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

YPT’s New Play Festival Book Giveaway

Every year, YPT’s New Play Festival features 15 of the best plays written by our students across Greater Washington. We also publish an annual New Play Festival Book, which features all 15 plays from the Festival, as well as the 15 finalist plays. All 30 students are honored onstage and given free copies of the book.

This year, YPT took this a step further, sharing the book of student voices with the DC community in a city-wide Book Giveaway. A group of dedicated volunteers from George Washington University’s Generic Theatre Company joined YPT for the day-long event, and we asked Caroline Crook to share her experience from the day.

YPT volunteers in front of the Big Chair
YPT volunteers in front of the Big Chair

Hello all! I’m Caroline Crook, a sophomore at George Washington University and Assistant Artistic Director in our student-led Generic Theatre Company. I reached out to Generic at first because it seemed like a fun, social way to keep theater in my college life; I stayed on because, as my mom puts it, I “found my tribe.” I love that theater provides a space for both vulnerability and safety, a space where anyone can emotionally reach out and connect using the universal language of storytelling. Young Playwrights’ Theater is great because its members reach out to schools and DC neighborhoods with this exact message in mind: everyone has a powerful story to tell, no matter how young or from what background.

On Sunday, October 26th, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Young Playwrights’ Theater, five volunteers (including myself) gave away a collection of plays written by YPT students to people in neighborhoods across DC, including Eastern Market, Anacostia, Dupont Circle and Columbia Heights. We handed out stacks of our glossy purple books to passersby and offered a chance to talk a little more about the role that Young Playwrights’ Theater played in these students’ growth as writers. In the end, we gave away 225 books throughout these neighborhoods and along the way, we met a ton of people who wanted to hear more about YPT and its goal as an organization.

When I think back to that Sunday, three groups of people stand out in my mind as individual successes of the project: the kids in Anacostia, the bookworms in Dupont Circle and the Sunday picnic crowd at Meridian Hill Park.

Anacostia Library
Elementary school students look through their new books

The Anacostia Neighborhood Library was not a busy place that morning. In fact, the only people we saw outside its doors were a group of 8-to-10-year-old boys talking amongst themselves. We said hello and offered them a few plays to read. The boys were skeptical at first; they asked if the books were for coloring, then seemed mainly disappointed by our response. But by the time we left, they were sitting quietly, reading the published work of students their age, from their neighborhood. The YPT Book Giveaway made it possible for these kids to learn more about theater and playwriting, even in a non-classroom setting.

Dupont Circle, by contrast, was crowded with people. As a result, the people I remember personally are the individuals who deliberately stopped to have a full conversation about YPT and ask questions about the book they received. One man, Johnny, listened as I explained YPT’s goal as an organization, then told me, “I’m a playwright myself and I really respect what you’re doing for this neighborhood. I’m going to go put this [he gestured to his new book] on my bike so I don’t forget it.” He shook my hand and walked away, leaving me with a renewed sense of appreciation for the Dupont community and its support of the arts. Later on, a woman stopped to talk to us about the YPT classrooms and revealed that she was an English teacher in a nearby elementary school. As she flipped through her playbook, we told her about YPT’s 20 Classroom Challenge, a plan to integrate YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program into at least 20 more DC classrooms this year. She nodded and smiled, looking genuinely excited at the thought of students across DC learning how to write plays and create their own works of art.

We finally ended where we began: in Meridian Hill Park. When I think back to that day, the image of that park is what stands out the most in my mind; I remember how by the time we finished distributing, the bright purple of the New Play Festival Book’s cover was all over the park. One man let his (adorable) son, who looked about 5 years old, grab one of the books I held out to him and said, “Maybe we can read some of these before bedtime, right kiddo?” His son nodded with his eyes on the book and I had to restrain myself from jumping up and down, I was so excited. People who had entered the park with their own books and e-readers had set them aside to read ours. Even the more active picnickers and frisbee-throwers had begun reading out loud to each other, casting themselves as characters from these student-written plays.

What I found so successful about the book giveaway was the way it allowed multiple DC neighborhoods to support YPT just by reading some entertaining plays. It was inspiring to watch a supportive DC arts community reveal itself so organically, just by handing out a book. I’m so proud of my fellow Generic Theatre Company members, Joe and Anthony, who threw themselves into the project and were only too happy to start a conversation about YPT with total strangers. I’m also proud to count myself and my fellow volunteers as a member of this DC arts community as well.

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!

The Rogue Race

Teaching is hard every day. Even when my lesson plan is clear and my students are completely absorbed and engaged, teaching is really hard.

I feel the same way about running. It doesn’t matter if it’s a humid July afternoon in DC or a cool spring morning, whether I’m jogging on the treadmill or stumbling up a mountain. Rain or shine, hot or cold, running is always hard for me.

As a Resident Teaching Artist for YPT, my job is to teach, so I do it all the time. Running, though, is not my job, so I do it basically never. I know that I should, and I’m generally pretty happy after I do, but even as I think about running while writing this blog post I’m getting winded.

It was announced at a staff meeting earlier this fall that YPT would again be participating in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause, an 8K race that raised $12,000 for YPT in 2012. I was thrilled to have some much needed motivation to get me back in the running game.  About 41 seconds later though, I realized I would be in upstate New York for a wedding that weekend and wouldn’t be able to cross the finish line as my coworkers and friends cheered.

I decided a week or so later that I would run the 8K anyway. At home in New York, with the company of my boyfriend, I would create an 8K course and run it while my coworkers were doing the same in Virginia. I immediately told Brigitte, our Executive Director, about my plan to run a “rogue race”. I’d have to start running.  I told my boss I would.

Kate teaching It was around this time that I began teaching our In-School Playwriting Program for the first time. When I started at YPT in June, I had a wide range of teaching experiences under my belt.  I had lectured college classes on Performativity and the American Dream, I had taught three-year-olds to create ocean waves with their bodies, I had served as a literacy tutor for elementary school students, I had taught fiction classes to gifted teenagers and pretty much everything in between. But teaching playwriting in our classrooms across the Greater Washington region has proven to be the biggest challenge I have faced as an educator.

As a YPT teaching artist, my job is to provide students, in eleven weekly workshops, the inspiration, techniques and tools necessary to write a play. With close to thirty students in most of my classes, there is very little time for individualized attention or hand holding. My lesson plans must be clear and concise as we move quickly from one concept to the next, forcing my students to think creatively and analytically simultaneously. The moment they understand a concept, we’re on to the next one. Once they understand the role of a protagonist, they have to create their own. When they’ve discovered their protagonist’s objective, they’re creating obstacles to get in his or her way. We are constantly moving the carrot, leading them on a creative and intellectual journey that will hopefully conclude with the creation of an original one-act play.

Writing a play is no small feat for anyone. I’ve been stuck on page 47 of the play I’m writing right now for almost six months. Many of my students, however, have never seen a play, so as hard as it is for me to write a play, for them it’s harder.

The days I was in the classroom this fall proved to be the most difficult days to muster the willpower to throw on my sneakers and head outside. My feet were tired from standing all day and I almost always had a headache.

I started off running two miles at a time.  I was pretty disappointed with how difficult those first two miles were. Slowly, though, I was able to run two miles without wanting to throw up (a small victory, I thought). I’d run two and a half miles, and then three, slowly but surely working my way up to five. It was always hard. I would push myself each day for 20, 30, 40, 50 minutes just to come home, shower and realize I’d have to do it all over again the next day. I kept thinking it would get easier, but it didn’t, I’d just have to run farther.

Meanwhile, in the classroom, each workshop felt like a workout. Each lesson was a small goal either missed or achieved. One of my amazing partner teachers, the incomparable Ross Cohen, told me that as a teacher he feels like Sisyphus. Each day he pushes the boulder up a mountain for 90 minutes, only to start from the beginning and do it again with the next period.

While running never really got any easier, I did get better at it. By the time October 12th came along, I ran the 8K in 49 minutes. My mother set an alarm on her phone to come outside and cheer for us as we finished. We got there too quickly, though, and we finished the race without much pomp and circumstance. The two of us were sweaty and tired, but proud that we had finished. kate and nayt

In the classroom I feel that way each day. There’s no one there when the bell rings to give me a high five and say, “Way to go! That lesson on conflict was stellar!” When the bell rings, my students are usually starving, waiting for lunch and running out of the classroom as quickly as their legs can take them down to the cafeteria for a slice of pizza.

Hopefully, though, I pushed them just a little further than the week before. Hopefully, their creative muscles have been exercised and their endurance for this kind of thinking has increased. As their teacher, I’ve been strengthening these same muscles – pushing myself a little harder to make each class better than the one before.

_______________

Kathryn Coughlin is a playwright, dramaturg and teaching artist serving as an Associate Producer for CulturalDC’s Source Festival. Kathryn’s plays include More Than Before, They Say There’s a War Going On, Sounds of Alarm and All We Have. Her work has been developed, produced and read by The Inkwell Theatre,Rorschach Theatre St. Bonaventure University, Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage,The Disreputables and Meat and Bone Theatre Company. As a dramaturg, Kathryn has worked with Source Festival, The DC Queer Theatre Festival, Taffety Punk Theatre Company and Arena Stage. Kathryn has worked as a teaching artist for Creative Kids, The Literacy Lab and John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

14 Things We’re Excited About in 2014

Happy New Year!

YPT recently counted down 14 things (of many) that we make us jazzed about 2014, and we’re excited to share them with you.

1. More students, more schools. Last year, YPT reached 1,800 students, more than ever before in our history. And 2014 is on track to be our biggest year yet, serving 2,000 in new schools and organizations throughout the region. And we won’t stop until EVERY kid knows the power of his own voice.

2. Bragging rights as a featured Catalogue for Philanthropy charity. YPT is proud to be featured in the 2013-2014 Catalogue for Philanthropy. The Catalogue represents some of the best community-based charities in DC, Maryland and Virginia and we are thrilled to be included in 2014. Visit our CFP page for more information!

3. Continuing local partnerships. In the fall, YPT was excited to launch a new partnership with our neighbor Sitar Arts Center to integrate a playwriting program into their arts programming. We had a great time working with Sitar students this year, and thanks to generous support from the England Family Foundation we are excited to continue our program in the spring!

Jhoselin

4. New ideas. Every year, YPT is blown away by our students’ creativity. 2013 brought us such memorable characters as Tim the Sloth and Dr. Pig, robot siblings and important lessons in “chill-ness”, friendship, loyalty and saving the world. We can’t wait to see what our students have in store for us in 2014.

5. Bringing the 524 Project into the classroom. After a semester spent planning and dreaming together, YPT and iO could not be more excited to launch the 524 Project in the classroom in 2014 and connect our students in Detroit and DC. Follow the action on our tumblr!

6. Launching our Teaching Artist Apprenticeship Program. This spring, YPT is partnering with University of Maryland, College Park and Baltimore County to create an exciting new apprenticeship program. College students will apprentice with seasoned YPT teaching artists gaining skills and experience to help them secure paid teaching artist work after graduation and training the next generation of teaching artists in YPT’s model. We’re excited to grow the YPT family!

7. Our partnership with Maya Angelou Academy. In 2013, YPT expanded our programming to serve incarcerated young men at Maya Angelou Academy through a new partnership with the See Forever Foundation and New Beginnings Youth Development Center. This experience was one of our most rewarding partnerships last year, and we are thrilled and honored to return to Maya Angelou this spring to help more students share their stories through playwriting.

8. Our Student Advisory Council. Our students rock. Last year, they launched an independent fundraising project (including their own video) to raise money to bring YPT to Amidon Bowen Elementary School, a school that has spent years on our waiting list. This year, our students are developing creative ways to raise awareness of YPT and exploring ways they can break down youth stereotypes in their communities. We are blown away every meeting by their insight, creativity and enthusiasm and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish in 2014.

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9. The Young Playwrights’ Workshop. Speaking of amazing students, we cannot wait to see what our Workshop students dream up this year. Our students’ original play, Behind the Mask, took the Source Festival by storm last summer and our students are hard at work right now coming up with an idea for their new play, which will be back at Source in June 2014!

10. Our biggest staff yet. YPT welcomed several new staff members this year to support our incredible growth. In 2014, we’re excited to welcome Jeff Gilliland, our new Communications Associate to the YPT team, and to congratulate Laura Wood, our intern-turned-fellow who will become our full-time Community Engagement Assistant in January. With seven full-time staff, three resident teaching artists and two interns, the YPT office will be busier than ever in 2014!

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11. Eat for Good: The 2014 Giving Voice Award Gala. Our Giving Voice Award Gala is back and this year we’re eating for good! On March 14th, join us as we honor local artist, activist and entrepreneur Andy Shallal (founder of Busboys and Poets) and sample our way through DC with food and drinks from local restaurants, enter to win unique raffle prizes and dance the night away to live music. Buy your tickets now!

12. YPTexas! YPT is hitting the road again! In January, YPT staff will be traveling to Hidalgo County, Texas, working with YPT’s own former Resident Teaching Artist Catherine DiSanza to launch a pilot of our program for students in Garcia Elementary School, a school located just miles from the Mexican border.

10. New Writers Now!: Truth and DareJoin YPT in February for an evening of fearless theater as high school playwrights challenge stereotypes and shatter boundaries in four high-stakes new student plays. YPT is bringing our February New Writers Now! to Theater J for the first time, and we can’t wait!

14. The 2014 New Play Festival: bigger than ever! Hands down, our favorite time of year is reading and selecting the plays to be featured in our spring New Play Festival. This year’s Festival promises three nights of hilarious, creative and heartfelt plays written by elementary, middle and high school students. We hope you’ll join us in April!

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5-Line Playwriting Tips from the Experts

It’s the last week of YPT’s 5-Line Playwriting Challenge!  Have you submitted your play yet?

We’ve already received some amazing plays from YPT’s super creative community. Check out these teasers below, including this touching play sent to us from our Young Playwrights’ Workshop alumna, Reyna Rios:reyna

I LOVE YOU

Jasmine: Hi, (shakes Martin’s his hand) my name is Jasmine Belen Martinez. People say that I am different, but I like to see that as a positive thing. I am always doing crazy things to show people how much I love and care about them.

Martin: But you don’t know me, dear Jasmine. I am just Martin Jackson, a homeless man that is invisible to everyone around me.  How do you expect me to believe that you love    someone like me?

Jasmine: Well let me show you that I do. Please say “yes?” (to be continued on December 21st!)

Or your play can be a comedy, like this one submitted by our newest board member, Catherine Crum, written with some of her friends (5-line plays can be a group effort!)

“URINE TROUBLE”: A PLAY IN ONE ACT

(two girls sit at desks.  a teacher hovers in the background.)

Girl A: (whispers) I have to pee so bad!

Girl B: Girl, you know you can’t leave during the SAT!

Teacher (slapping a ruler in his hand):  If you two continue discussing answers, you will be asked to leave, you will never go to college and you will end up playing the electric cello for pennies …

(Will she finish her SAT? Visit our YouTube channel on December 21st to find out!)

Did these great plays give you some ideas of your own? There’s still time!

Donate $25 or more before Friday and submit an original 5-line play, and you’ll get to see your play performed on YouTube.  We’re calling in the most talented artists we know – our students – to turn the tables on our supporters and bring YOUR words to life.  Plays can be funny, serious, dramatic, touching, satirical or just plain weird!  There are no wrong answers, and no idea is too crazy!  For complete challenge rules, click here.

Stuck on that first line? We know it can be hard to get started, so we went to our award-winning student ensemble for help! The Young Playwrights’ Workshop’s original plays have been featured in the Capital Fringe Festival and Intersections Festival, and will be seen in the 2013 Source Festival, so they know a thing or two about playwriting, and they agreed to share their own words of wisdom:

“Use current events! Take a piece of reality and make it fun!” – Edwin

“Never say you can’t do it. All plays start with weird ideas.” – Patriciopatricio

“Take your time. Think of a long term character, if one is used.” – Maxwell

“No matter how hard it is to think of what to write, keep it going. Don’t stop.” – Chris

Think outside the box. Think of something only your true self can write.” – Jardel

“Live your mind and express it all.” – Chrissilly

“Agarra tu papel y pon toda tu pasión y también has lo como que enserio fuera real, lo que tu estas actuando.” – Claudia

“Get silly” 🙂 – Morena

Click here now to make your donation of $25 or more to support YPT’s fall fundraising campaign, and send your 5-line play by 5pm on Friday, December 14th to abeyrle@yptdc.org.

Thank you, as always, for your support. Our students can’t wait to perform your plays!

Supergirl’s Training Journal

Calling all YPT superheroes!

Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause is officially one month away!  We can’t wait to run with all our friends and supporters on October 14th!

As we enter the final stretch, we’ve recruited the ultimate trainer – our very own Supergirl, YPT’s 8k team leader and star of our recent reality show training video! Supergirl was created by student playwright Dakota Wenberg in her play A Jewel of Date, which was produced in our 2011 New Play Festival and Express Tour. We asked Dakota to bring Supergirl back to help motivate our walkers and runners by sharing her training regimen, and guess what … while Supergirl may be leading all our hardcore 8k competitors, she started out just like everyone else.

 Check out Supergirl’s hilarious and inspirational journey from “Supersoregirl” to race-ready, as imagined by Dakota. Then don’t forget to register for the race on October 14 and support YPT! As Supergirl reminds us, real superheroes aren’t about winning; they are about helping others in superhuman ways!”


Hey everybody!

It’s Supergirl here, ready to get you excited about the upcoming Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause! I will be helping my friends at YPT raise money for their programs. You can follow my progress as I get ready to run hard this fall.

Day 1 – I woke up this morning to the ring of my home phone. I picked it up and who should it be but my friend Laurie down at YPT. She came to me with an urgent plea for a superhero to lead the charge in Acumen Solutions’ Race for a Cause. I immediately agreed. Unfortunately only after I put down the phone did I realize exactly what I had signed up for. I had to run; dad taught me to fly not run. This was going to be much more difficult than I had expected. So who was I supposed to turn to for help? Who was insane enough to run every day up and down brutal hills while torturing their every muscle in their bodies? Who would willfully submit themselves to miles of endless scenery and pain on foot? Then it hit me, like a baseball. I reached for my phone and started dialing furiously. There was only one solution to my problem, the Cross Country team.

Day 2 – 5:30 AM. Sunrises are overrated. Sweat and pain takes all the beauty out of it. The things they don’t tell you at the beginning of practice could fill an entire three part series. For instance wheezing and shortness of breath are not considered signs of a pending heart attack. I had no idea the team was made up of Flash wannabes, I just wanted to finish the race, they wanted to sprint for 5 kilometers or so I gathered from their training regime. You would think that stopping running would stop the pain, but no, it only starts a new cycle of discomfort. I see a hot bath in my future.

Day 3 – 5:30 AM. I can’t do it, I won’t go, they can’t make me. I’m going to hide. Yeah like I’m going back there again. Supergirl? More like Supertiredgirl, Supersoregirl, and Superstupidforsigningupforthisgirl. I made the mistake of telling dad about my promise to YPT and he’s determined to make me go. Right now I’m hiding under the sink in desperate hope that the metal will throw my father’s x-ray vision off. Shh. I hear him coming…. ACK! Caught, think fast. Oh yeah . . . Why am I under the sink?  . . . I was just checking up on the pipes dad! Gotta run.

Day 15 – 5:30 am. I fear that I may have scared my readers off with my apocalyptic tales of running, but now that it’s been about two weeks I’m starting to get the hang of it. My muscles don’t hurt anymore and I can run faster than I ever have before. I’ve elevated my expectations, and I no longer want to simply finish the race, but I want to kick some hiney. I am no longer staggering into the locker room ten minutes after everybody has showered and gone home. The coaches have stopped giving me those sad sympathetic eyes. I remember when dad took me on my first around the world flying trip, it took two hours and twenty minutes, and we almost hit Everest (navigation error a.k.a. dad refused to ask for direction when we got blown off course at the Tien Shan Mountains.) I never thought running could give you the same high as flying. I love this!!!

Day 29 – 8:30 PM. I’ve got ten minutes to lights out. Tomorrow is race day and I need my sleep. Today I pounded carbs all the way up until the big team pasta dinner. Unfortunately I had forgotten what a super human appetite I have and before I knew what was going on I had downed half a pan of baked ziti and two loaves of garlic bread. Lucky for me I blended in with my teammates just fine — have you seen how much teenagers eat?  I am in perfect shape, I am ready. I will win.

Day 30– 5:43 AM. Coach told me I could sleep in until 6:30 before the race but I can’t seem to shake off something Dad said to me last night as I was getting ready to sleep.  He reminded me that real superheroes aren’t about winning; they are about helping others in superhuman ways – like the super organizations that will benefit from Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause.  I let my ambition get the best of me.  Today is not about being number one – today is about helping others be the best they can be.  Today we sweat for others.  Tomorrow they lead us to new superhero heights.

Don’t forget to register for the race by October 11th!  We can’t wait to see you on the 14th!