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!

“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

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.

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!

Announcing YPT’s 5-Line Playwriting Challenge

This winter, YPT is turning the tables and giving our supporters the chance to be playwrights!

YPT couldn’t ask for better supporters. Over the years, you’ve packed houses at performances, participated in our online contests, joined the conversation on Facebook, gotten 15 to give 15, and run an 8k for us, all helping us grow to serve almost 2,000 students throughout the DC region each year. But demand for YPT’s programs grows, we do not currently have the capacity to reach all the students on our waiting list. That’s where you come in.

Our students really want you to say yes to them … so they’re going to say yes to you.

We’ve seen how YPT has impacted our alums as they’ve gone on to study everything from theater to business to neuroscience, and we think everyone should get the opportunity to be a playwright. So here’s your chance!

Now through December 14th, donate $25 or more to YPT and send us an original 5-line play, and our students will perform YOUR play.

Here’s how it works:

1) Donate $25 or more to YPT here or mail your check, made out to Young Playwrights’ Theater, to 2437 15th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20009.

2) Write a 5-line play and email it to abeyrle@yptdc.org by 5pm on December 14, 2012.

3) YPT elementary school students will rehearse and perform your play in their classroom and YPT staff will film it.

4) On December 21, YPT will post all the plays on our YouTube channel.

5) Share your play with your family and friends and show your support for arts education and our students!

Your donation will help YPT say YES to new classrooms and shrink our waiting list, helping more students discover the power of their voices and stories through playwriting. And to thank you, YPT students will share YOUR story with the world.

Play Guidelines:

1) Your play must be no more than five lines.

2) Your play must have two characters.

3) You must use the phrase “say yes” somewhere within the play.

4) Plays will be performed by elementary school students, so age-appropriate language and subject material please!

5) Your play must be submitted to abeyrle@yptdc.org by December 14, accompanied by a donation of $25 or more to support YPT’s fall fundraising campaign.

Tips:  Use your favorite books, movies or even pop culture as inspiration (age-appropriate please). Include a conflict! Think outside the box! As we’ve seen from our students’ plays, even inanimate desk objects can become vivid characters. There are no wrong answers, and no idea is too crazy!

Help YPT make our holiday fundraising campaign our biggest ever, and show our students that anyone can be a playwright. Click below to make your donation and get started!

Need inspiration?  Here are some examples!

Inspired by The Book and the Restless by Aayanna Collier (featured in YPT’s 2012 New Play Festival and 2012 Express Tour)

The Book and the Restless: The Proposal

BENJAMIN: Annie, will you marry me?

ANNIE: Oh Benjamin! I really want to say yes … but before I do I need to tell you something … something that I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time …

BENJAMIN: What is it?  Are you in love with Manny? (Annie shakes head) A Geography Goon?  (Shakes headPerry?  (Shakes head) Then what? What could possibly stop us from living happily ever after in the fairy tale section?

ANNIE: I … I think I want to become a vegetarian.

BENJAMIN: (Faints)

The 5-Line Play: Can It Be Done?

NO: Say, Yes?

YES: What?

NO: Will you help me write this five-line play? I really want to help YPT serve more students and see my play on YouTube!

YES: No.

NO: HA! THE END!

Still stuck? We’re here to help! For updates, inspiration and playwriting tips be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter throughout December!

Thank you, as always, for your amazing support.  We can’t wait to read your plays!

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