by Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator
Some students grow up dreaming to write; others use writing as a way to express their dreams, desires, and inner most thoughts.
The young authors of Young Playwrights’ Theater perhaps do both, and now have a new platform from which to share their words with the world. This winter, Young Playwrights’ Theater published its first book, Write to Dream — a collection of plays written by YPT students, as well as information on YPT’s arts education program and curriculum.
The plays written by YPT students represent an artistic achievement worthy of publication in and of themselves, but the additional information on curriculum and assessment adds an additional level of justification and value to YPT’s work. Plays range in topic from satires on capitalism (written by a fifth grader!) to magnetic superheroes, inter-racial romance and gang violence.
“YPT gives students an outlet for creative expression and empowers them to discover the impact and value of their ideas and stories,” said Brigitte Pribnow Moore, executive director of YPT. “But what we’ve given them doesn’t hold a candle to the gift they’ve given back to us with these moving works. Whether these plays evoke laughter, tears, or cause readers to pause and reflect on an important social message, the ability of these young playwrights to craft such powerful plays is truly impressive.”
YPT artistic director, Nicole Jost added, “While this book is intended for and will appeal to a broad audience, we hope that teachers, in particular, will use it to engage and inspire their own students and foster learning in any subject –whether it;s English, history or even math.”
In browsing through the 350+ page book, I was inspired by the creativity, imagination, and honesty of YPT’s playwrights — and the maturity of content that many of their works expressed. One story that particularly moved me addresses the subject of homophobia and exclusion and was written by an 11th grade playwright. Her play tells the story of a young gay woman who is riding the subway when she overhears a man on his cell phone expressing his disgust for gay people. When the train gets stuck, she tells him how offensive his words are, and, after a heated conversation, the man begins to question his biases.
A statement written by the playwright shows how YPT’s work is affecting the lives of those who not only write, but the impact they hope to have on our communities at large: “When I created my characters, I decided to leave the fear of judgment behind, believing that my work could change habits of hatred. I had been passive, but I now know that being an advocate for justice is the path to a better future.”
Click here for more information on the book’s publication, and here to learn about other Catalogue arts-education nonprofits.