“One in the Chamber” Response Plays

OITC 1
(L to R) Noah Chiet, Dwight Tolar, Adrienne Nelson, Liz Osborn and Danielle Bourgeois in One in the Chamber

In late 2014, former YPT Teaching Artist and longtime supporter Adrienne Nelson approached YPT’s Student Advisory Council with a compelling project. She and her team were launching the DC premiere of One in the Chamber, a new play about children and gun violence, and they wanted the Council to get involved.

Stage Fright-503Seeking young people’s perspectives on guns, the Chamber team invited the Council to write response pieces to the play. Four students wrote pieces, and two were selected for a FREE staged reading after the closing performance on Sunday, September 6.

Read excerpts from the four response plays below, then come to Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint on 9/6 for a gripping performance and free staged reading! The play begins at 8pm, the reading at 9:30pm.

RSVP on Facebook for more information!

Featured Plays

Our Crafted Night, by Cameron Byrd

Cameron ByrdWINNAH: Guns are okay and all– But who’d want a gun as a gift. I’d rather have skates or a bike.

ELENA: I didn’t know you knew how to handle a gun.

WINNAH: I don’t. I’m not even allowed to know where it is in the house. But every time my father goes out hunting, he comes back with dead squirrels, rabbits. Once he even brought back a whole deer. I felt horrible at first, just lying there looking pitiful. But once momma cooked it, it was delicious.

ELENA: Well your father’s rules apply here in the palace too, Winnah. No handling of anything that looks like its dangerous.  And the same goes for Anna too, okay? There’s a lot going on these days, and I want you both to stay safe. Promise me.

WINNAH: Okay, I promise.

The Life and Times of Julie Parker, by Anna Vargas

IMG_8080ANDY (ADULT): They say when you die, your life flashes before your eyes.

LIGHTS UP on JULIE (YOUNG) standing neutral in front of a swingset as ANDY (ADULT) continues to speak from the side of the stage, papers in his hand.

ANDY (ADULT): I find that ridiculous. First of all, if your entire life was condensed into a single flash, a single moment, it would go by so fast you won’t be able to register the fact that it was your life before it would be over. So for this to be true, it would have to be select scenes from your life. But what dictates what parts are chosen? The happiest moments? The moments most crucial to your development as a person? The saddest moments? Your first steps? Your first breath? What could be so important to relive right before you forget it all?

Finalist Plays

Red Cabinet, by Paul McCoyer

Paul McCoyerELIZA: Ben.

BEN: What?

ELIZA: Can you play checkers with me?

BEN: Sure, lemme go get the board…

He exits. ELIZA notices the red cabinet.

ELIZA: (Shouting) Ben!

BEN: (Shouting from offstage) What?

ELIZA: (Shouting) What’s in the red cabinet?

BEN: (Shouting from offstage) I dunno, why don’t you open it if you’re so curious?

ELIZA sighs, gets up from the table, and opens the cabinet door. She removes a small handgun from the cabinet with a mixed look of curiosity and awe and takes it back to the table with her. BEN re­enters.

BEN: Couldn’t find the checkers and (Tone changes to a worried one) WOAH where did you get that??

ELIZA: (Nonchalantly) In the red cabinet.

BEN: (Nervously) You know what that is, right, Liz?

ELIZA: Yeah. It’s a gun. It’s cool.

BEN: No, no, it’s not cool, it’s dangerous, and you need to put it down right now.

Dodge, by Will Larrocca

Will Larroca(MICHAEL is at a bar.)

M: Bourbon.

(ASHLEY walks next to him.)

A: A Budweiser please.

(She glares at him.)

M: Do I know you?

A: No.

M: Then do you mind not glaring at me? (ASHLEY still glares at him.) Oh, I get it. You watch the news.

A: Maybe.

M: So I’m going to guess that you know who I am.

A: Yes.

M: I’m gonna take another guess and say that you don’t like me.

A: (Sarcastically) You’re good at this.

M: Thank you. Well, let’s get this over with. What do you want to say to me?

A: I just want to let you know that I think you should be ashamed of yourself.

M: (Sarcastically) Wow, you think I should be ashamed! That really hurts my feelings. Well, I don’t feel ashamed so you can save that one.

A: Really? You don’t feel any guilt?

M: Nope. I mean, I’m sorry that he died, but I’m not ashamed of anything I did.

For more of these powerful, poignant student-written plays, come to the FREE staged reading on Sunday, September 6 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets. Recommended for ages 13 and up due to adult subject matter.

OITC cast

A New Beginning

Welcome Thembi-67res

Dear YPT family,

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Thembi Duncan and I am YPT’s new Creative Programs Director. I am overjoyed to meet all of you, and to take on a leadership role in an organization I have loved and admired for so long!

Allow me to tell you a bit about myself: I was born and raised in the DC area, studied Theatre at the University of Maryland and have been dedicated to DC’s young people and performing arts community throughout my artistic career here. I began as an actor, then transitioned into playwriting, teaching and producing—though I still find myself on stage every so often. 🙂 Before coming to YPT, I was the Lead Teaching Artist at Ford’s Theatre, the Producing Artistic Director of the African Continuum Theatre Company and a co-founder of UMD’s Black Theatre Symposium.

YPT Company
YPT actors from long ago!

When I was first getting my start in DC theater, I met an up-and-coming playwright named Karen Zacarías, who told me about a new arts education nonprofit she had founded called Young Playwrights’ Theater. Before she could even finish explaining it to me, I was hooked. The idea of creating avenues for young people to freely express themselves, and then hiring professional actors to realize their visions, spoke to me on so many levels: as an artist, a black woman and a new mother, I saw right away the potential for YPT to transform young peoples’ lives. “Where do I sign up?” I asked. Karen Evans, YPT’s Managing Director at that time, was another huge influence on my decision to contribute my talents to the nurturing of young playwrights.

Processed with VSCOcam with g2 preset
Reading my piece at Silence Is Violence

For the next several years, I worked on and off with YPT, performing student-written plays alongside such DC theatre luminaries as Jefferson Russell and KenYatta Rogers. My crowning achievement as a YPT actor came when I was cast as Lil’ Red in Lil’ Red in Da Hood, a YPT Communitywrites! production that we performed at the Carnegie Institute of Washington and the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Since then, I have stayed involved with YPT in an artistic capacity, most recently reading a poem I wrote at Silence Is Violence, YPT’s inspiring #BlackLivesMatter community event.

Though, over the last few years, my career has taken me away from working directly with YPT, the organization and the young people it serves have always been near and dear to my heart. Thus, when I found out that YPT was hiring a Creative Programs Director, I jumped at the chance! This truly is a dream job for me, as it not only combines my two great loves—theater and education—but it also gives me a chance to make a difference in the lives of DC’s young people, every single day.

Tubman Beaut Day 2015-8
Volunteering at Tubman Elementary School with my daughter, Nadia

I am truly grateful to the YPT team for entrusting me with this mission, and to the YPT family for supporting this work for over 20 years. I cannot wait to meet the young playwrights of the 2015-16 In-School Playwriting Program, dive into our 2015-16 performance season and help plan exciting new collaborations with students and artists across DC and beyond! Stick around—it’s going to be a great year.

Again, it is a great honor to be a part of this terrific organization, and I look forward to accomplishing great things together. I hope to meet each and every one of you at our upcoming performances and events!

All my best,

Thembi Duncan
Creative Programs Director,
Young Playwrights’ Theater

Welcome Thembi-53res

The 2015 New Play Festival: Super Awesome Extras

2015 NPF Postcard FRONT FINAL

YPT’s 2015 New Play Festival is just around the corner! April 20-22, 2015, at 7pm at GALA Hispanic Theatre, our dedicated team of professional actors, directors and dramaturges will bring to life fifteen vivid and compelling plays written by YPT students ages 8-17.

This year’s Festival, the culmination of YPT’s 20th Anniversary season, will be our biggest and best yet! The fifteen plays we’re featuring this year come from a pool of over 1,000 submissions – more than we’ve ever received before. NPF 2015 Book Cover FRONTAnd boy, are they spectacular! From the riotous tale of a bacon strip’s vengeance to hard-hitting family dramas, these plays reflect the diverse voices of our intelligent, inquisitive and imaginative students.

We received so many great submissions, in fact, that we couldn’t fit them all into one show! Seventeen other plays, which were named as Finalists for the Festival, will be published alongside the Featured Plays in our 2015 New Play Festival book, available for purchase on Amazon.

But the creativity of our young playwrights did not stop with their Finalist or Featured Plays – many of them have sent us other pieces of written or visual art that couldn’t make it into the book. Thus, we present to you:

The 2015 New Play Festival: Super Awesome Extras

Featured Plays

The Trip to the New World, by Aijah T. Royal

The Trip to the New World tells the tale of a teenage girl stuck inside High School World, who dreams of traveling to the Real World. Even before the play was selected for the Festival, Aijah had already sketched out her vision for what the two worlds look like! Check it out, and see The Trip to the New World live onstage on Monday, April 20!

Trip to the New World scene

Losxy Docxy, by Evan Alston

Based on an African folk tale, Evan Alston’s Losxy Docxy is the spooky story of a being that comes out at night to snatch people with dreadlocks and take them away to his lair. Evan himself, however, is far from spooky: in fact, he’s just about as cute as can be! He’s also an accomplished poet, and read this heart-warming piece at YPT’s Giving Voice Award Gala in early March:

Dear fellow student. You have just found this hidden capsule. So for your reward I’ll tell you a poem about the Young Playwrights Theater.

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetAfter this poem, I know you’ll be a fan.
After this poem I 
know you’ll understand.
After this poem you won’t be 
tired,
after this poem you’ll be inspired.

The Young Playwrights are the best.
They are better than 
all the rest.
The Young Playwrights are so cool,
So cool 
just like school.

They will take your hard work and creativity,
and help 
you be the best you can be.
YPT is so much fun.
They 
have enthusiasm for everyone.

So if you want to write a play you better come on in,
because with YPT you’re going to win!!!

Written by Evan Alston

See Losxy Docxy on Night Two of the Festival, Tuesday, April 21!

Finalists

The Hero Who Called Himself Faith, by Scott Lake

During his In-School Playwriting Program, Chelsea School student Scott Lake wrote an epic fantasy play called The Hero Who Called Himself Faith. We were astounded by the richness of the world he created, and are happy to share the script in the book! Just before we sent the book off to print, Scott sent us more background on the play, along with two AMAZING drawings his friend Jordan Barron made of the hero James and the evil Demon King. Take a look!

There once was a war between Man and Demon. Neither side could win, but the Demon King had a trick up his sleeve: his weapons were made out of a rare alloy forged out of misery.

The Demon King used many slaves working in his mine to look for this rare alloy. He captured many villages and made them work in the mine. The Demon King killed many people and made some of them work till death. The miners would feel very miserable and scared when they worked and it made the weapons even stronger.

But one man with pure heart stole some of this rare alloy and forged the Sword of Faith, the Helm of Wisdom and the Shield of Strength. These weapons made the Demon King retreat back to his domain.

But all good heroes die; before he died, he saw a vision from the Helm of Wisdom that when he died the Demon King would return and take over. But he saw a child that was purest of heart and would vanquish the Demon King. He told his oldest and strongest son to take the Shield of Strength to the eastern mountains with a huge army waiting for this child. Then he told the smartest and wisest son to take the Helm of Wisdom to the south and train this child. He told his last son that he should go west to look for the child, so he gave his son a piece of his sword and told him, “It will glow when you find this child.”

When he died, his body was hidden in the mountain with the sword guarded by a dragon. The only way to get the Sword of Faith is to solve this riddle, and the riddle is: “I shall raise my sword only to Evil and put it down for Good.”

James, holding the Sword of Faith and the Shield of Strength and wearing the Helm of Wisdom.
James, holding the Sword of Faith and the Shield of Strength and wearing the Helm of Wisdom.
The evil Demon King!
The evil Demon King!

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

Have you heard the exciting news?

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEAM SUPERGIRL

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

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

TEAM MAGNET DUDE

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

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

TEAM FLATWORM

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

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

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

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

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

Alison, Development and Producing Associate

 

April Pizza Adventures Part IV: RedRocks Pizzeria

We did it!  A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our pizza party fundraising marathon this April. We had a great time exploring local pizza joints, raising money for the New Play Festival, and sampling all kinds of pizza.

On Wednesday, April 18, RedRocks Pizzeria in Columbia Heights very generously agreed to donate 30% of their happy hour proceeds to YPT, so Wednesday evening I took a break from all the exciting preparations leading up to the New Play Festival (opening on Monday!) and headed over to RedRocks. The cozy pizza restaurant is located in a converted row house just a few blocks from the Columbia Heights metro, and it was a welcome shelter from the cold, wet Wednesday evening. I found families and young professionals alike enjoying RedRocks neopolitan-style thin crust pizzas and after-work specials.

Highlights:

  • $6.50 margarita pizzas during happy hour. And these pizzas weren’t small– you could easily eat your fill and still have leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • The cozy atmosphere, especially on a gray, rainy evening in the middle of the week.
  • While I did not sample the calzones this visit (also a happy hour special), I caught a glimpse, and they looked delicious – and huge!
  • Thin crust European-style pizza. Although I love all kinds of pizza, I must say this is my favorite.
  • How friendly and accommodating the staff was as people came and went from our YPT pizza party – they even extended their happy hour specials until 8pm.
  • And of course, how awesome RedRocks is for hosting our final YPT pizza party!

Overall, RedRocks is a perfect neighborhood restaurant if you’re in the Columbia Heights area and craving delicious, restaurant-style pizza in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. I’m sure I and the other members of the YPT staff will be back.

So my journey has come to an end.  While it may be awhile before I’m hungry for pizza again (maybe by the next New Play Festival), I’ve had a great time discovering local pizza joints and making new friends in the community. I’m so impressed by how generous our local businesses are, and I want to thank them all – Pete’s Apizza, Flippin’ Pizza, HomeMade Pizza Company and RedRocks Pizzeria – for supporting YPT, our New Play Festival, and our amazing students.

And of course, a big thank you to YOU, our amazing supporters, for participating in our events and following my adventures (and a special shout-out to my roommate and YPT enthusiast Ashley, who participated in three out of our four fundraisers and even brought a crowd of friends to RedRocks – with only minimal pressure from me!)

How many pizza places did you visit in April?  Share you photos, or your stories on our Facebook page – we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Next up: The New Play Festival!  Now that we’ve raised all the dough (haha), join us on Monday, April 23, and Tuesday, April 24, at 7:30pm, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, to celebrate the achievements of twelve incredible young playwrights. Monday features seven hilarious, family-friendly plays written by some of our younger students, while Tuesday features five plays insightfully exploring more mature issues written by some of our older students. Join us at 7pm on both nights for a special pre-show reception with food and drink.  And I promise … no pizza.

Thank you, as always, for your support. We can’t wait to see you next week.  In the meantime, I’m off to the gym!

Alison
Development and Producing Associate

Spotlight on Sam Burris: YPT Featured Playwright

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

Reflection on the New Play Festival Process
by Sam Burris

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

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

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

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

Sam Burris
YPT Young Playwright 

YPT’s Top 10 of 2011

As we wrapped up another exciting year and wondered how it was already 2012, I read a lot of year-end lists. Albums, documentaries, political blunders, celebrity breakups… December was filled with lists meant to sum up the best (and worst) of the year. Well, how did YPT fare this past year? You decide! Here are YPT’s top 10 moments of 2011:

10. In 2011, YPT was thrilled to expand our programming and performances into Montgomery County, Maryland. In the spring, we received funding from the DIVAs Fund of the Montgomery County Community Foundation to bring our Express Tour into underserved Montgomery County middle schools, reaching over 1,000 at-risk youth with free performances and interactive workshops. We also expanded our After-School Playwriting Program into several community organizations, and served over 150 students at Long Branch Recreation Center in Montgomery County with our Summer Playwriting Program.

9. In the fall of 2011, YPT was selected to participate in the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ highly competitive UPSTART capacity building program for 2012. This competitive grant, which YPT also received in in 2007, is awarded to organizations that have demonstrated strong organizational and fiscal practices and could most benefit from intensive financial and technical assistance to develop new strategic initiatives and support core administrative systems and leadership development.

8. In the summer of 2011, YPT Producing Artistic Director and CEO David Snider was awarded the Hands On Greater DC Cares Essence of Leadership Award, which recognizes business leaders who are simultaneously working toward economic prosperity and transformative social change.

7. YPT lauched the Student Advisory Council to create an opportunity for continued dialogue with some of our most involved alumni, who offer invaluable inspiration and input about our programming and performances.

6. In recognition of the work of staff, artists, alumni and board members to further YPT’s mission, YPT launched our Company this past winter.

5. In November of 2011, YPT went international! YPT students spent a day at the Canadian Embassy creating cross-cultural theater with the students of Es Artes of Suchitoto, El Salvador! One student said of the experience, “We are all humans, we love theater, and we perform. Being a student and watching a barrier disintegrate was amazing. One of the students from Suchitoto said something close to, ‘I wanted to come here and I thought I would need English, but because of what we all believe in, I don’t have to.’ I guess actions do speak louder than words.”

4. The award-winning Young Playwrights’ Workshop was the only student ensemble to perform at the Capital Fringe Festival. With their original play, Out of the Shadow, the Workshop students took a stand for their peers across the country, presenting multiple perspectives and sharing important stories on the topic of bullying.

3. This past fall was YPT’s longest Express Tour, visiting 56 venues and giving thousands of students and community members their first theater experience.

2. The New Play Festival was bigger than ever with 15 plays over 3 nights. Featured plays were written by students at Bancroft Elementary School, Bell Multicultural High School, Lafayette Elementary School, Maya Angelou Public Charter School, Plummer Elementary School, Swanson Middle School, Watkins Elementary School and Wilson High School.

And the best part of 2011 for YPT? Drumroll please…

1. 2011 saw more plays written by YPT students than ever before! Our work in the classroom led to the creation of 700 new student-written plays. We are so excited to continue sharing them with you all this season!

Liza

Communications and Graphic Design Associate