Young minds, young creativity and lots of talent came together January 12 to celebrate the publication of Young Playwrights’ Theater’s first book, Write to Dream. It features 30 plays written by students in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Each story is as unique as the student who wrote it.
Shannon Marshall, 18, wrote a play called Society Unjust about gentrification in the Washington, DC area when she was a junior at Bell Multicultural High School. “Analyze everything and whatever you feel is not right, do not complain, but make something of it,” she advises future young playwrights. “If you see something in your neighborhood that should be changed, don’t ever feel that your voice is too small because your voice is never too small. You have to find your outlet in order to let other people know.”
The Stranger was written by Sam Burris, when he was an eighth grader at Swanson Middle School in Arlington, Va. “My play is about a veteran who comes back from overseas. He has led his men into an ambush that has been set by one of his men and everyone, except for him, died. Ever since then, he was haunted by this fear of strangers and this lack of trust. It was how his post-traumatic stress disorder formed. So, it’s about him getting over it and learning to trust people through his music. He plays guitar and he begins to trust a producer,” said Burris, now a freshman at Washington Lee High School in Arlington, Va.
Polished, by Julie Kashmanian, was performed at the book launch. She wrote the play when she was in the eighth grade at H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program in 2011 and chronicles two sisters locked in a bathroom while one of them polishes her nails, despite sickening fumes. This heartfelt, funny play is yet another example of Young Playwrights’ Theater’s impact on the community.
“To celebrate their accomplishment of becoming published authors is so exciting for them, but also incredibly inspiring for us and also a reminder of why we do what we do,” said Brigitte Pribnow Moore, Executive Director of Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT). “We teach students to express themselves clearly and creatively through the art of playwriting and we have found that our model not only teaches literacy skills and engages students more deeply in their learning, but also provides them with the creativity, critical thinking skills and confidence that they need to succeed in school and beyond.”
Marshall and Burris plan to continue playwriting.
The book also includes curriculum for teachers, complete with workshops and full scripts from each play, as a way to help with the high demand for the YPT program.
Pribnow Moore says YPT plans to offer a limited apprenticeship program in the summer or fall. Volunteers are also needed as ushers at events. For more information or to donate to the non-profit organization, contact Laurie Ascoli at (202) 387-9173.
Young Playwrights’ Theater was founded by Karen Zacarias in 1995.