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!

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!

Training Tips from Flatworm

Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause is now almost six weeks away!  We are so excited to see all the friends and community members who have registered to participate in the race for YPT, and we can’t wait for October.

We’ve been training all summer, but we all know it can be hard to stay motivated.  Luckily we have some important training tips from Flatworm himself, from Flatworm’s Courageous Act, written by student playwright Lauren White and produced in our 2011 New Play Festival and Express Tour. As YPT’s superhero team leader for the 1 Mile Fun Run, we asked Lauren to bring Flatworm back for some extra motivation as we get closer to the race! Check out what Lauren came up with for Flatworm’s special message to our walkers and runners, and don’t forget to register for the race on October 14!

Hello, beings of earth! This is Flatworm, carrying an important message from Young Playwrights’ Theater. The Race for a Cause™ 8k and 1 Mile Fun Run is coming soon, and I’ve got a few tips for you runners, joggers and crawlers!

• Never run too fast in the beginning. This is a long distance to go, just like the four foot wall that I once had to climb.

• Always keep in mind that you CAN lose. It’s good motivation to win!

• Stay hydrated! Drinking enough water is SO important when you’re doing any kind of physical activity. I personally had to learn this the hard way when I didn’t drink enough water before trying to open a bottle of peanut butter. THAT was a big mistake.

Last of all, and perhaps the most obvious of all, try your best! No matter if it’s running in a race, or if it’s defeating an evil villain, trying hard is the #1 way to succeed.

I hope these tips will really help you guys in the race!

Love,

Flatworm

I’m Running for YPT Because …

It’s hard to believe, but the mornings are getting cooler, shelves are stocked with back-to-school supplies, and here at YPT we are gearing up for an amazing new year of programming and performances. Summer is almost over, and in less than two months, YPT staff and friends will be lacing up their running (or walking) shoes to Race for a Cause on October 14th!

Why run for YPT? For a little inspiration, check out some of our staff members’ personal motivations, and register today to join us! Already registered? Share why you’re running for YPT in the comments section, or on our Facebook page and help inspire others. Let’s show Acumen Solutions that we have the best community of support around!

Name: Nicole, Associate Artistic Director

Team: Magnet Dude

I’m running for YPT because …

I want to say yes to all the schools on our waiting list. There is so much demand for our programming – we need to grow so we can serve more students!

I run … never. Never ever. That’s dedication right there! I’ll be huffing and puffing with the “go at your own pace” crew. In fact, I’ll probably be behind the crew. But I’ll be there!

Name: Alison, Development and Producing Associate

Team: Supergirl

I’m running for YPT because …

I want my first official race to support an organization that I care deeply about.

I run … sometimes. A couple miles on the treadmill, or a few laps around my block on the rare occasion when it’s not a steam bath outside. But I’m ready to go beyond my comfort zone, and what better reason to participate in my first 8k than running to support the arts, and YPT’s goal to serve more students than ever before this year! If our students are brave enough to share their dreams, hopes and fears with the world through their plays, I think I can make it to the finish line. I just may need a very large Gatorade.

Name: Laurie, Program Associate

Team: Flatworm

I’m running for YPT because …

Finally, I will be able to truly compete in something involving physical ability. 

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been extremely competitive, but have never been able to channel that into sports because I’m pathetically unathletic.  When it came to geography bees or Crypto (an awesome math game from my freshman algebra class) I was known to flip desks and scream “IN YOUR FACE!” when I was on a winning streak, but in gym class I always hung back.  I mean, I rocked at badminton when we got to play that, but anything that involved real coordination or strength was not my forte.  But now that I am in the Flatworm 1 Mile Walk/Run group, I feel confident that I can dominate over the children and elderly that will be running alongside me.  Finally, I will be able to truly compete in something involving physical ability.  Please have “Eye of the Tiger” cued up for my victory lap around Arlington.

Name: Brigitte, Acting Executive Director

Team: Magnet Dude

I’m running for YPT because …

I believe that what YPT students have to say matters. Plus, it’s a great excuse to buy sweet new running shoes.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t run. I’ve never run a city block – let alone an 8K. But I believe deeply in YPT, and I’ll do anything for our students – even it means running/walking/dragging myself over the finish line on October 14. I’ve even downloaded a running app for my phone and started thinking about my 8K playlist. That counts as training, right? I’m so excited to see the YPT community pull together this October to show YPT students that their voices matter, their stories are important and their dreams are achievable. It’s going to be an inspiring day, and I can’t wait to be part of it.

Are you already planning how to spend your share of the $2000 that Acumen Solutions will award to top race winners, or are you just excited to get outside and get some exercise with friends? Share your story with us, and follow us throughout the fall for training tips, inspirational stories and updates! Remember, the more people who race for us, the more money we raise to teach young people that their voices count! 

Thank you, as always, for your amazing support!  See you on October 14th!

For more information on the 2012 Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause8k and 1 Mile Fun Run, click here.

Spotlight on Sam Burris: YPT Featured Playwright

Sam Burris was a student in YPT’s In School Playwriting Program at Swanson Middle School last semester.  His play, The Stranger, deals with a young war veteran battling his demons after returning to the United States. Sam gives this tale a unique twist through his personification of Fear as the protagonist’s opponent.  Below, Sam talks about his experience of conceiving and writing The Stranger, which will be produced in YPT’s New Play Festival on April 24. 

Reflection on the New Play Festival Process
by Sam Burris

Like most of the kids in my all year drama class, I groaned when I heard that we were going to be writing a play every Wednesday for the next twelve weeks. But secretly, I was really looking forward to it. At first trying to write my play was really frustrating. I had a distinct idea in my head, and I just didn’t know how to put it into words. But once I got the words flowing, it was really easy and enjoyable to write this play. There were so many great plays in my class, so I was really surprised when I found out I had been selected to even be considered, let alone have my play produced.

After my play was selected, I was thrilled to learn that [YPT Program Associate] Laurie Ascoli would be my dramaturge, especially because she had been the teaching artist for my class. She was very helpful in the original process of writing my play, as well as when I had to make my final edits. Although we didn’t spend as much time together working on it, as I think some of the other playwrights may have, I never would’ve been able to write my play without her help. She guided me to make changes that helped me to better understand my own characters and find the words to describe the newfound aspects of the characters to the audience.

Throughout the whole process, I was afraid my play wasn’t “good enough”. Especially at the first read when I heard everyone elses’ plays. They were so spectacular, I was afraid to have mine read. But after I heard it read, I knew that it would do just fine. I loved hearing my words come to life through the actors. It was amazing.

I’m honored to be featured in the New Play Festival, and I’m astounded by the emotional capacity that the other playwrights express in their plays. I’m sure it’ll be great!

Sam Burris
YPT Young Playwright 

Celebrating a Season of New Plays

In 2011, YPT students wrote more than 700 new plays. That’s a staggering number! And just like literary managers at theaters across the country, we’re overwhelmed with more amazing work than we could possibly put on stage.

That’s why we send actors directly into the classroom, so all of our playwrights can hear a selection from their work performed by professionals. Students consistently report that seeing the actors is their favorite part of the In-School Playwriting Program. (In fact, our students are delighted whenever the actors visit – sometimes they beg teaching artists to “bring back the actors!”)

These in-class readings are powerful events, as students are often inspired by the work of their peers. At Bell Multicultural High School, some students were moved to tears by the work of playwright Javier Reyes, whose play was featured in the 2011 New Play Festival, and playwright Cristian Miguel, whose play was read at New Writers Now! – The Fight for Family. Both young playwrights explored difficult issues, depicting a character’s struggle with addiction, and a family’s struggle with the decision to serve in the military, respectively. There was electricity in the air in Ms. Restak’s room as seasoned actors read the plays for the first time, bringing overwhelming emotion to the tragic stories.

But when it comes to selecting our season, it can be painful to let a really good play go unseen by a larger audience. Out of that big pool of 700, only 12 plays go on to the New Play Festival. Others make it into our New Writers Now! staged reading series. And some go on to be seen by audiences across the region in our Express Tour. Our 2011-2012 season already includes 22 plays, plus additional scenes, poetry and devised work. But we wondered: could we do more?

So with this year’s New Play Festival, we decided to celebrate more student playwrights than ever before. In addition to the twelve Featured Playwrights, we named fourteen Finalists. These Finalists are the students who made it to the top level of our Reading Committee (composed of YPT Company Members, staff, teaching artists and students). There’s Paola Rivera, whose play Super Ness Save the World! impressed readers with a smug, hilarious villain named Mean Cone. (Mean Cone’s first line? “I just tipped over a building with lots of innocent people in it and they all died!” And then he delivers an evil laugh!) Then there’s Evan McLean, who wowed us with his bold decision to personify the concept of war, transforming the idea into a character with fiery red hair and an aggressive attitude. And there’s Christian Bullock, who bravely told the story of a teenager struggling to escape an abusive home. These sometimes moving, sometimes funny, always inspiring plays deserve to be heard!

In the weeks leading up to the New Play Festival showcase performances at GALA Hispanic Theatre, we’ll present plays written by these Finalists in a series of Community Readings. We launched our season of new plays with readings at our Kickoff Party in January. Then in early March, we presented exceptional work by middle school Finalists in an Arlington Community Reading. We’ll visit neighborhoods across the region to make sure each of our fourteen Finalists gets a chance to see their play brought to life.

You can check out outstanding plays written by elementary school Finalists at our Capitol Hill Community Reading on Tuesday March 20 at 7pm at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW). The evening promises to be a fun (and family-friendly!) collection of wacky characters and comic performances. And don’t miss our Featured Playwrights on April 23 and 24 at GALA!

See you there,

Nicole
Program Manager

Love Stinks

New Writers Now! – Mad Love is coming up soon! In preparation for this Anti-Valentine’s Day celebration, the YPT staff decided to share some of our worst date stories. Which do you think is truly the worst date?

1. In high school, I went to prom with a guy I had a huge crush on, but nothing ever happened, and eventually the school year ended and I moved past that.  I found out months later that he was dating my best friend behind my back during that entire time.  Definitely do not miss high school.

2. I went on one date with a girl in college, and I thought it went pretty well. But then I didn’t hear from her for a couple weeks. I figured she wasn’t interested. My suspicions were confirmed when a friend told me she was seeing someone else. Then, out of the blue, she called me and asked to come over to my house. When she arrived, she said, “We need to talk.” She had come over to break up with me! After one date! It was incredibly awkward, and I couldn’t get her to stop until she got through her whole breakup speech.

3. When I was in high school, I had an enormous crush on this boy in my theater class.  He worked at the local movie theater, so I applied for a job there to get closer to him.  I was hired, and while I loved hanging out with him, our boss was an enormous jerk who loved to make our lives miserable (he actually smeared his hand over a window I had just cleaned once to make me do it again).  Anyway, after a few months I got up the nerve to ask the boy to see Woody Allen’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion with me one night after work.  He said yes, and after a week of being terrified about it, the day arrived.  At the end of our shift, however, our boss decided to scream at us for half an hour, about what I can’t begin to remember.  By the time he was done, we had missed half the movie, and we were both so irritated that any hope I had for romance was gone.  I got over the crush soon after, but we did agree a couple of years later that if neither of us are married by Valentine’s Day 2017, we’ll meet on top of the Empire State Building and get married.  We signed our oath on a popcorn bag, so maybe we’ll end up together after all.

4. I once went on a blind date to some sort of holiday festival. The guy was awkward but really nice. All of a sudden, he said he wanted to check out what was going on at the other end and he’d be back. I thought it was weird, but went with it. Ten minutes later, I got a text from him saying, “I don’t know. Some girls kiss on the first date, right?” Clearly, this text message was not meant for me. He came back a few minutes later and I realized I would not be able to ignore this, as eventually he would look at his phone and see what had happened. I handed him the phone. He grabbed it with a blank smile, but as soon as he began reading the text message, his face morphed into an expression of sheer terror as he tried to figure out what was going on. “Wait, what? How did you..?” he fumbled.  “Oh… Oh.” When he understood, his face read utter defeat. In the end, I gave him a pity kiss. Unfortunately, he thought that meant we were in a relationship, which made the inevitable end to this story much more painful.

5. When I was a freshman in college, a guy I barely knew invited me to grab lunch at a local diner. Everything was going fine until he decided to propose to me (ring and all) as I was taking a bite of my grilled cheese sandwich. I thought he was kidding at first, and I started to laugh, but he immediately looked crestfallen, and I realized he was serious. He said something about love at first sight, and something else about fate and carrying around his mother’s ring “just in case.” I turned him down, but I’m pretty sure he got married before he graduated college. (If at first you don’t succeed…)

Now it’s your turn. Think you’ve really had the worst date ever? Send us your story and, if we like it, we’ll post it in the lobby at New Writers Now! – Mad Love. Audience members will vote on their favorite. To be included in the contest, email your best story of angst and betrayal to lharbison@yptdc.org by Friday, February 10.

Liza
Communications and Graphic Design Associate