JAKE: (Offstage) Oh Elly!

(ELOISE and JAKE hug.)

JAKE: Oh Elly, you’re my best friend. I’m so happy I’m with you.

ELOISE: Oh. Um. This is my bracelet…boyfriend. Bracelet-boyfriend. Bracelet-boyfriend. OK let’s say he’s a magical bracelet who just happens to be my boyfriend.

Carmela Pascale’s The Magic Bracelet tells the tale of Eloise, a young bilingual girl picked on by a group of bullies. With the help of her magic bracelet, she turns the tides on the bullies and teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget!

Carmela is in ninth grade at Bell Multicultural High School, and is a member of YPT’s Student Advisory Council. She wrote The Magic Bracelet while in fifth grade at Bancroft Elementary School.


Wish for Light, by Anderson Waltz

NPF 2015 Group A - Sun

LAUREN: Hullo yer Majesty, what do you need?

QUEEN: Are you Lauren?

LAUREN: (Sarcastically) Um… I think so.

QUEEN: Not funny dear. Now, child, I read your letter, and it’s very, interesting… And I have many questions for you to answer for me.

LAUREN: Like, what questions?

QUEEN: First off, why do you want me to change?!

LAUREN: Well—

QUEEN: I mean, isn’t it perfect here? Don’t answer me, because it is.

In Anderson Waltz’s Wish for Light, the selfish Queen has gotten rid of the Sun. Can clever Lauren convince her to bring it back again? Find out in the WORLD PREMIERE of Wish for Light!

Anderson is a middle school student in Washington, DC. She wrote Wish for Light while in fifth grade at Watkins Elementary School.

Join YPT for professional staged readings of all these plays and more…

Monday, October 19 at Sidney Harman Hall!

YPT’s 20th Anniversary Season: A Look Back

20Fest logo FINAL

That’s a wrap!

YPT’s 20th anniversary performance season is in the books, and it was one for…well, the books.

In the last seven months, YPT has held six unique performances, featuring a grand total of 41 student-written plays. Over 100 professional theater artists participated in YPT’s productions this year, including actors and directors from ten different DC-area theater companies. Nearly 1,000 people attended our free productions, and were inspired to donate upwards of $2,000: enough to fund one more classroom in our 20 Classroom Challenge!

In honor of a record-breaking year of student-written theater, we wanted to remember some of the highlights from a season we’ll never forget!


20Fest Flier FINAL FINALYPT’s 20th Anniversary Festival
Friday, December 12, 2014
7pm
Theater J

YPT’s 20th anniversary season began with a celebration of our rich history: the 20th Anniversary Festival! Featuring twenty of the best plays written in YPT’s first twenty years, 20Fest brought together ten local companies to remount the student pieces in their own signature styles.

From Rorschach Theatre’s reimagining of Ally in Blunderland to Faction of Fools’ commedia dell’arte take on Magnet Dude, 20Fest honored twenty years of young playwrights with transcendent interpretations and performances of their work. Thank you to all who took part in 20Fest – it was such a joy to see the DC theater community rally around young voices!

For photos from 20Fest, click here.
For video of the performance, click here.
To buy Write to Dream, the book containing all the 20Fest plays, click here!

20Fest Perf-298


Silence is Violence flier FINALSilence Is Violence: A #BlackLivesMatter Event
Tuesday, January 29, 2015
7pm
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

At the dawn of 2015, the #BlackLivesMatter movement had grown into a nationwide outcry against racial injustice and police brutality. Seeing that DC’s young people had little chance to share their own reflections on the movement, YPT did something we’ve never done before: we held a pop-up event.

Conceived and organized in under two weeks, Silence Is Violence: A #BlackLivesMatter Event was an open mic-style forum for artistic and community expression. Before a packed house at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, eleven adult and four youth artists performed works of poetry and prose, including a group reading of response pieces written by sixth graders at Eliot-Hine Middle School.

The event culminated in a space for community artistic response, including a group mural and an #IHaveADream ribbon activity led by activist Omolara Williams McCallister. It was incredible to see so many people empowered to speak their minds!

For photos from Silence Is Violence, click here!
To read the student pieces from the event, visit our blog, Silence Is Violence DC.

Processed with VSCOcam with g2 preset
Photo by ShelbyWorks

NWN nofilter flier v2New Writers Now! #nofilter
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
7pm
Anacostia Playhouse

Just two weeks after Silence Is Violence came New Writers Now! #nofilter, YPT’s first professional staged reading of 2015.

In honor of Black History Month, #nofilter featured four powerful plays written by black female students in our In-School Playwriting Program. Presented by YPT in partnership with Wild Women Theatre, the performance captivated the capacity crowd with tales of murder and mystery, love and kinship, teen homelessness and much more.

Through this celebration of young black voices, we were honored to continue the conversation around the #BlackLivesMatter movement. After the show, audience members were invited to contribute their own experiences to the community mural begun at Silence Is Violence.

For photos from #nofilter, click here!
For complete video of the performance, click here.

NWN nofilter-97


2015 NPF Postcard FRONT FINALThe 2015 New Play Festival
April 20-22, 2015
7pm
GALA Hispanic Theatre

After #nofilter came our biggest performance event of the season: the 2015 New Play Festival!

This year’s Festival spanned three nights, featuring fifteen brand-new works written by YPT students. The plays brought to life tales of samurai warriors and dreadlock-nappers; brothers and sisters and fathers and sons; poets, playwrights and, of course, vengeful bacon strips.

The 2015 New Play Festival drew over 400 people to GALA Hispanic Theatre and raised over $1,800, making it among the most successful New Play Festivals in YPT history!

For photos from the 2015 New Play Festival, click here!
Videos from the Festival are not yet online, but you can watch the promotional “showdown” videos here!

To buy the 2015 New Play Festival book, featuring all 32 Featured and Finalist plays, click here!

NPF 2015 Group B-215


Stage Fright flier FINALThe Student Advisory Council Presents: Stage Fright
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
7pm
Busboys and Poets

The close of the New Play Festival marked the end of YPT’s professional performance season, but our students were not done sharing their work!

The Student Advisory Council, a group of YPT alumni who advise our staff and create new work together, followed up last year’s Dear Mr. Stein with a new original play, Stage Fright. Through a series of vignettes and monologues—some funny, some poignant—Stage Fright addressed our everyday fears and not-so-everyday phobias.

The play culminated in a Choose Your Own Adventure piece that brought the audience into the performance, and raised over $200 for YPT in the process!

For photos from Stage Fright, click here!
For the full video of the show, click here!

Stage Fright-503


YPW Presents 2015 flier FINALThe Young Playwrights’ Workshop Presents: The Art of Understanding
Monday, June 15
7pm
Source

YPT’s 2014-15 performance season concluded with The Art of Understanding, an original play written and performed by the teen artists of our award-winning Young Playwrights’ Workshop!

Weaving together dramatic vignettes and personal poems, The Art of Understanding addressed the subject of mental health through a variety of genres and perspectives. From love stories to tales of escape, the play explored the experience of people with eating disorders, multiple personality disorder, depression and much more.

Presented by CulturalDC as part of the 2015 Source Festival, The Art of Understanding wowed the crowd and sparked a valuable dialogue about mental illness, representation and the creative process. The night ended with a dessert reception celebrating an incredible season and paying homage to those Young Playwrights’ Workshop members moving on to college and more!

For photos from The Art of Understanding, click here!
For an interview with three graduating Workshop seniors, click here!

YPW 2015 Performance-213


Thank you for supporting YPT’s 20th anniversary performance season! We’ll see you in the fall!

The 2015 New Play Festival: Super Awesome Extras

2015 NPF Postcard FRONT FINAL

YPT’s 2015 New Play Festival is just around the corner! April 20-22, 2015, at 7pm at GALA Hispanic Theatre, our dedicated team of professional actors, directors and dramaturges will bring to life fifteen vivid and compelling plays written by YPT students ages 8-17.

This year’s Festival, the culmination of YPT’s 20th Anniversary season, will be our biggest and best yet! The fifteen plays we’re featuring this year come from a pool of over 1,000 submissions – more than we’ve ever received before. NPF 2015 Book Cover FRONTAnd boy, are they spectacular! From the riotous tale of a bacon strip’s vengeance to hard-hitting family dramas, these plays reflect the diverse voices of our intelligent, inquisitive and imaginative students.

We received so many great submissions, in fact, that we couldn’t fit them all into one show! Seventeen other plays, which were named as Finalists for the Festival, will be published alongside the Featured Plays in our 2015 New Play Festival book, available for purchase on Amazon.

But the creativity of our young playwrights did not stop with their Finalist or Featured Plays – many of them have sent us other pieces of written or visual art that couldn’t make it into the book. Thus, we present to you:

The 2015 New Play Festival: Super Awesome Extras

Featured Plays

The Trip to the New World, by Aijah T. Royal

The Trip to the New World tells the tale of a teenage girl stuck inside High School World, who dreams of traveling to the Real World. Even before the play was selected for the Festival, Aijah had already sketched out her vision for what the two worlds look like! Check it out, and see The Trip to the New World live onstage on Monday, April 20!

Trip to the New World scene

Losxy Docxy, by Evan Alston

Based on an African folk tale, Evan Alston’s Losxy Docxy is the spooky story of a being that comes out at night to snatch people with dreadlocks and take them away to his lair. Evan himself, however, is far from spooky: in fact, he’s just about as cute as can be! He’s also an accomplished poet, and read this heart-warming piece at YPT’s Giving Voice Award Gala in early March:

Dear fellow student. You have just found this hidden capsule. So for your reward I’ll tell you a poem about the Young Playwrights Theater.

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetAfter this poem, I know you’ll be a fan.
After this poem I 
know you’ll understand.
After this poem you won’t be 
tired,
after this poem you’ll be inspired.

The Young Playwrights are the best.
They are better than 
all the rest.
The Young Playwrights are so cool,
So cool 
just like school.

They will take your hard work and creativity,
and help 
you be the best you can be.
YPT is so much fun.
They 
have enthusiasm for everyone.

So if you want to write a play you better come on in,
because with YPT you’re going to win!!!

Written by Evan Alston

See Losxy Docxy on Night Two of the Festival, Tuesday, April 21!

Finalists

The Hero Who Called Himself Faith, by Scott Lake

During his In-School Playwriting Program, Chelsea School student Scott Lake wrote an epic fantasy play called The Hero Who Called Himself Faith. We were astounded by the richness of the world he created, and are happy to share the script in the book! Just before we sent the book off to print, Scott sent us more background on the play, along with two AMAZING drawings his friend Jordan Barron made of the hero James and the evil Demon King. Take a look!

There once was a war between Man and Demon. Neither side could win, but the Demon King had a trick up his sleeve: his weapons were made out of a rare alloy forged out of misery.

The Demon King used many slaves working in his mine to look for this rare alloy. He captured many villages and made them work in the mine. The Demon King killed many people and made some of them work till death. The miners would feel very miserable and scared when they worked and it made the weapons even stronger.

But one man with pure heart stole some of this rare alloy and forged the Sword of Faith, the Helm of Wisdom and the Shield of Strength. These weapons made the Demon King retreat back to his domain.

But all good heroes die; before he died, he saw a vision from the Helm of Wisdom that when he died the Demon King would return and take over. But he saw a child that was purest of heart and would vanquish the Demon King. He told his oldest and strongest son to take the Shield of Strength to the eastern mountains with a huge army waiting for this child. Then he told the smartest and wisest son to take the Helm of Wisdom to the south and train this child. He told his last son that he should go west to look for the child, so he gave his son a piece of his sword and told him, “It will glow when you find this child.”

When he died, his body was hidden in the mountain with the sword guarded by a dragon. The only way to get the Sword of Faith is to solve this riddle, and the riddle is: “I shall raise my sword only to Evil and put it down for Good.”

James, holding the Sword of Faith and the Shield of Strength and wearing the Helm of Wisdom.
James, holding the Sword of Faith and the Shield of Strength and wearing the Helm of Wisdom.
The evil Demon King!
The evil Demon King!

Our 20Fest plays and playwrights!

You’ve met the nine other theater companies performing student-written plays at our upcoming 20th Anniversary Festival – now meet our wonderful student playwrights and find out about the plays themselves!

20Fest is coming up Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7pm at Theater J – be there for a FREE theater event 20 years in the making!


The Stranger by Sam BurrisSam Burris

First performed in the 2012 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

In The Stranger, Sam Burris deftly personifies the feeling of fear as a character, depicting the struggles of a recent war veteran. Follow Lieutenant Parker as he tries to leave “Fear” behind and start a new life as a civilian.

Sam wrote The Stranger as a response to seeing so many veterans who he believed faced significant hardships and disrespect from their community, many of them homeless. Now that Sam’s play has been published, he hopes that his message will reach readers across the country. “I really hope that people understand how much others go through to protect us. I hope they have a newfound respect for veterans and anyone who has served our country in any form.”

Sam is an active alumnus of Young Playwrights’ Theater and a member of our Student Advisory Council. He wrote The Stranger as an eighth grader at Swanson Middle School. It will be performed at 20Fest by dog & pony dc.


Paul McCoyerMoney, Money, Money by Paul McCoyer

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

Promising Playwright

Jack and Ronaldo are young entrepreneurs. At first, they’re drawn together by their love of money, but it’s that same love that drives them apart. Paul McCoyer presents a hilarious satire titled Money, Money, Money.

When it comes to inspiration, Paul says, “A writer can be inspired about things that annoy him/her, in addition to things they like. For example: when someone is stubborn or lazy, or when your teachers give you too much homework, things like that. I was recently inspired to write a video script about the five most annoying things my little brother does. Inspiration isn’t always about what you like.”

Paul is an active alumnus of Young Playwrights’ Theater and a member of our Student Advisory Council. He wrote Money, Money, Money as fifth grader at Bancroft Elementary School. It will be performed at 20Fest by dog & pony dc.


Kyrtham FrancoMagnet Dude by Kyrtham Franco

First performed in the 2007 Express Tour

Promising Playwright

Magnet Dude has a secret—metal terrifies him! When a super villain seeks to exploit this weakness, he must face the fact that even superheroes need a little help from their friends. What happens next? Find out in Magnet Dude, by Kyrtham Franco.

“Let your imagination run free and you might accomplish something you didn’t expect. I know this because it happened to me when I wrote this play.”

Kyrtham wrote Magnet Dude as a sixth grader at Capitol City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. It will be performed at 20Fest by Faction of Fools Theatre Company.


The Enemy Attacks! by Julia Winkler

First performed in the 2006 New Play Festival

What happens when the broccoli is tired of being the most ignored vegetable on the party platter? This imaginative play “dips” into the inner lives of vegetables and…humanity…with hilarious and wise outcomes! The Enemy Attacks! features a piece of broccoli names Broccoliti and his celery friend, Celetunia, as they work to defeat the hungry human, Timmy Jim Jim, before he can eat them off a veggie plate. They are assisted in their quest by their imaginary friends, Stickathina and Harry Green, as well as an orange named Orangellio.

“It impacted me in a big way,” Julia says. “Just having the chance to write.” She has some advice for those interested in writing: “If you like to write, but you’re nervous about it, just do it for fun and see what happens!”

Julia wrote The Enemy Attacks! as a third grader at the Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Washington, D.C. It will be performed at 20Fest by Faction of Fools Theatre Company.


YPTThe Elevator by Nora Spellane

First Perfomed in the 2009 New Play Festival

Performance video

In The Elevator, Ahmed, a Muslim man, and George, a man prejudiced against Muslims, get stuck together in an elevator. Ahmed suggests they work together to get out of their situation, but George must first overcome some of his prejudices in order to do so.

“Art is powerful,” says Nora. “You are powerful. Create. Produce. Get yourself out there and speak.”

Nora wrote The Elevator as a ninth grader at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Forum Theatre.


Color Lines by Sheila Walcott

First perfomed as part of The Pen is Mightier: Proudly Presenting the 1999 Spring Tour

In Color Lines, Sheila explores the topic of interracial dating and expectations in a college setting.

Sheila is now Vice President of Original Movies at The Disney Channel in Los Angeles. She says that having her play selected for professional production by YPT was one of the main reasons she embarked on a career in entertainment because it validated her skills as a writer.

Sheila wrote Color Lines in 1998 as a senior at Benjamin Banneker Academic Senior High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Forum Theatre.


Young Playwright MarianaMariana’s Wish by Mariana Pavón Sánchez

First performed in the 2010 New Play Festival

Performance video

For many people around the world, living in the United States is a dream. But what happens when making that dream a reality means leaving family behind? In Mariana’s Wish by Mariana Pavón Sánchez, a teenage girl wants nothing more than to see her mother, but they’re hundreds and hundreds of miles apart, and she must first convince her father to let her leave.

When YPT received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2010 (one of only 15 winners selected for this honor, from a national pool of more than 400 nominations), Mariana was selected to receive the award on behalf of YPT from First Lady Michelle Obama at a special White House ceremony. Mariana spoke at the ceremony about her own journey and the impact YPT had on her life. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, also attended the ceremony and told Mariana after she accepted the award how he, too, found his voice through artistic expression.

Mariana wrote Mariana’s Wish as a junior at Wakefield High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by GALA Hispanic Theatre.


Moving Out by Edwin Ventura

GALA Hispanic Theatre will also perform the very special play Moving Out by the late playwright, Edwin Ventura, who was tragically killed in 2007 at the age of 18. Ventura had felt trapped by the violence of his neighborhood, and dreamed of moving to a safe place with his family. His touching play tells the tale of a family hurt by violence when the father is shot by a masked gunman during a robbery.Only hours before he was killed, Edwin and his family had visited the home that they hoped to buy in the Maryland suburbs.

YPT honored Edwin’s passion and talent with a public reading of Moving Out in May 2007. The evening brought together friends, family members, local elected officials and activists and inspired a lively dialogue about ending neighborhood violence. 


Love, Math and Martians Don’t Mix by Cassidy Boomsma

First performed in the 2010 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

Love, Math and Martians Don’t Mix is a classic romantic comedy told from a middle school perspective that reminds us of the emotional complexity of finding a love that is out of this world. “My main goal in writing this play was to make people laugh, but I think that the deeper anti-bullying message is also very important,” says Cassidy. “We are rooting for the nerds because, let’s face it, there is a little nerd in every one of us. So let’s all fight those cowardly bullies, Martian style!”

Cassidy wrote Love, Math and Martians Don’t Mix as an eighth grader at Swanson Middle School. It will be performed at 20Fest by No Rules Theatre Company.


Daft Desire by Kenrry Alvarado

First performed in the 2010 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

Daft Desire is a tongue in cheek tale of love, revenge and the power of the mafia. When your ex is out to get you, the question is: who’s in charge here?

“YPT has provided me such an amazing opportunity in producing this play I wrote for their workshop,” says Kenrry. The fact that they were able to bring my thoughts and ideas to life through this program brought me sheer joy and inspiration. I realized that I am more than just one of many, beyond a mere high school student with a negligible impact in society, and that I don’t have to be Batman to distinguish myself from the crowd and have my voice heard. The boundaries were broken. The opportunities became vividly clear. I was finally capable. YPT opened my eyes to a world of endless possibilities.”

Kenrry wrote Daft Desire as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by No Rules Theatre Company.


Julie KashmanianPolished by Julie Kashmanian

First performed in the 2012 New Play Festival

Performance video

Promising Playwright

Julie Kashmanian’s Polished is a hilarious tale of sibling rivalry. Leah just wants to paint her nails. Jo just wants to wash her hair. A struggle over time in the bathroom becomes “possibly the strangest near-death experience ever recorded.”

Since she can remember, Julie has loved creating stories. She spent her childhood inventing wild original tales. Before she had even learned to write, she would dictate stories for her parents to transcribe while she did the illustrations. In addition to writing and acting, Julie also sings, dances, plays the piano, and has studied costume design. She is a former member of YPT’s Student Advisory Council.

Julie wrote Polished as an eighth grader at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program. It will be performed at 20Fest by Pinky Swear Productions.


Rita by Breena Bradford

First performed in the 2001 Empower Play Festival

In Rita, Breena tells the story of the titular character’s crush on a boy in her class, who might not be the type of person she thinks he is.

Breena wrote Rita as a senior at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Pinky Swear Productions.


Sophie ReVealAlly in Blunderland by Sophie ReVeal

First performed in the 2009 Express Tour

Promising Playwright

Ally’s a hardworking student who excels in school, sports, everything! But when she runs too fast and falls down a rabbit hole during a soccer game, her adventures in Blunderland teach her that maybe she should slow down, stop to smell the roses every once in a while and learn to enjoy the everyday wonders…of home.

“If you want to be a writer, just start writing,” says Sophie. “You can never be too old or too young to come up with great ideas.”

Sophie wrote Ally in Blunderland as a fourth grader at Francis Scott Key Elementary. It will be performed at 20Fest by Rorschach Theatre.


Tornado Boy by Antawan Taylor

First performed in the 2009 New Play Festival

Performance video

Jeremy is an elementary school kid with a special power—he is a superhero with the ability to become a tornado! Antawan’s play tells the story of Tornado Boy as he faces his enemy, Scorch.

Antawan wasn’t a huge fan of writing until YPT came to his elementary school classroom in 2009. “If YPT comes to you, it’s a good opportunity to try to change your life, because it changed my whole perspective on my life. I wasn’t really interested in the arts before, but now I am. So just try it.”

Antawan wrote Tornado Boy as a fifth grader at Plummer Elementary School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Rorschach Theatre. 


Chris ChioRobbed by Chris Chio

First performed in the 2012 New Play Festival

What happens when a robber comes up empty-handed? Chris Chio explores a frustrating day in the life of a thief in his hilarious play, Robbed.

Chris is a member of YPT’s Young Playwrights’ Workshop.

He wrote Robbed as a seventh grader at Lincoln Multicultural Middle School. It will be performed at 20Fest by The Washington Rogues. 


Mayra RiveraLove What!? No!? Me a 10 Year Old?! What? Uh-Oh!! by Mayra Rivera

First performed in the 2007 Express Tour

Promising Playwright
Alumni Ambassador

Love What!? No!? Me a 10 Year Old?! What? Uh-Oh!! tells the story of Jaquelyn and her “friend” Stinky Brian. Mayra captured the discomfort, earnestness and hilarity of an elementary school love triangle.

Mayra loves to express herself creatively. In high school, she had some great advice for other young writers: “Some people think that the fact that they’re young means that nobody will listen. Through YPT I learned that people do listen. Just express yourself and don’t care what other people say.”

Mayra wrote her play as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by The Washington Rogues.


Shannon MarshallSociety Unjust by Shannon Marshall

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

Promising Playwright

Shannon Marshall explores the human face of gentrification in her play, Society Unjust. A 73 year old woman is offered a large sum of money for her house. Her choice becomes increasingly difficult, and she must decide which is more important: her past or her future?

Shannon’s experience of the gentrification happening in her own neighborhood inspired her to write her play. “One day I was walking on Georgia Avenue with some friends, and we were looking for a corner store and couldn’t find it. Instead, we saw a big condominium where the corner store used to be,” shares Shannon Marshall. “When we saw that, we were like, ’Wow, what is going on?’” She based her protagonist on her grandmother. She says of her grandmother’s experience, “Developers were saying, ’This is a historic neighborhood’, and property tax was raised, but my grandmother was very, very determined to keep living in the area. She lived there up until she passed away, when her house was sold and renovated. When I saw my play performed, I was like, ’Wow, that’s my grandmother on stage.’”

Shannon wrote Society Unjust as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Wild Women Theatre.


Amber Faith WaltonChanging Tides: Judge Me Gently by Amber Faith Walton

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

A young gay woman and a very conservative man are thrown together in Amber Faith Walton’s play Changing Tides: Judge Me Gently. Can a simple conversation change a man’s mind? How powerful are our words? And what is really at stake?

Amber’s play was inspired by her own feelings of social exclusion: “As a biracial female I’ve been hurt and ostracized in both my communities…My protagonist also shares this frustration of not having those closest to her relate to her unique experiences.” Her experience throughout the production process of her play in the 2011 New Play Festival, along with the audience’s overwhelmingly positive response, inspired her to realize she could use her writing to make a difference in the world. Amber submitted an essay about her YPT experience and was awarded $10,000 by the Federal Communications Bar Association towards her tuition at Smith College.

Amber wrote Changing Tides as a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Wild Women Theatre.


The Day After Bob Said, “Yeah, Right” by Ann Gill

First performed in the 2011 New Play Festival

Promising Playwright

Meet Bob. Bob is lazy. Bob doesn’t think this is a problem, but his mom disagrees. Is there anything that will make this slob change his ways? Find out in The Day After Bob Said, “Yeah, Right.”

“Do your best during everything because you might just write a play that gets turned into a staged play,” says Ann. “Express yourself as well as take the risk.”

Ann wrote The Day After Bob as a sixth grader at Maya Angelou Public Charter School. It will be performed at 20Fest by Young Playwrights’ Theater.


Rare and Exotic by Josh Perles

First performed in the 2002 Empower Play Festival

“If you never do anything that scares you, or makes you uncomfortable, you will never know what you are actually capable of.”

Josh wrote his play as a sophomore at Wilson High School. He graduated from New York University School of Law in 2013. Rare and Exotic will be performed at 20Fest by Young Playwrights’ Theater.

New Voices Share New Visions at New Visions/New Voices 2014

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On May 16, 2014, Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) professionals from all over the world made their way into the Family Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Laughter echoed off the wood-panelled walls as they caught up with old friends and admired the elegant space where they would spend the next three days.

They had assembled for New Visions/New Voices (NV/NV), the Kennedy Center’s biennial TYA conference and international showcase of new work. They had come from Atlanta, Minneapolis, Ireland and France. They had brought scripts, business cards and notepads for sharing ideas on how to engage new audiences and communities. They were prepared for three days of readings, panels, lunches and happy hours. They knew what they were in for.

Or did they??

Before they even had time to settle into their seats, the NV/NV audience found out they were in for a treat – YPT was in the house! Jumping onstage, YPT Artistic Director Nicole Jost announced that she had some special guests in tow who wanted to say a few words about what playwriting means to them.

ImageTo the surprise and wild applause of the crowd, out walked YPT playwrights Joshua Brown, Sam Burris, Nakia Greene and Reyna Rios! One by one, the playwrights introduced themselves, told the crowd “what kind of writer” they were, then read an excerpt from a story or play they might write for New Visions/New Voices 2020.

Their pieces, as always, were as wonderful as they are. Take a look!

 

ImageJoshua Brown

(Speech):

Hello, my name is Joshua Brown. I am an animal playwriter. I write plays about animals. (Huh?? What?? OH!! OK). My dog, Buddy, wants me to tell you that there’s a BAD guy named Serpent on the loose! (Huh?? What?? Speak up!) Oh, yeah. He’s gone for now. In case you don’t know … Serpent is EVIL! EVIL!! EVIL!!! Oh… Did I mention that he’s EVIL!? He kidnapped Buddy when he was a pup and tried to make him fight in a Dog-Fighting Arena. OK … I’ll stop talking now. Hope you enjoy my little skit!

(Excerpt):

The Bestest Friends/The Biggest Battle, Part 2 (for Part 1, click here!)
The Awakening: Serpent’s Revenge

Scene 1:

JOSH: Buddy! Give me the remote! I know you have it!!

BUDDY: Woof! Woof! No I don’t! WOOF!

JOSH: Yes you do!! I saw you with it yesterday!

BUDDY: I’m trying to catch a squirrel! Be quiet!

JOSH: Hmmm… (Thinking)

JOSH uses his super speed to run outside and scare the squirrel away.

BUDDY: Hey!!! You did that on purpose! What do you want!?!?

JOSH: I want the remote to the TV!!

BUDDY: I don’t have it. WOOF! It was destroyed in the battle with Serpent. Remember?

JOSH: Oh yeah… (Scratching his head) Speaking of Serpent, we haven’t seen him in FOREVER! What if he comes back?

BUDDY: Don’t worry … we FINISHED him off! (Grrrrr!)

Scene 2: Ten weeks later

SERPENT under rubble.

SERPENT: Oh… What??… Where am I?? Oh yeah!! That Stupid Dog and that Stupid Kid!! I’ve got to get my REVENGE … And the only way to do that is to get that Stupid Dog’s Powers!!! But how??………….

To be continued…

 

 

ImageSam Burris

(Speech):

Hi, my name is Sam Burris. I’m a playwright and I suppose a storyteller.

(Excerpt):

This is my Blue Bear. Say hello Blue Bear! My grandma got him for me in Paris when I was born. In case you haven’t notice, Blue Bear isn’t doing too great… Poor old boy has seen a lot. We’ve been through everything together. He’s been with me from my first step, to my first kiss, and even my first day of college. We’ve travelled around the world together and, well, Blue Bear is finally showing some signs of wear and tear. He’s lost an eye, his nose is coming unraveled, his legs are falling off… I don’t know what I’d do without him… So a few years ago I started looking for a way to make ‘ole Blue better! I would do anything to help my oldest friend, I mean who wouldn’t? I scoured the internet, combed through old library books, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find anything anywhere about how to put Blue Bear back together, and that scared me to death. I could only think of one other place to look. Grandma’s house. She must have some ancient secret hidden away right? And I was right. She did. Out from the pages of a dog eared and yellowed copy of “Mother Goose” fell a slip of paper, with the title “How to Fix Your Teddy Bear” scrawled across the top. I couldn’t believe my eyes! After all this time the solution to my problem was in the palm of my hand.

How to Fix Your Teddy Bear

Step 1: Gather all of the bits and piecesyou think you need to fix your teddy.

Step 2: Put them all in a small bag and put them somewhere safe.

Step 3: Hug your teddy!

Wait wait wait… This couldn’t be right! Blue Bear wasn’t fixed, he was just the same as he was before! This guide was completely worth- Wait, what’s this? Just then I noticed a note scribbled at the bottom of the paper…

P.S. I bet you’re wondering how that fixed your teddy bear… Simply put, it didn’t need to be! Your teddy bear was already perfect! All its little flaws are what make it your teddy bear, what make it special!

And then it hit me. I never loved Blue Bear any less because he was falling apart. If anything I loved him more because all those imperfections reminded me of all the adventures we had had together. They reminded me that he was my friend. My Blue Bear.

 

ImageNakia Greene:

(Speech):

My name is Nakia Greene. I’d call myself an experimental writer. I like trying different styles, different plots and different settings. There are an infinite amount of universes to explore, and I want to discover them all. I’d write a story:

(Excerpt):

“So,” John starts, almost at a loss for words. “You lost.. everyone?”

The stranger smiles and nods solemnly, his face dark. John’s heart twists.

“Yeah.” He stares at his now cold coffee, falling silent. John’s only known him for almost an hour, but he can clearly see the change in his demeanor. He tries to start, but the stranger opens his mouth before he can.

“It isn’t like the movies, really. You don’t get a new set of people to love; you don’t get a happy ever after.” His voice cracks.

John apologizes for the upteenth time that night, hesitantly putting an arm around the boy’s shoulders.

“I wish I could understand.” He says, quietly. He’s being honest; he can’t. John grew up in a wealthy household, John grew up with his family, John didn’t know real heartache.

“No, you don’t!” The stranger loudly says, suddenly breaking out of his stupor. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.” John’s arm retracts impulsively as he jumps at the sudden boldness.

The stranger dons a sheepish smile, and John rolls his eyes in a mock fashion. The quick moment of zen is gone, though, as both faces turn somber. A pair of eyes return to cold coffee. A different pair focus on those. The soft jazz of the diner’s jukebox plays idly.

John’s gaze is intense. He waits for the stranger to continue.

He doesn’t.

John licks his lips before speaking, and he looks away.

“I…” He forces himself to continue, words tumbling out of his mouth. “Do you… do you ever regret things?”

The stranger stops brooding for a moment to weigh the question.

“Unconsciously, yeah,” He says, shrugging a little. “But. I don’t think I would actively change anything that’s happened to me.”

John doesn’t reply, silently urging him to go on.

“I guess… my experiences make me, me? I don’t want to change that. I wouldn’t be the person I am right now without those experiences.” He looks up at the ceiling, contemplating what he just said.

John hums thoughtfully. “I think I can understand that, at least.”

The stranger turns to him, and stretches out an arm. “The name’s Michael, by the way.”

“John.”

 

ImageReyna Rios:

(Speech):

I am an every-character-is-the-love-of-my-life writer.

(Excerpt):

Recipe for Happiness

Year 2020. “Hello I’m Jasmine, 26 years old, teacher at Powell Elementary school.”

Jasmine walks out dressed in all grey. She sits center stage.

On stage lies lipstick, she puts it on her hand and says, “Wow, I like this color on me… What?” She looks surprised at what she said. “Wait, I can talk? I thought that the only words that I could say were all in my mind.”

She looks at some flats on the floor, “Hmm, what are these?” She puts on the flats and starts to dance. “What am I doing? I like it. It feels… it feels liberating!”

While she is dancing she steps on a piece of paper and a pencil. “Ouch, what did I just step on?” Picks up pencil. “Hmm, I wonder if this goes with this flat piece of something?”  She puts pencil to paper, and draws a flower. “This is so pretty, I wonder if these exist somewhere… I’ll call it a flower. ” Writes “sausage” on paper.

Jasmine starts looking around the room for some flowers and  a mirror, “I wonder who that is. Wait, its copying me. Stop copying me! Wait is that me? Am I that girl?…. Hmm, I have to say that I look pretty. Except for this clothes.” Jasmine takes off grey shirt and underneath has a floral patterned shirt. “Wow, that is a lot better. Look at me,” moves her hand up, “Wearing color, on my hand and looking pretty with my new sausage shirt.”

“But I can’t help but feel like something is missing, I can talk, I can dance, I can draw, I can write, I can fully express myself.” Spins around.

She walks around the stage, and notices a door. She knocks on the door, but no one opens it. She turns the knob, and walks through the door. She sees someone else sitting down with grey clothes. She walks toward them and touches their shoulder. “Hi, My name is Jasmine… Jasmine That sounds like a nice name. I’m keeping it… What is yours?”

The person looks up, but doesn’t say anything. “Hmm.” Jasmine walks around the person. “I have color.” She takes out the lipstick and draws a line on their hand. The person looks at their hand. “I’ve never seen that before.” The person slams their hand on their mouth. “What? Did I just say something?” Looks surprised, “I did! I did just say something!”

Jasmine starts laughing, “You are just like me! You probably don’t know many things.” She looks down at her shoes and takes them off. She hands them to the person sitting down. “ I am going to teach you everything I know! To dance, to write and draw, to express yourself. I will be your teacher!” Jasmine  laughs to herself.

“Who would have thought,  I found what I was missing. Another person to share my thoughts, my laughter, myself with.  I thought that I was alone, that I wasn’t capable of anything, but maybe there is a purpose in me. Maybe I was meant to teach. ”

 

Reyna ended her time by telling the audience a bit about YPT and the importance of arts education, then our fantastic playwrights left the stage to a standing ovation.

What was the reaction of the crowd? Let’s take a look at some of the tweets that came out of New Visions/New Voices that day…

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They like us—they really like us! In fact, YPT Founding Artistic Director Karen Zacarías – whose musical, Oliver of Brazil, was performed at NV/NV this year – said that we were the talk of the conference.

Thank you to the Kennedy Center for inviting us to be a part of this special event, to Karen for always advocating for our work and to YPT Board member Miriam Gonzales (herself a TYA playwright whose work has been featured in New Visions/New Voices) for helping our young people develop their scripts.

We’ll see you at New Visions/New Voices 2020!

5-Line Playwriting Tips from the Experts

It’s the last week of YPT’s 5-Line Playwriting Challenge!  Have you submitted your play yet?

We’ve already received some amazing plays from YPT’s super creative community. Check out these teasers below, including this touching play sent to us from our Young Playwrights’ Workshop alumna, Reyna Rios:reyna

I LOVE YOU

Jasmine: Hi, (shakes Martin’s his hand) my name is Jasmine Belen Martinez. People say that I am different, but I like to see that as a positive thing. I am always doing crazy things to show people how much I love and care about them.

Martin: But you don’t know me, dear Jasmine. I am just Martin Jackson, a homeless man that is invisible to everyone around me.  How do you expect me to believe that you love    someone like me?

Jasmine: Well let me show you that I do. Please say “yes?” (to be continued on December 21st!)

Or your play can be a comedy, like this one submitted by our newest board member, Catherine Crum, written with some of her friends (5-line plays can be a group effort!)

“URINE TROUBLE”: A PLAY IN ONE ACT

(two girls sit at desks.  a teacher hovers in the background.)

Girl A: (whispers) I have to pee so bad!

Girl B: Girl, you know you can’t leave during the SAT!

Teacher (slapping a ruler in his hand):  If you two continue discussing answers, you will be asked to leave, you will never go to college and you will end up playing the electric cello for pennies …

(Will she finish her SAT? Visit our YouTube channel on December 21st to find out!)

Did these great plays give you some ideas of your own? There’s still time!

Donate $25 or more before Friday and submit an original 5-line play, and you’ll get to see your play performed on YouTube.  We’re calling in the most talented artists we know – our students – to turn the tables on our supporters and bring YOUR words to life.  Plays can be funny, serious, dramatic, touching, satirical or just plain weird!  There are no wrong answers, and no idea is too crazy!  For complete challenge rules, click here.

Stuck on that first line? We know it can be hard to get started, so we went to our award-winning student ensemble for help! The Young Playwrights’ Workshop’s original plays have been featured in the Capital Fringe Festival and Intersections Festival, and will be seen in the 2013 Source Festival, so they know a thing or two about playwriting, and they agreed to share their own words of wisdom:

“Use current events! Take a piece of reality and make it fun!” – Edwin

“Never say you can’t do it. All plays start with weird ideas.” – Patriciopatricio

“Take your time. Think of a long term character, if one is used.” – Maxwell

“No matter how hard it is to think of what to write, keep it going. Don’t stop.” – Chris

Think outside the box. Think of something only your true self can write.” – Jardel

“Live your mind and express it all.” – Chrissilly

“Agarra tu papel y pon toda tu pasión y también has lo como que enserio fuera real, lo que tu estas actuando.” – Claudia

“Get silly” 🙂 – Morena

Click here now to make your donation of $25 or more to support YPT’s fall fundraising campaign, and send your 5-line play by 5pm on Friday, December 14th to abeyrle@yptdc.org.

Thank you, as always, for your support. Our students can’t wait to perform your plays!