Playwriting Competitions

IMG_7268YPT classrooms are overflowing with talent, and many students are inspired to continue writing after our residency in the classroom ends. We love that playwriting has become an important platform for our students, and we want to pass along several playwriting competitions that focus on young artists and provide an opportunity for recognition, a chance to win money, school funding and much, much more!

Whether you’ve been through YPT programming and need a refresher or just want playwriting inspiration and workshops to learn on your own, pick up a copy of YPT’s book, Write to Dream, on Amazon today. Write to Dream includes standards-based playwriting workshops from YPT’s curriculum that can help you craft your own play and also features exemplary plays from students throughout Greater Washington! 

 YPT students and alumni have already proven that they are incredible playwrights. We hope you enjoy the chance to flex your playwriting muscles again, and good luck!

The International Student Playscript Competition

Application Due: October 11, 2013

Eligibility: Playwright must be ages 16 to 25

National Young Arts Foundation

Application Due: October 14, 2013

Eligibility: Students must be ages 15-18 years old, or in grades 10-12

Playwriting portfolio instructions here

Young Playwrights Inc. National Playwriting Competition

Application Due: Postmarked by January 2, 2014

Eligibility: 18 years old or younger on January 2, 2014

Princeton University Ten-Minute Play Contest

Application Due: March 2014 (specific date to be posted in January 2014)

Eligibility: Students in eleventh grade during the 2012-2013 academic year

Young Playwrights Competition & Festival

Application Due: March 2014

Eligibility: 19 years old or younger on date of submission

The Kennedy Center: VSA Playwright Discovery Competition

Application Due: Summer 2014 (call for scripts opens November 2013)

Eligibility: Students in grades 6-12, plays dealing with disabilities

We hope that you have a great time taking another foray into the world of playwriting!  If you are an alumnus entering into a competition, please contact us to let us know so that we can cheer you on! We can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

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!

The Best Experience I Ever Had in School

Check out this beautiful letter to YPT from Saviya Brown. Saviya, a junior at Bell Multicultural High School, wrote the play Taken 4 Granted, which will premiere in the New Play Festival, on April 13, at 7:30pm, at GALA Hispanic Theatre (3333 14th Street NW).

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Dear YPT Reading Committee and YPT staff:

I would love to thank the YPT Reading Committee and staff for their support and encouragement as I wrote my play. I would especially like to give my thanks to Patrick Torres for giving me the advice that I can do it. Without him I think I would not have done or finished the play. Working with YPT was the best experience I ever had in school. I say that because they gave me a chance to actually open up and experience better ways of writing. YPT is better than English classes, from my point of view, because you have people to sit side by side with you and help you without being rushed. They also give you extended time if you need to work on something. This is something that I will really remember as the best thing from all my years of high school.

I would also like to share that I am now writing a book. I wrote one last summer but it disappeared somehow, so I am currently writing one called Twisted. I have also invited people to help me write it [by contributing ideas] from their life experience, so hopefully it will come out well. The people who are featured are Tomas Rodriguez and Harold Dawson, and I would love to thank them also.

I would really love to thank YPT again. Thanks for being supportive and honest about our plays in all of your ways.

Sincerely,

Saviya Brown
YPT Young Playwright

Elementary School Musical

Every Sunday night when I was growing up, my dad would pick up ice cream sundaes from our local diner and we would eat them together while watching The Simpsons. It was a great tradition, but as I got older I lost interest in the show and moved on to more sophisticated programming like Nick News with Linda Ellerbee. When I heard that this week’s Simpsons episode would feature brilliant folk parody duo Flight of the Conchords, however, I had to tune in.  Little did I know how much the episode would appeal to me: it focuses on artists and arts education, specifically Lisa’s week-long trip to an arts camp.

Lisa is sent to the camp while her brother, Bart, is in Stockholm accepting the Nobel Peace Prize with Krusty the Klown (of course), and she immediately falls in love. In her week at camp, she performs mime and Mame, makes wallets with Stephen Sondheim, and learns that artists “make society see its faults clearer”, “help stamp out oppression and wars”, and “end poverty with music and dance”. “I’ve finally found the place I belong,” Lisa sighs. Soon her week is over, however, and she has to return to school where the bullies ask her about “farts camp” and her teachers tell her she’ll never reach her dreams.

While in my experience, being an artist isn’t quite as unpopular as it is in Springfield, I certainly identify with being the awkward kid in school and then finding a home in the arts; one of the few things I liked about elementary school was my after-school drama program.  And now, as an arts educator with Young Playwrights’ Theater, I get to see this in my classes all the time: kids who are uncomfortable and unsure of themselves finding their footing through drama, writing, music and dance.

While The Simpsons hit the nail on the head with the importance of arts education, what I found most interesting and relatable about the episode was the uncomfortable truths it revealed about working as an artist. When Lisa runs away from home to find her camp counselors in Sprooklyn, Springfield’s most artistic borough, she discovers that life as an artist is not all she dreamed it would be. By day they work at a sandwich shop, stealing tomatoes to get by, while by night they play guitar in a run-down, nearly empty night club. “Are you saying that arts camp was a lie?”  Lisa asks in horror. While her counselor responds sheepishly with, “Well…not the swimming”, I have to disagree.

All of us who work in the arts have that shattering moment when we realize that what we love most in the world offers little comfort or stability, which is why the passion that Lisa discovers at camp is essential to a career in the arts. Even those of us who are fortunate enough to make our living in the arts have struggled and paid our dues with less fulfilling day jobs, but the end result is getting to do work that we love and believe in, and getting to work with others who are equally passionate.

In the end of the episode, Lisa decides to return to Sprooklyn when she is older and less naïve, and even though The Simpsons haven’t aged in 22 years, I hope she does. I know she could find an easier life in a more stable career, but nothing is worth trading the one place you know you belong.

Laurie
Program Assistant

From Tetris to Twitter: David on New Communication in Cyberspace

If you’re like me, quickly approaching 40 and remembering the days in college when you’d play Tetris on the little black and white screen of your Macintosh computer and “email” involved typing a whole lot of backslashes, you may be daunted by the recent onslaught of social media tools swirling through cyberspace.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Facebook and how it’s allowed us to reconnect with YPT alumni from years past.  And I’m starting to understand Twitter – though really, why do we need to know that much about that many people? And managing them all at once can get overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve started to use HootSuite at YPT to streamline these tools. But even though I’ve received a full tutorial from someone under 30, I’m having trouble using it. Maybe I don’t have the time to focus on it? Or maybe I’m just resisting one more app on my overloaded Blackberry? But maybe I’m also longing for the days when the best ways to share your latest news included 1) picking up the phone and saying it, 2) writing a note and passing it or 3) pulling somebody aside and sharing it – face to face.  And I’m wondering, as we quickly declare our thoughts to the world on everything under the sun, from coffee to candidates, how much time do we now spend pondering those thoughts, forming those opinions or considering those words?

At YPT we try to give students the time and space to think, consider, and then speak, through their characters. Later this year we’ll be launching YPText, a new initiative focused on communicating and collaborating with students and the community via text messaging.  As we explore this new type of writing, I hope we can help students find new ways to still take the time and space to think, so that they can experience those crucial moments of self-discovery, when we form our own opinions of things, our view of the world, and our view of ourselves. 

As we’re running with HootSuite, Twitter, and Facebook to give you a window into the work, please let us know what you think – and how you think we’re doing. See you in cyberspace and, hopefully, in real space, soon.

David
Producing Artistic Director and CEO

YPT Welcomes Raina Fox as Our New Community Engagement Associate!

Sometimes artists get a bad name: they are disorganized and unreliable. They let their ideas get ahead of their ability to perform. They live in a world of their own.

I am so thrilled to be part of a team of artists who share none of those traits.

As I end my very first week as Community Engagement Associate at the Young Playwrights’ Theater, I am overcome by the energy, intelligence, organization, creativity, and passion of the folks who make it possible for our young playwrights to contribute to and be a part of our creative world.

On Tuesday evening, YPT held its first ever kick-off event, at which actors performed teaser scenes from three student plays. Students, families, board members, supporters, and staff gathered to celebrate and watch as these plays begin to form. We watched as a boy from the moon struggled to understand earth, a young man and his turtle friend confronted their own personal hell (high school), and a couple’s relationship started to deteriorate because of a text message.  The plays were funny, insightful, clever, and entertaining. However, the best part was watching the young playwrights as they saw their characters come to life through the words they had written. Though they seemed a bit embarrassed, they absolutely radiated pride and excitement. I was so happy to approach the essence of YPT by experiencing these plays alongside their young writers and so many members of the wonderful YPT community.

I also experienced the first stage of a Fannie Mae-commissioned play on homelessness in the form of workshops at N Street Village and Martha’s Table. The women of N Street and children of Martha’s table were amazingly eloquent, perceptive, and enthusiastic when speaking about the issue of homelessness. They were not only willing to share their perspectives, but thrilled to be part of the play to come. I too am excited to see where these community perspectives lead the creative process and to have my perspective of homelessness tested along the way.

This week was the perfect introduction to my time at YPT—I was able to see the brainstorming and writing processes, experience the first stage in producing a play, and begin to connect with YPT and the broader community. As I start to develop ways to further engage our community, I know this is rooted in a strong, supportive, passionate group of folks, who, yes, happen to be artists.

Raina
Community Engagement Associate

YPT Explores Homelessness in DC

This year Young Playwrights’ Theater is working in partnership with Fannie Mae and their Help the Homeless program to create an original play about the issue of homelessness in the Washington metro area. In the coming weeks, we will be implementing workshops at transitional housing facilities and several public schools to discover the many perspectives, feelings and beliefs surrounding this issue that will find their way into our play. Last night, we conducted our very first workshop at Community of Hope, and we were absolutely blown away by the residents there. We had a group of seven women and their children. The first workshop requires participants to play a role in a made-up drama concerning citizens at a town hall meeting who are deciding whether or not to allow a transitional housing facility to move into their neighborhood. Each person is given a character to play in the fictional community, many of whom disagree with the initiative. Since this was our first workshop, we were unsure if our partners would be willing to voice opposition to a transitional housing facility, but the participants played their roles with vigor and honesty. We had quite a debate for our guided drama, and in the end, the community voted to have the “Good Neighbor Transitional Housing Facility” built in their neighborhood. After the play concluded, we reflected on it and asked the participants to speak openly about the varying opinions of the characters they just enacted. They spoke candidly about the way homeless people are stereotyped and the injustice of writing off the problem as drug abuse, mental illness or apathy. Needless to say we were honored to work with these remarkable women and look forward to the rest of our workshops related to this project.

Please start making plans right now to come see this play at our Express Tour Showcase November 3 through November 6. If the experience of last night is any indication of the depth and sincerity we will meet over the next month of conducting these workshops, then you do not want to miss this showcase!

Patrick
Associate Artistic Director