YPT Then and Now

Happy New Year! Traditionally at this time, we present a countdown of things that we are excited for in the coming year. In honor of our 20th Anniversary, we are mixing it up a bit this year!

Start your 2015 with this list of ten YPT milestones: Then and Now. Join us in celebrating our past and gearing up for the future!

This list was first published on our Facebook page, and is being reposted here with a few edits and additions.

Writing

10

Then: In 1997, YPT celebrated our first year as an official nonprofit, offering programs in three schools in Washington, DC.

Now: YPT is projecting to serve 2,500 students in 27 schools across all eight wards of DC. We are honored to provide the opportunity for so many young people to share the power of their own voices with their communities! None of this would be possible without the support of our partner schools, our donors and funders, the DC theater community and the rest of the incredible YPT family. Thank you all for 20 great years!

 

9

ypt-pvogel-14Then: In 2012, YPT held our first ever Giving Voice Award Gala, honoring playwright Paula Vogel. The event was a huge success and Paula even led a playwriting workshop with our students beforehand!

Now: YPT’s 20th Anniversary Giving Voice Award Gala will be our biggest gala yet! The event will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 7pm at the National Press Club. Much more to come, so mark your calendars!

 

8

Then: In 2010, we launched our first In-School Playwriting Program at Lincoln Multicultural Middle School, establishing a continuum of programming between it and its feeder high school, Bell Multicultural High School.

Now: Through our Dream Impact Map, we are seeking to establish elementary, middle and high school continuums in Wards 1, 7 and 8 of DC. These will allow us to serve students in those neighborhoods three times during their scholastic careers! We can’t wait to work with them as they blossom into mature, creative and empowered adults.

 

7

Then: In 2011, YPT was excited to launch our programming at Powell Elementary School, reaching students in the Petworth neighborhood for the first time.

Now: We can’t wait to return to Powell this spring and expand into a new classroom as part of our 20 Classroom Challenge! (Cool fact: our 2015 Giving Voice Award recipient is an alumna of Powell. Who is she? Stay tuned to find out!)

Want to sponsor our new classroom at Powell? Visit our 20 Classroom Challenge page to learn more!

 

6

Then: In 2010, YPT received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. YPT student Mariana Pavon Sanchez was the only youth participant invited to speak at the ceremony. She told the large audience, which included Mariana at the White HouseFirst Lady Michelle Obama: “Don’t be afraid to express yourself through writing. It’s important.”

Now: YPT remounted Mariana’s play as part of our 20th Anniversary Festival, our celebration of 20 years of student voices and DC theater. GALA Hispanic Theatre brought Mariana’s play to life again in a powerful and resonant way!

 

5

Then: In 1999, YPT moved into the Josephine Butler Parks Center with four full-time staff members.

Now: We are proud to employ a staff of 11 artist-administrators, dozens of Teaching Artists and over 30 professional theater artists hired to bring our students’ work to life onstage and in the classroom.

Help us keep growing and support DC’s arts community by giving to YPT today!

 

4

Tech-284resThen: In 2008, YPT launched the Young Playwrights’ Workshop, an after-school ensemble open to students interested in creating and performing original, collaborative theater.

Now: YPT’s Workshop has grown more than we could have imagined, with students performing their original pieces in the Capital Fringe FestivalINTERSECTIONS and CulturalDC‘s annual Source Festival. Our students are currently hard at work on their piece for this year and we can’t wait to see their play premiere at Source on June 15, 2015 at 7pm.

 

3

Then: In 2008, we offered our first In-School Playwriting Program at Claremont Immersion School in Arlington, VA, expanding our flagship program beyond DC proper for the first time.

Now: In 2014, we took the next huge step, launching our first In-School Program at a school outside the DMV entirely: Graciela Garcia Elementary School in Pharr, Texas. Led by Teaching Artist Catherine DiSanza, Garcia’s fourth graders produced incredible work and improved their standardized test scores by 7 points in writing and 11 points in reading! The program has grown by leaps and bounds since then, and we can’t wait to reach even more of South Texas’ bright and inventive young people.

2

Then: In 2009, YPT premiered Choosing Change, a collaborative piece created by adjudicated youth at Oak Hill Academy, in partnership with Mentoring Today and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Through poetry, Choosing Changeprose and interactive storytelling, Choosing Change shared the heart of those who traveled through the DC Juvenile Justice System – and how the system is regaining its heart.

Now: Oak Hill is now New Beginnings Youth Development Center, and YPT will bring our program to a new group of scholars there this spring. Recently, New Beginnings teacher Chelsea Kirk told us: “[Your] playwrights … helped my scholars see that their life stories and the struggles, successes, issues, and concerns that they face each day shouldn’t be hidden or untold, but … can come to life.” It is our honor to help these young people bring their stories into the world.

1

Then: In 1995, playwright Karen Zacarías returned to her hometown of DC with an MFA in playwriting and a deep desire to use her art to positively impact her community. She began volunteering teaching playwriting in one school and our story began.

Now: Now in our 20th year, YPT serves over 2,000 students per year across the DC metro area and beyond. Our professional productions bring over 25 student-written plays into the community every year, and our special projects have impacted young people from Texas to Detroit to Russia.

Ring in the new year with a gift to YPT and see where our work will take us next!

Lauren Watches Professional Actors Perform Her Play

Introducing our 20th Anniversary Festival partners!

20Fest logo FINAL

Meet Team #20Fest!

In honor of our 20th anniversary year, YPT is launching our performance season with a very special showcase: The 20th Anniversary Festival! This celebration of young voices and DC theater will bring together ten dynamic local theater companies to remount some of the best-loved plays from throughout our twenty-year history.

On Friday, December 12, 2014, at 7pm at Theater J, YPT will join forces with nine other DC-area theater companies to bring twenty beloved student-written stories back to life onstage. From Tornado Boy to Society Unjust, these plays represent some of the funniest, most inventive and most poignant works our young playwrights have created over the years. We produced these plays when they were first written, then published them all in our first commercially available book, Write to Dream, in 2012. Now, they will be reborn in the unique styles of ten terrific Greater Washington theater companies!

We are so excited to have these talented artists put their own spin on these classic YPT plays. The 20th Anniversary Festival is going to be the event of the season, and we hope you join us to celebrate twenty years of imagination, inspiration and young talent!

Read on for descriptions of each of the participating theaters. Another post featuring the #20Fest plays and playwrights is coming soon, so stay tuned to our blog for more information!


dog & pony dcdog&pony  

dog & pony dc is an ensemble of artists who devise innovative performances that incorporate new ways for audience to experiences theatre.

Whether it’s an ultra-violent live-action version of the Punch and Judy puppet show, or an imagined civic ceremony that ignites debate about a time capsule’s contents, dog & pony dc shows playfully explore the elastic relationship between artist and audience. dog & pony dc likes to think that going to their shows is like going to a concert…a rock concert. Everyone’s energized and engaged in the moment, and sometimes the audience ends up on stage.

Interested in getting involved with dog & pony dc? They’re holding FREE audience integration workshops now through November 22!


Upcoming production:
Sing Me a Song
November 08, 2014, at 7:30pm at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
FREESing me a Song

Willadean Wills collects songs and she has been doing it for longer than you can imagine. But she doesn’t collect them to keep them for herself, she shares them with anybody that wants to learn. In Sing Me a Song, you are invited into a world encompassing the songs of several generations and cultures. Willadean shares her love of songs and singing with the audience and encourages them to do the same, engaging them through conversation, interview, and music.

Sing Me a Song is dog & pony dc’s entry to the 2015 Women’s Voices Theatre Festival, of which YPT is also a part!


FoF logoFaction of Fools Theatre Company   

Faction of Fools is a professional, not-for-profit Commedia dell’Arte troupe based in Washington, DC, and active around the world. Winner of the 2012 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company, Faction of Fools preserves and promotes this Renaissance theatre style by both respecting its heritage and exploring its future.  Through performances, actor training, international initiatives, and educational outreach, Faction of Fools embodies a Commedia dell’Arte that is theatre at its best: physical discipline, spontaneous imagination, collaborative energy, and joyous wonder.

Upcoming production:

The Great One-Man Commedia Epic
Nov 28 – Dec 20, 2014, at Capitol Hill Arts WorkshopCommedia flier
Tickets: $10-20
Created and performed by Matthew R. Wilson

One Actor. Twelve Characters. 1000 Catastrophes.

In this comic tour de force, a single actor brings to life an entire town of squabbling parents, dim-witted servants, and young lovers whose wedding plans are ruined until love prevails and comedy triumphs. Premiered in Italy and performed in London and New York City, THE GREAT ONE-MAN COMMEDIA EPIC receives its first extended run in DC at CHAW this holiday season. Fun for the whole family!

Watch the trailer and buy tickets here!


Forum logo

Forum Theatre   

Forum Theatre produces adventurous, relevant, and challenging plays from a diversity of voices that inspire discussion and build community — and that are accessible, affordable, and entertaining.

Since Forum Theatre’s inception, it has aimed to be both the home for stories that provoke discussion and the place to host that discussion. Forum wants its plays to be a conversation with the audience. Forum tells stories about who we are as a local, national, and global community.

Upcoming productions:

How We Got On
By Idris Goodwin
Directed by Paige Hernandez
Oct 30 – Nov 23, 2014, at The Silver Spring Black Box Theatre
Tickets: $35How We Got On

Set to the music of the late 80’s rap scene, How We Got On is a coming-of-age story about three suburban kids, Hank, Julian, and Luann and how they navigate tumultuous family relationships, cultural isolation, and the search for authenticity. A sultry DJ re-mixes their lives as they use music to discover and express themselves in places words fail.

How We Got On premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville in the 2012 Humana Festival. Idris Goodwin, playwright, essayist, and spoken word artist, uses his cross-discipline talent to tell this contemporary ode to the roots of rap.

How We Got On features YPT Teaching Artist and Company member Manu Kumasi! YPT Fundraising Fellow Natalie Piegari is also interning as the assistant to Forum’s Artistic Director, Michael Dove.

Click here for tickets!

Walking logoWalking the City of Silence and Stone
By Stephen Spotswood
Directed by Jess Jung
November 2014 – Summer 2015

WORLD PREMIERE CITY-SPANNING AUDIO DRAMA

A girl shoves a notebook into your hands. Moments later, she falls from a Metro platform into the path of an oncoming train. Was it a tragic accident? Suicide? Or the latest in a series of sinister events that have their roots deep in the heart of the city? Whatever the answer, it’s the first step in a journey to discover who this girl was and what momentous secret she uncovered that led her into the path of the creature known as the King of Worms.

One part murder mystery, one part ghost story, one part intimate drama: WALKING THE CITY OF SILENCE AND STONE is a site-specific audioplay that uses the entire city as its set piece. To be released in nine parts throughout the season, this world premiere will lead the audience from one end of Washington, D.C. to the other, peeling back the familiar skin of the District to show the strange world that lies just underneath.

Episode 1 just released – CLICK HERE to listen! Recommended listening location: the DC Metro.


GALA logo  GALA Hispanic Theatre  

GALA Hispanic Theatre is the National Center for Latino Performing Arts in the nation’s capital, fostering an understanding and appreciation of Latino arts and culture by a large and diverse public.

GALA preserves and promotes Latino arts and culture and shares this rich Hispanic heritage through its theatre productions and other diverse performing arts programs. By developing, producing and presenting works that explore the breadth of Latino performing arts with its company of bilingual artists, GALA provides opportunities for the Latino artist, educates youth and engages the entire community in an exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Upcoming productions:
10th International Flamenco Festival
November 7 – 16, 2014, at GALA Hispanic Theatre

FLAMENCO(S) DE PLOMO Y COBRE
Mariana Collado & Carlos Chamorro
Nov 13-15, 8 pm  /  Nov 16, 2 pm
Tickets: $20-35

U.S. premiere, direct from Madrid! Mariana Collado and Carlos Chamorro explore the power, intimacy and immensity that are flamenco.

Click here for tickets!


FLAMENCO EN FAMILIA
Flamenco en Familia

November 15, 11 am and 1:30 pm
FREE

Free interactive demonstrations with castañets, fans, and zapateo for children and the entire family led by members of the Spanish Dance Society and other local flamenco artists.


NRlogoBlackTag-2

No Rules Theatre Company 

No Rules’ mission is to present the broadest spectrum of high quality, accessible, truthful theatre that will open the minds and expand the expectations of a diverse audience. Other than this, there are no rules.

No Rules Theatre Company found its origins at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In just a few short seasons NRTC has grown rapidly, thanks in no small part to its reputation for consistently strong casting, experiential designs and dynamic programming. In 2011 No Rules received the Helen Hayes Award for Best Emerging Theatre Company in recognition of the company’s talent and unique contribution to the city’s artistic landscape. Now moving into its fourth season, the company is thrilled to be in residence at the Tony Award© winning Signature Theatre Company in Arlington, VA as well as the state-of-the-art Hanesbrands Theatre in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem, NC.

 Upcoming productions:

In Love and WarcraftIn Love and Warcraft
By Madhuri Shekar
Directed by Joshua Morgan
Winner – 2014 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition
January 7 – 25, 2015 at Signature Theatre
Tickets: $15

In this Washington, D.C. premiere, the worlds of online gaming and in person relationships collide in this up-to-the-minute comedy about straddling the real world and the virtual one. Evie Malone is a college student, a World of Warcraft master, and a virgin. She also makes a little extra cash by writing love letters for people who can’t quite manage their own real relationships. No amount of digital gaming expertise or even her virtual boyfriend can help her out when she finds herself with a handsome, non-virtual, boyfriend, who is ready to rock her worlds.

Click here for tickets!

UnlimitedUnlimited: the Music and Lyrics of Stephen Schwartz
Conceived by Matt Cowart and Joshua Morgan
Arrangements and Orchestrations by Zak Sandler
Directed by Sally Boyett
Musically Directed by Brian Lilly
February 20 – 28, 2015 at the Catholic University of America
This production is co-produced with The Catholic University of America.

From Godspell to Pippin to Wicked, award-winning lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz has touched the hearts of audiences around the world. Come explore Unlimited, a journey of coming of age and trying to find one’s place in the world, as told through the songs of this celebrated composer.


Pinky Swear logoPinky Swear Productions  

Pinky Swear’s Mission is to produce modern plays with well-crafted, believable, engaging women’s roles where people talk to each other and things happen. Their productions are a little funny, a little dark and a lot entertaining.

Their goals are to:

  • Build a company in which local theatre artists can make a living in our community.
  • Raise the profile of women’s voices in theatre by hiring women artists and technicians whenever possible.
  • Enable artists to experiment with new avenues of expression.

Upcoming productions:

Tiny House Plays pic
From Tiny House Plays

2015 holds two brand-new plays from local playwrights. In July, Pinky Swear will be producing Stephen Spotswood‘s* new play, The Last Burlesque, wherein we meet the people behind the smoke and mirrors.

October brings a new work by Donna Rachelle, The Brewery,** for the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Donna represents Pinky Swear’s first foray into an “Adopt a Playwright” program, in which they sponsor a promising playwright from concept through production.

Watch for other surprises in spring!

* Pinky Swear company member
**title subject to change


RT-logo-colorRorschach Theatre 

Through uncommon uses of environment and intimate passionate performances, Rorschach Theatre seeks to lure its audiences beyond the limits of ordinary theatrical experience so that they may discover new elements of their own humanity.

From She Kills Monsters
From She Kills Monsters

Rorschach Theatre is a company that has received significant acclaim for its fierce performance style, its bold use of theatrical space and its dedication to challenging works that are at once relevant and timeless. The company’s work has focused on helping to reveal the contemporary relevance of fable, finding magic in rough spaces, connecting timeless works to a contemporary audience.

Recently, YPT staff members Nicole Jost and Natalie Piegari wrote one-act plays for Rorschach’s theater event, KLECKSOGRAPHY: Haunting Monsters!

Upcoming Productions: Check back for updates on the Rorschach website!


Washington Rogues logoThe Washington Rogues  

The Washington Rogues are a daring new performing arts collective dedicated to showcasing new and exciting works with an emphasis on political and social commentary. With a strong Do-It-Yourself aesthetic, The Rogues are able to create first rate theater on a minimal budget. We pride ourselves on offering opportunities to developing artists as they begin and develop their careers in the nation’s capital.

Click here to read an article by Rogues actor and Washington Post columnist Rachel Manteuffel, about her work in the Rogues’ recent production of The Campsite Rule!

Upcoming Productions: Check back for updates on the Rogues’ website!


WWT Logo

Wild Women Theatre   

From Letters To and From Me
From Letters To and From Me

Founded in 2012, Wild Women Theatre (WWT) explores multiple dimensions of Black womanhood through storytelling, movement, poetry, and song. Wild Women Theatre was founded by some of the founding members of the performance ensemble formerly known as The Saartjie Project which presented original theatre performance from 2008 – 2012: Jade Andwele, margaux delotte-bennett, Shonda Goward, Farah Lawal Harris and Clarissa McKithen. The

company currently includes margaux, Farah and Clarissa, along with a few dedicated area performers and technical crew members.

Founding company member Farah Lawal Harris is a long-time YPT Teaching Artist and company member, who now works as our full-time Program Associate!

Upcoming productions: Check back for updates on Wild Women’s website!


YPT couldn’t be more thrilled to bring together this all-star team of theater companies that reflects the rich and diverse theater community in the nation’s capital. We are so honored that they are all stepping up in support of young artists in Washington, DC. We can’t wait to see how they bring our students’ voices to life, and we hope that you join us for this very special, one-night-only event!

For more information, please visit yptdc.org/Events/20Fest/.

See you at #20Fest!

April Pizza Adventures Part II: Flippin’ Pizza

After a recent exploration of “New Haven-style” pizza at Pete’s Apizza, for YPT’s next pizza party we decided to travel further down the east coast for some authentic, New York style pizza. On April 12, Flippin’ Pizza in Dupont Circle generously hosted a “Community Builders” night for YPT, donating 50% of proceeds from YPT supporters.  So on Thursday night, I celebrated “it’s-almost-Friday” by recruiting some friends and heading over to Flippin’ Pizza – a cozy, subterranean pizza joint in the heart of Dupont Circle, bustling with families, young professionals catching up over a post-work slice and people stopping in to pick up a giant 18” pizza for dinner. As for the pizza?  People often complain that compared to New York, our city is lacking in the pizza department, but at Flippin’ Pizza I found a delicious little bit of New York, right in the middle of Washington, DC.

Highlights:

  • The crust!  Thin and chewy … so delicious!
  • Huge slices, for a very reasonable price (yet somehow, I still managed to eat two)
  • While I stuck with plain cheese (sometimes, you just crave the classics), Flippin’ offers both “white” and “red” specialty pizzas. One friend sampled the tomato, basil and garlic white pizza, marveling: “you can really taste the basil!”
  • Whether you’re working in Foggy Bottom, living in Woodley Park or walking over from the YPT HQ in Columbia Heights, you can’t beat the location.
  • The super-friendly staff, and homey, “local pizza joint” atmosphere.
  • And of course, how amazing Flippin’ Pizza is for hosting fundraising nights for local organizations, and pledging half of the proceeds from these events.

A big thanks to Flippin’ Pizza for hosting a very successful second YPT pizza fundraiser to benefit our New Play Festival.  In addition to Dupont Circle, they also have locations in Northern Virginia and even at Nationals Park, so I will definitely be enjoying more of their giant slices in the future.

Next up: get ready for a YPT Pizza Party marathon!

On Tuesday, April 17, 14th Street’s HomeMade Pizza Company is generously donating a portion of proceeds to YPT from every large pizza, large salad, order of breadsticks and gift card sold for the entire day (1pm – 10pm). Their menu highlights delicious, homemade-style pizza from fresh ingredients. They also have a variety of salads and desserts, in case you’re tired of pizza (if that’s even possible), and gluten-free options. Remember it’s all day – and pick-up only, at 1522 14th St, NW.  See you there!

Then on Wednesday, April 18, we’re kicking off the New Play Festival with a celebratory happy hour at RedRocks Pizzeria, just a few blocks from the Columbia Heights metro. RedRocks is generously donating 30% of happy hour proceeds to YPT, and we’re hoping to celebrate with many friends (21 and older for this one, please) as we get ready for the big event next week.  RSVP for the happy hour here!

And don’t forget – the YPT Pizza Photo contest is still on! Check out our Facebook albums from our past two pizza parties for inspiration, and share your own photos for a chance to win a prize at the New Play Festival (more pizza? a gym membership? the possibilities are endless!)

See you on Tuesday, and until then, stay hungry!

Alison
Development and Producing Associate

(and official YPT pizza critic)

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 

Workshop Visitors Inspire and Get Inspired

Workshop and Chinese Theater ArtistsLast week, our Young Playwrights’ Workshop participated in their third international exchange of the year. Six Chinese theater artists visited our studio space along with two translators to learn more about theater in the US. It was fitting that the students were in the midst of writing and rehearsing an original play about meeting strangers!

Everyone introduced themselves and why they were spending that afternoon in YPT’s studio. The Chinese theater artists spoke of their dreams of visiting the US, and the enthusiasm with which they partook in every activity during their trip. Our students were, as always, well-spoken and inspiring when it came to explaining why they were there. Patricio said, “I come to YPT because I can be more creative here than anywhere else” and was met with nods of approval. “I come here to get a new perspective on life,” proclaimed Amber, and her sentiments were echoed by Kevin. I think I was as affected by their answers as our visitors were! Already people were getting a better sense of each other. Working with these students all year as the assistant in the Workshop, I see them bursting with creative energy each week, but it was touching to actually get a chance to hear from them about why they keep coming back.

Inspired by the students’ play and this real experience of meeting strangers, the students and visitors wrote monologues about a time when they met a stranger who changed them. This person could have affected their life in some momentous way, or just made them see things differently for a moment.

Workshop students and Chinese theater artists write monologuesMany of our visitors chose that very day as the inspiration for their monologues. With the help of the translators, we heard tales of their experience so far in DC. One man said being here was like a dream and he was waiting to be pinched and awakened. Another credited a specific Workshop student for drawing in the group with her warm smile and kind demeanor, saying she made them feel so welcome and comfortable despite the language barrier. The final monologue tied together the afternoon, with the Chinese visitor speaking movingly about her experience watching the Workshop students write, perform and interact. Throughout the hour and a half, she had learned so much about them, and shared so much of herself. We were strangers. We are not anymore.

See the Young Playwrights’ Workshop’s play on June 11 at GALA Hispanic Theatre!

Liza
Communications and Graphic Design Associate

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