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.

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

Have you heard the exciting news?

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEAM SUPERGIRL

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

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

TEAM MAGNET DUDE

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

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

TEAM FLATWORM

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

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

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

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

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

Alison, Development and Producing Associate

 

April Pizza Adventures Part III: HomeMade Pizza Company

YPT’s Pizza Adventures continue! On Tuesday, April 17, HomeMade Pizza Company’s Logan Circle location generously sponsored YPT’s third pizza fundraiser, donating part of proceeds from all sales of large pizzas, salads, breadsticks and gift cards for the entire day to support the New Play Festival (they even opened two hours earlier than usual for our event!)

Our pizza party on Tuesday was, in fact, an adventure, but with a delicious happy ending. Upon arrival at HomeMade we discovered their unique business model = no ovens (note to self: thoroughly research all pizza places before arrival). HomeMade offers a unique spin on “homemade pizza” by selling pre-made pizzas, breadsticks and desserts that you bring home and cook in your own oven, to capture that just-made taste without having to go out and buy all the ingredients. Luckily, they also had a variety of delicious salads, so YPT’s afternoon break became a salad break (my Cabo Salad was topped with delicious avocado slices and honey-lime dressing, while other staff members sampled a pear and goat cheese salad and their aptly-named “Big Salad”).

Yet, intrigued by this concept, I stopped by HomeMade after work to pick up a large veggie pizza, snuck it on the metro, and recruited a friend for a pizza party in the comfort of my living room. We stuck it in the oven, and ten minutes later we were enjoying delicious pizza with that “just-made” taste.

Highlights:

  • Convenient and tasty! Since the pizzas are put together and packaged as you wait, you get a fresher taste than a frozen pizza without any cooling time in between cooking and delivery, offering that perfect and often unobtainable just-melted cheese taste.
  • The veggie pizza was delicious, and they have lots of other specialty pizzas.
  • If you do need to grab food on the go, a big thumbs up for the salads.
  • Giant cookie-shaped dough to bring home and cook in your oven (or take a risk and eat raw if you can’t wait) … next time!
  • HomeMade’s commitment to give back to the community by hosting “four cheese fundraisers” for schools and non-profit organizations. Yum!

And this is it!  We only have ONE more pizza party fundraiser to go before the New Play Festival, and it’s tonight! 

Join YPT at RedRocks Pizzeria in Columbia Heights for a happy hour as we celebrate the end of pizza party season and the kick-off of the New Play Festival next Monday. RedRocks is a popular neighborhood restaurant with delicious neopolitan-style pizza (European-style thin crust) and they have great happy hour specials for a perfect mid-week pick-me-up – and 30% of happy hour proceeds will go to benefit YPT.

RSVP for our Facebook event here, or just stop by tonight from 5-8pm (friends 21 and older please).  We can’t wait to see you there!

So until 5pm tonight … stay hungry!

Alison
Development and Producing Associate

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

What’s So Great About YPT? Ask the Students.

This Wednesday evening, a group of very special guests dropped by our YPT Board meeting. Five members of YPT’s Young Playwrights’ Workshop and new Student Advisory Council shared pizza and cookies with our Board of Directors and talked about their experience working with YPT.

They had participated in YPT programming in a variety of ways – as students in our In-School Playwriting Program and our after-school Young Playwrights’ Workshop, and as featured playwrights and performers in our New Play Festival and our New Writers Now! reading series. They were YPT experts – a true authority on our work in and out of the classroom.

Listening to these students share their thoughts – on YPT and the value of arts education, on school, on their dreams for the future – was deeply inspiring.

One student described her experience as a shy student, afraid to speak out in class. She credited YPT with helping her find her voice and share her ideas with confidence. (Listening to her speak, it was hard to believe that she had ever been a quiet student.) “I want to thank you,” she told the board. “Without you, I wouldn’t be here speaking like this today.”

Another student said that YPT is like a family. She explained that YPT’s Young Playwrights’ Workshop provides her with the opportunity to interact with students that would never be friends or even necessarily feel comfortable speaking with one another in school. At YPT, these students are equals, removed from the clique culture of the school day, and working together to create something bigger than themselves.

One Board member asked the students what they would say to a principal or administrator if he or she decided to cut YPT from their menu of in-school and after-school programming. All five students vehemently responded, “We would never let that happen.”

One of the students – the one who described herself as formerly shy – explained that YPT teaches students to learn and think creatively, and that this kind of thinking is the glue that connects and holds all the other academic and extracurricular activities together. “Without YPT,” she said, “everything else would just shatter.”

Another Board member asked the students how YPT could make their experience even better. The students threw out a number of ideas to build on existing programs – like finding ways to include YPT alumni in programming after they move on to college.  They expressed a strong desire to return to YPT after graduation to serve as mentors and advocates for their younger peers. (We think that’s a great idea.)

One of the younger students told the Board Chair that we should find a way to let kids know that writing a play with YPT is different and better than “just another writing assignment.”

“What makes it better?” the Board Chair asked.

The student shrugged. “It’s fun.”

Interested in meeting our students and joining in on the fun? Check out New Writers Now! – Mad Love, on February 13, our next free professional performance of student work (and our first-ever anti-Valentine’s Day celebration).


Brigitte
Deputy Director