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Parting Words from YPT Students

This year, three YPT superstars – Sam Burris, Nana Gongadze and Anna Vargas – graduated from high school. All three have been in our work since middle school, have had their plays produced and were long-term members of our Student Advisory Council. Most recently, Sam and Anna interned with us as part of their “Senior Experience” month at Washington-Lee High School.

As Sam, Nana and Anna go off to college, each left us with beautiful parting words. We have reprinted them here to celebrate their accomplishments, their growth and all they have given to the YPT family! Enjoy!


Senior Experience Reflection, by Sam Burris

FY16 SAC Show-224Imagine, if you will, being in eighth grade again. Your friend group is constantly oscillating, you are trying to decide where you are going to attend high school, and hair is growing in places where hair has never grown before. Then, in one of your most beloved classes, a stranger walks in one day. This stranger brings with them a tantalizing new idea: playwriting. With this idea comes the promise that at the end of the year, a select few lucky students will have their play professionally produced.

This was the situation I found myself in when I was first introduced to Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), a DC nonprofit which works with students in the metro area to write full-length, completely original plays. I was one of those lucky few who had their play produced in YPT’s annual New Play Festival way back in 2012 (though I started working with them in 2011) and when it came time to decide on my “senior experience” internship a whole 5 years later, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather do it.

I’ve been working with YPT consistently, though in different capacities, for the 5 years I have been affiliated with the organization. Of course, my work with them started when their In-School Playwriting Program came into my eighth grade drama class, but since then I’ve performed alongside their hallmark after-school Workshop program, been a member of their Student Advisory Council, and spoken at various events, all of which has culminated in this internship. Going into senior experience, I was not only excited to give back to an organization which had given me so much in the past, but I was also ready to learn about one of the few fields of theatre arts I was not already well versed in: arts administration.Sam & Anna Last Day

Luckily for me, that is exactly what myself and fellow senior and YPT alum Anna Vargas got throughout our internship. No one ever really considers the nitty gritty work that arts administration requires when seeing the work presented before an audience. In the past four weeks I have sorted twenty one years’ worth of records, amassed a number of quotes and drawings for use in later publications, and extensively researched DC public schools. If you ever have any questions about the demographics of Cardozo Education Campus during the 2016 Fiscal Year or the production history of Savoy Elementary School as far back as the 2011 Fiscal Year, I am your man. Sadly though, we were never sent to get coffee for the office’s senior staff members. For that, you would probably have to ask many of the other senior experience candidates.

This internship has certainly taught me innumerable things about the field of arts administration and while I think that I will stick to creation and performance for the foreseeable future, I will always cherish the time I spent here. I have known since the eighth grade that I would miss YPT when I finally went off to college. However, working with them for the past four weeks has given me not only a deeper understanding of the inner-workings of their operation, it has given me insight into why I will miss it so dearly. The YPT staff strive to be much more than just administrators, teachers, and mentors; they sincerely want to be your friend. And, in my case, they are friends who I would rather not say goodbye to.

Sam Burris will attend the New School for Drama this fall, with his eye on becoming a professional actor. We will miss him dearly, too, and wish him all the best in the Big Apple! 

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Senior Experience Reflection, by Anna Vargas

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YPT and I go waaay back.

I’ve been involved with the program since I wrote my three character murder mystery play through the in school program and was selected as a finalist for the New Play Festival in 2012. However, I’ve known YPT staff since I met Laurie Ascoli the summer of 2011, where she was my camp counselor. Since that fateful summer and following fall, I have managed to maintain my ties with YPT as a member of the Student Advisory Council for four years, up until my graduation this year.

Yet, that was not the end of my tale! Sam, my fellow New Play Festival playwright in middle school and Council member in high school, and I interned at YPT through a program at our school allowing us to use the last month of our senior years to help YPT in any way they saw fit. After a good five years, I feel like I’m a seasoned pro at YPT and know a thing or two about this organization, which I’d like to share below.

1 .) The staff and artists are everything you could ever want and more. From secret “files” being passed around the office on the day of a coworker’s birthday to the enthusiasm and creativity brought to every challenge and task they are faced with, the YPT staff dedicates themselves to showing you the best that you can be, encouraging you, cheering you on, and making you feel like part of the family. Not a single person made me feel anything less than complete every time I entered the office. These people (and the stairs up to their offices) absolutely take my breath away.

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2 .) You will learn things about yourself you never knew. I didn’t know I could write or had the skills or imagination to do so until YPT provided me the platform to not only express, but explore all corners of myself and my mind. I remember after the first in school workshop, my friends all sat around at lunch speaking of exactly what they were going to write about, while I hardly had a clue. I was sure one of their plays would prove itself better than mine, as I was not the strongest writer nor had the wildest imagination that I knew of. Yet here I am, and I am still improving daily.

3 .) The communities YPT helps are truly changed for the better. One of my jobs whilst interning was to input self assessment surveys that students took before and after the in school workshop. It warmed my heart seeing the pre survey scores for questions like “My ideas are important” improve by one to three points from before the workshop to afterwards, and the suggestions section on the back filled with pleas from students for YPT to come back next year. I have seen students talk about YPT like the teaching artists have practically hung the moon for teaching them playwriting. I know for a fact that not only this skill, but ability to believe in yourself and what you can accomplish is going to help the next generation in creating a world we would all like to live in.

So, in closing, whether you’re a seasoned YPT pro like myself, or someone who scrambled up a web address and didn’t mean to happen across this blog post but managed to read all the way to the bottom anyway, I sincerely hope you invest your time in YPT. Donate! Volunteer! Intern! Write! They deserve so much. I’m quite thankful for all the time and opportunities they have provided me over the years, including the most recent one to invade their bean bags everyday for a month. Thank you.

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Anna Vargas will attend Wellesley College in the fall. We’d better see you when you come back for Winter Break, Anna! 🙂


A Parting Letter, by Nana Gongadze

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Dearest YPT family,

It’s hard to say in a few words how much the last few years with all of you have meant to me. It has been a wonderful journey since I first stepped foot in your office four years ago – I have a clear memory of driving up for the very first NPF reception with butterflies in my stomach, because I didn’t know what I was in for or who I was going to meet. I am so thankful that what I did discover was a truly beautiful, big-hearted group of people who would inspire me so much throughout my high school days.

Thank you so much both for the experiences you all have given me, and the work you do every day. People talk sometimes about those experiences you have in your adolescent years that shape you and change you, that really impact you as a person – my time on the SAC has been one of those for me. The words we have created and achieved as an ensemble there have been some of the things I’ve been most impressed and surprised by, and most proud of. Every year I have been consistently blown away by how great our final product was, even if there were doubts along the way. Thank you so much for helping me to learn how to better work with an ensemble and a team, because those are valuable skills that I’ll surely take forward with me. Being honestly able to grow up alongside you and the little group we have has been a constant treat over the last few years and a consistent source of inspiration for me.

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I also want to say that the work you do elsewhere in our community blows me away always. It seems like an unlikely thing to come together around, playwriting, and I think that’s one of the things that makes YPT so unique. I have always been proud to be a DC resident(ish) – all the work you do in the community honestly impresses me so much and makes me want to do good too. I know that I am just one of the lives you’ve touched – saying I’m not getting emotional writing this letter would be a lie, and it makes me so happy to think that so many other students get this feeling too thanks to you. You are all such a magnificent, kind, energetic, resourceful, fun and hardworking group of people. I hope you always can be reminded of how awesome you really are.

Goodbyes are SO hard for me because I am really sentimental – but I am exaggerating in now way when I say I’m never going to forget you all! I know it is not goodbye forever and I look forward to staying in touch as I move toward the end of the weird world of teenagerdom. I have so much love in my heart for you guys and I think what you do is really truly magic. The warmest of thanks to you all for the last five years. Have a wonderful summer and always keep on keeping on.

Sincerely,
Nana Gongadze

PS: Please enjoy a small token of my thanks! It is delicious.

Nana YPTea

Nana Gongadze will attend American University in the fall. We are delighted to have her so close by, though we promise not to have her come speak at ALL our events…just some of them. 🙂 We love you, Nana!


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Meet Nora Foster and Kaitlyn Murphy!

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Kaitlyn Murphy (L) and Nora Foster (R) pose for a photo shoot.

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

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

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to reserve your tickets to Girls Write Out!

YPT Preview: GIRLS WRITE OUT!

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

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

Click here to reserve your seats!

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

Featured plays include:

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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

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

(ELOISE throws bracelet to a side. Poof!)

JAKE: (Offstage) Oh Elly!

(ELOISE and JAKE hug.)

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

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

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

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


Wish for Light, by Anderson Waltz

NPF 2015 Group A - Sun

LAUREN: Hullo yer Majesty, what do you need?

QUEEN: Are you Lauren?

LAUREN: (Sarcastically) Um… I think so.

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

LAUREN: Like, what questions?

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

LAUREN: Well—

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 19 at Sidney Harman Hall!

YPT’s 20th Anniversary Giving Voice Award Gala is this Saturday!

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Diane Rehm square Giving Back to the Future
YPT’s 20th Anniversary 
Giving Voice Award Gala

Honoring Diane Rehm
Host, The Diane Rehm Show

Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 7pm 

The National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20045

 

Eat, drink, dance and give back … to the future! Celebrate YPT’s 20th Anniversary with an elegant and eclectic Back to the Future-themed gala evening. Enjoy delicious food and drink, bid on unique silent auction prizes and dance the night away against the backdrop of the beautiful DC skyline, as seen from the historic National Press Club.

We are proud to honor Diane Rehm, renowned  broadcaster and host ofThe Diane Rehm Show on NPR, with our 2015 Giving Voice Award. Join us as we celebrate YPT students past, present and future with our 20th Anniversary Gala – it’s sure to be a night to remember!

Tickets $125, $150 Producer-level, $500 Producing Sponsorship. Click here for details on ticket levels and benefits!

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The YPT Giving Voice Award recognizes extraordinary individuals who have exemplified YPT’s spirit and vision by giving voice to the voiceless and inspiring others to realize their full potential. 

All proceeds to benefit YPT’s programming, helping us inspire thousands of local students to discover the power and value of their voices and stories in the coming year, and beyond.

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Thank You to our Generous Sponsors!

YPTC logoYPT is thrilled to announce our Presenting Sponsor for our 2015 gala, Your Part-Time Controller, LLC!

Founded in 1993 by Eric Fraint, Your Part-Time Controller, LLC, is a growing financial services firm focused exclusively on helping local and national nonprofit organizations with their accounting, financial reporting, and financial management.  With offices in DC, Philadelphia and New York City, YPTC believes in “building better accounting departments, so our nonprofit clients can build a better world.” In line with this belief, YPTC is thrilled to be sponsoring YPT’s 20th Anniversary Giving Voice Award Gala as a Presenting Sponsor.  

For the full list of 2015 gala sponsors, click here!

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.

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!

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!