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.

Listen Up

Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s trial and subsequent acquittal have sparked a heated and important national conversation. Many intelligent thinkers are trying to make sense of this tragedy, searching for ways that we as a nation can heal and move forward. As I reflect on the work that we at YPT do with young people, specifically teenagers, I feel compelled to speak from my point of view as both an artist and an educator.

As adults, we have got to listen to teenagers. Now more than ever. We have got to let African American teenagers and teenagers of color and all teenagers know that they deserve safety, health and happiness, and that their voices matter.

Too many teenagers in our society are plagued by violence in their schools, in their homes and in their neighborhoods. They are marginalized because of racism, sexism, poverty, homophobia, transphobia and combinations thereof. They are judged unfairly, labeled “dangerous,” “threatening” and “difficult.”

I am deeply troubled by all the negativity surrounding the “millennial” generation. Millennials are supposedly “lazy” and “entitled.” They’re attached to their phones. They’re the “me generation.” At the same time, studies report that the time to invest in young people is in early childhood, an excellent strategy but one that I worry may inadvertently suggest a hidden corollary: that by the time children have become teenagers, they cannot learn, cannot grow, cannot make important contributions to their communities.

In my five years with YPT, I have met amazing teenagers. YPT’s teenage playwrights have written insightful plays that comment on real issues facing their communities such as gang violence, teen pregnancy, bias crime, bullying, gentrification and immigration. And they’ve also penned delightful comedies that lift the spirits of all who watch or read them. I’ve met teenagers who surprised me by sitting silent in the back of the class for a whole semester, only to hand in brilliant plays. I’ve seen teenagers work together and forge connections with other students who were different from themselves.

When I walk into a high school classroom, I know that I will have to work hard to earn the respect and trust of the teenage students. Why should this reflect poorly on them? Teenagers are savvy. Just like adults, they ask us to prove ourselves. That doesn’t make them “bad” or “difficult” – it is their right as human beings.

Now more than ever we need to empower young people. We need to listen to their stories and honor their perspectives. We need to encourage and allow them to speak their truths to help us as adults “widen our circles of compassion,” as President Obama put it. Our circles of compassion must grow to encompass all teenagers. To do that, we’re going to have to listen up.

Nicole Jost
Artistic Director

Stepping into Someone Else’s Shoes

YPT recently visited the Military Child Education Coalition’s National Training Seminar. MCEC advocates for inclusive, quality education for military-connected children, who are frequently affected by mobility, family separation, and transition. Military children generally move six to nine times during their K-12 school years. Many make multiple moves during high school years alone, some even during their senior year. One MCEC program, Student 2 Student, trains civilian and military-connected high school students to establish peer-based support systems to support military youth who move to and from the school. These students help military-connected youth develop positive peer relationships, learn about their new schools and community and quickly gain peer credibility.

 We worked with members of the Student 2 Student program for an afternoon, playing theater games, developing characters and writing. In one exercise, each student created a character based on another student’s shoe, imagining their hopes, fears and favorite food all from one shoe! We were so impressed with the creative monologues they wrote for their characters and how quickly they were able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes! At the end of the day, students and professional actors presented a scene and two monologues to a large audience, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Image

Monologues:

Jhon: So I have been down in Florida for the last couple weeks. I have been through many ups and downs, but in the end it was all worth it. I got into a city league. Played very well for the first few games but on one I lost. I took it all on myself. But I told myself that I can’t let failure take over me. We are going to playoffs next week. Wish me luck.

Liza: I was on my way to the new H&M to buy the leather jacket but guess what happened… the H&M was in that new glass mall, and H&M is on the top floor. I am so afraid of heights… I could never go in a glass mall. You should go buy it for me… I’ll give you the money for it!!!

Paul: I so badly want to leave the boringness and normality that is my life. I want to quit my job at the bank and travel to Europe and pursue my love of jazz. But I am afraid of taking risks. Maybe I should get some new shoes and be brave, yes, I will. I will follow my dreams.

Elizabeth: To get something you want more than anything which is joy and happiness you have to follow your dreams. Do whatever you have to do for you to wake up with a smile in the morning. Don’t let fear of failing get in thte way because whatever you devote your time to and put effort in you will be successful.

Diana: I just got back from my “vacation” and I am tired but am going to go into the forest near my house to go exploring. I wish I didn’t have to go on so many “vacations” but hey I love it, but it gets in the way of me getting close to my family. But I know that some of the things I do in my “vacations” can put them all in danger. By the way, there is this one Chinese place I went to, I know it’s not healthy for me, but you know I love it! Back on track though. I know that if I do stop my “vacations” they are going to be in the past, but the past always holds danger. I got to go.

Mark: I have been in the banking business for years and I think it is time to move up the leadership ladder. I can no longer show weakness on my climb since CEO’s are fearless. If you could aid me in my ascent it would be greatly appreciated so I will have someone to help me overcome my biggest fear of failing. For now I bid adieu to you my friend and hope for a promising reply.

Jessica: More than anything, I want to go to Africa and look at all of the animals there, but there is one problem. I am extremely scared of heights and I am terrified to fly up in a plan that goes so high. I am going to attempt to overcome my fear of heights by picking up a new hobby of free climbing. If I can climb without a harness, I think I can ride in an airplane. I really hope free climbing will help me overcome my fear of heights so I can fulfill my dream of going to Africa and discovering new animals.

Mary Ann: I… I can’t describe the mix of emotions I feel. I am so conflicted. I love my family so dear, but my whole self aches for adventure. This small and rural town cannot be all that I amount to. I must at least TRY to see the world. But I am scared. I am scared to leave the nest, for I am still young. My mother used to say the world was dangerous, but maybe I want the danger.  I will miss you dearly, but I’ve decided to collect my belongings and leave for wonderland. I’m leaving tomorrow and I hope we meet again.

Phillip: I was just at the café and I thought I should write to you. I have been volunteering at the local orphanage but I am deathly afraid that one of the kids will pop a bottle cap into my eye! I have a great passion to help these kids and I want to see them happy, but I can’t risk being near another bottle cap. Should I just wear an eye patch?

YPT would like to thank Military Child Education Coalition and the Military Benefit Association for inviting us to take part in this meaningful day.

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!

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!

Announcing YPT’s 5-Line Playwriting Challenge

This winter, YPT is turning the tables and giving our supporters the chance to be playwrights!

YPT couldn’t ask for better supporters. Over the years, you’ve packed houses at performances, participated in our online contests, joined the conversation on Facebook, gotten 15 to give 15, and run an 8k for us, all helping us grow to serve almost 2,000 students throughout the DC region each year. But demand for YPT’s programs grows, we do not currently have the capacity to reach all the students on our waiting list. That’s where you come in.

Our students really want you to say yes to them … so they’re going to say yes to you.

We’ve seen how YPT has impacted our alums as they’ve gone on to study everything from theater to business to neuroscience, and we think everyone should get the opportunity to be a playwright. So here’s your chance!

Now through December 14th, donate $25 or more to YPT and send us an original 5-line play, and our students will perform YOUR play.

Here’s how it works:

1) Donate $25 or more to YPT here or mail your check, made out to Young Playwrights’ Theater, to 2437 15th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20009.

2) Write a 5-line play and email it to abeyrle@yptdc.org by 5pm on December 14, 2012.

3) YPT elementary school students will rehearse and perform your play in their classroom and YPT staff will film it.

4) On December 21, YPT will post all the plays on our YouTube channel.

5) Share your play with your family and friends and show your support for arts education and our students!

Your donation will help YPT say YES to new classrooms and shrink our waiting list, helping more students discover the power of their voices and stories through playwriting. And to thank you, YPT students will share YOUR story with the world.

Play Guidelines:

1) Your play must be no more than five lines.

2) Your play must have two characters.

3) You must use the phrase “say yes” somewhere within the play.

4) Plays will be performed by elementary school students, so age-appropriate language and subject material please!

5) Your play must be submitted to abeyrle@yptdc.org by December 14, accompanied by a donation of $25 or more to support YPT’s fall fundraising campaign.

Tips:  Use your favorite books, movies or even pop culture as inspiration (age-appropriate please). Include a conflict! Think outside the box! As we’ve seen from our students’ plays, even inanimate desk objects can become vivid characters. There are no wrong answers, and no idea is too crazy!

Help YPT make our holiday fundraising campaign our biggest ever, and show our students that anyone can be a playwright. Click below to make your donation and get started!

Need inspiration?  Here are some examples!

Inspired by The Book and the Restless by Aayanna Collier (featured in YPT’s 2012 New Play Festival and 2012 Express Tour)

The Book and the Restless: The Proposal

BENJAMIN: Annie, will you marry me?

ANNIE: Oh Benjamin! I really want to say yes … but before I do I need to tell you something … something that I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time …

BENJAMIN: What is it?  Are you in love with Manny? (Annie shakes head) A Geography Goon?  (Shakes headPerry?  (Shakes head) Then what? What could possibly stop us from living happily ever after in the fairy tale section?

ANNIE: I … I think I want to become a vegetarian.

BENJAMIN: (Faints)

The 5-Line Play: Can It Be Done?

NO: Say, Yes?

YES: What?

NO: Will you help me write this five-line play? I really want to help YPT serve more students and see my play on YouTube!

YES: No.

NO: HA! THE END!

Still stuck? We’re here to help! For updates, inspiration and playwriting tips be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter throughout December!

Thank you, as always, for your amazing support.  We can’t wait to read 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!