Young Playwrights' Theater inspires young people to realize the power of their own voices.

Past Promising Playwrights

Jasmina Tang
Kiara Burnett
Noah Goldstein
Khalil Ready
Maya Schindler
Cristian Daly
Tokunbo Adedeinde
Aayanna Collier
Dachauna Johnson
Natalie Granados
Kreshaun Brooks
Marisa Poe
Pablo Swisher-Gomez
Rocio Carranza
Alexis Johnson
Jack Bartlett - Promising Playwright, September 2015
Dakota Dannett
Cristian Daly
Rosy Barrett, Jorge Martinez and Evelyn Piantini
Aoife Butler
Dominique Butler
Nanichi Vargas
Quanisha Mitchell
Christian Lara
Tony Jones
Josephine Crittenden
Gwen Straker
Chidinma Egesia
Nola James
Davon Green
Liam Wells
Nakia Greene
Nevaeh Edwards
Adrian Soriano
Jonathan Berry
Maxwell Leathers
Nana Gongadze
Raven Gabrielle Koo-Koo Abbey
Bernadet Assefa
Jeba Chemeda
Paul Schad
Genesis Lopez
Christina Schneider
Sam Burris
Morena Amaya
Patricio Juarez
Demi Jamison
Fallou Fall
Mya Gonzalez
McKenzie Tayloe
Kani Green
Julie Kashmanian
Aayanna Collier
Shawn Lee
Lillian Keller
Jenna Blanton
Ubochioma Obi Ukaegbu
Edwin Martinez
Shannon Marshall
KaMiya Barett
Sky Stringer
Ian Real
Elijah Brown
Christina Sheler
Ann Gill
Paul McCoyer
Reyna Rios
Joneya Simpson
Donyeah Phillips
Sydney Person
Aaliyah Rapp
Jalen Hamilton-Ross
Lindsay Pierce
Lillie Lainoff
Cassidy Boomsma
Kenrry Alvarado
Kalia Snowden
Charlee Mize
Karen Ocon
Nathan Sanders
De'Vanti Shouff
Daniel Nguyen
Mercedes Gramajo
Heidy Lovo
Madison Leathers
Kamilia Epps
Nicole Jost
Pete Hall
Priscilla Ward
Jorge Hernandez
Mayra Rivera
Maurice Olden
Julius Johnson
Tiara Parker
Gerson Blanco
Engedasew Menkir
Sophie ReVeal
Jane Stirling
Eronmwon Oviasogie and Diamond Miales
Ayrricka Street
Destiny Jackson
Nicole Jost
Berta Gonzalez
Aaron Boose
Cecelia Jenkins
Sheralyn Saunders
Christian Blanco
Kyle Sumner
Lyndsey Newsome
Irene Wu
Josie Guevara Torres
Kyrtham Franco
Fernando Romero

Promising Playwrights Each month,

Promising Playwrights

Each month, YPT profiles a new Promising Playwright in our electronic newsletter, the Wire

Leo Warner

Promising Playwright, February 2018

 

For Leo Warner, writing is a wonderful way to explore his imagination. In Ms. Fatima’s class at Truesdell Education Campus, this sixth grader decided to write a play that pushes the boundaries of fantasy and sci-fi! In his play, Leo introduces us to Xenuyes (Zee-NU-yez) who is part of an alien species called the Blue People. His people stole something from another alien species called the Green People. To make things right, Xenuyes travels to the planet of Blueberries to ask the Green People to forgive his people, but a deviant character named Miltek tries to stop him from completing his mission at all costs.

Leo admits that he’s still fleshing out all of the juicy details, but if it wasn’t for the encouragement of YPT teaching artist Ms. Fatima, he wouldn’t have gotten started in the first place. “I had missed a couple of classes and when I came back, I didn’t know how I could catch up and get started,” says Leo. “But Ms. Fatima told me to think of anything I wanted, so I came up with this idea.”

But Leo is not new to writing. This may be his first play, but he’s written poetry and even performed his poetry on stage as a poet/soccer player with DC nonprofit DC SCORES, which he also loves. “On some days it’s [soccer] practice, and on other days it’s writing. We plan for the poetry slam which happens each year.” He also plays soccer for Truesdell and hopes to either play soccer professionally or become a writer when he gets older.

Overall, Leo enjoys writing with YPT and thinks every kid should do it! “It’s pretty fun. If you get your work done on time, you get to see how it turns out,” Leo explains. “And you get to see if you are good at writing and if you like writing at all. You might not know that you like writing and then you end up figuring out that you like it a lot.”

Brianna Shaffer

Promising Playwright, December 2017

“I think [YPT] is a really good program, and I learned a lot about how to break down a play and how to research historical people that had lived in Washington DC.”

For 11th Grader Brianna Shaffer, the subject of her upcoming play is more than a person, rather, she is a representation of perseverance and achievement in Washington, DC.

The students at the SEED School of Washington, DC are merging their History and English studies through DCPS’ Tales from the Crypt project. Students research a person who lived in Washington, DC and write a play about their life. Brianna is creating a play about native Washingtonian, Sarah Nutter!

“[The project] is interesting because she really lived,” says Brianna. “It taught me not just about her, but the history of Black women in DC. [Sarah] lived in my neighborhood, so I’m learning about Dunbar, too.”

Brianna explained that Sarah Nutter lived around the turn of the century and attended Howard University, where she also helped found the first historically Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. After graduation, she became a teacher at Dunbar High School and also taught in Baltimore, but soon got married and stopped teaching. She had no children with her husband, Thomas Nutter.

While Brianna plans to use these facts and real events to craft the plot of her play, she explained that she’ll use her imagination to make inferences about the most intimate parts of Sarah Nutter’s life. “We do have to fill in the gaps,” says Brianna. “Like, when she got married, she had to stop working, so I thought, what if her husband had something to do with it? Maybe he wanted her to stay at home and become a housewife. So my play will be about her reflecting on her life and her achievements compared to her life as a married woman and how that life change affected her.”

This will be Brianna’s first play, but she’s written poems before and has a love for reading and watching plays. The SEED School has many opportunities to see student productions on stage. In her spare time, Brianna takes it easy by hanging out with friends and family and writing. Since her freshman year at SEED, she has participated in BUILD, an entrepreneurship program that teaches young people how to start their own businesses. Brianna’s business sells headphone organizers for those times when our headphone cords get tangled, or we need to pack our headphones away without damaging them.

Brianna loves the idea of entrepreneurship, but also hopes to study medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. “I wanted to be a businesswoman, but now, I am a businesswoman, and I want to expand that in the future while studying medicine.”

So far, Brianna really enjoys the Tales from the Crypt project with YPT. “I think it’s a really good program, and I learned a lot about how to break down a play and how to research historical people that had lived in Washington DC.”

We can’t wait to see the final product of Brianna’s play, which will be performed early this Spring at SEED.

Isaiah Williams

Promising Playwright, November 2017

“[YPT] was nice and fun,” says Isaiah. “It was fun to be able to write your own play, come up with your own stuff and see it all come to life.”

This fall, Isaiah Williams started his freshman year at the prestigious Ron Brown Preparatory High School, and he also took his very first In-School Playwriting Program with YPT! Isaiah discovered that plays can also explore our dreams and goals. In his play, currently untitled, Isaiah writes a cautionary tale about quick success in the music industry. 

In the story, aspiring music artist Meech meets DJ Drama, who promises him fame and money, but Meech soon finds out that fame and money do not come easily, and he learns a valuable lesson with the support of his friend, Kenny. 

“The idea for the play came from me because I like music a lot,” explained Isaiah. “I want to do something with music in the future.”

Isaiah is actually a very talented singer and beat boxer. He performed in his middle school talent show and intends on performing at Ron Brown for future social events and contests while working to push through his shyness.  He also plays for the Ron Brown Monarchs football and baseball team when he’s not working on music. 

While he’s not new to writing when it comes to music, this is Isaiah’s first time writing plays and stories. Now, he says he’s been trying to write more stories on his own time, and intends on writing more for the stage. He loves his history class, but after YPT, writing has become a favorite thing to do. “[YPT] was nice and fun,” says Isaiah. “It was fun to be able to write your own play, come up with your own stuff and see it all come to life.”

 We wish Isaiah a great first year at Ron Brown, and can’t wait to see what he does with music and writing!

Gabrielle Minor

Promising Playwright, October 2017

“This program was really fun! It gives you a chance to express your creativity and what you want to do on paper..."

 

Last month, YPT partnered with the Washington School for Girls in a one-week intensive In-School Playwriting Workshop with YPT Program Associate and teacher Claudia. The ladies of the Washington School for Girls learned about creating characters as protagonists and antagonists, conflict, resolution and dialogue and wrote captivating plays about spies, school drama, relationships with parents, thrillers and more! Seventh grade playwright Gabrielle worked with YPT actors to bring her short play That One Friend to life. In the play, a girl and her father are struggling with the death of her mother. The father does not want to let her mother go, so he tries to use magic to bring her back to life. The girl and her father must learn how to grieve and move on together.

 

Gabrielle says that inspiration for her play came from a book of poems she gave to her teacher in elementary school. In That One Friend, it was the girl's favorite poem from childhood that helped renew the bond between her father and her. “In third grade, I used to write a lot, and I was really good at reading,” Gabrielle explained. “I used to write words that rhyme and poems and things, and I had this big book that I gave to my teacher. It was full of all the stuff I wrote. I found out that she still has it, and I remembered that.”

 

When not writing her next great play, Gabrielle likes to draw, swims regularly and also dances when the spirit moves her! She plans to keep writing, too.

 

Overall, Gabrielle enjoyed writing with YPT. “This program was really fun! It gives you a chance to express your creativity and what you want to do on paper. When it gets acted out, it’s just like all your emotions are pouring out into a whole play.”

 

She even made friends with fellow students by learning more about their stories and interests. To Gabrielle, working closely with teachers during the process was a plus, too! “It really gave me a chance to communicate better. It gave me a better relationship with adults and friends that I really didn’t talk to or know, so it just got me closer to other people.”

 

We wish Gabrielle the best and hope she continues her exploration into playwriting!

 

Nikolas Baker

Promising Playwright, June 2017

 “I like when people see my work out there. It makes me feel good.”
 
This month’s Promising Playwright is Nikolas Baker! Nikolas is a rising junior at Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) and has been a proud and enthusiastic member of Young Playwrights’ Workshop for two years now. We picked his brain about writing, YPW and more!
 
As part of Young Playwrights’ Workshop, Nikolas has become a valued member of the group, contributing clever writing ideas, a fun spirit and positive energy. As a lover and doer of comedy, his favorite project as part of the Young Playwrights’ Workshop so far is "The Diddies," a project wrought from a sketch comedy workshop session held by teaching artist Rebecca Ballinger. “I’m a big fan of comedy and writing comedy,” says Nikolas. “I make myself laugh a lot more than I probably should.”
 
Nikolas’ creativity comes from many different places, but mostly from himself. “I sometimes pull things from things I’ve seen from other media, like TV shows and what not, and then I pull things from my life and combine them together.” For Nikolas, though, coming up with the idea is the hardest part of the writing process. It always depends on his mood. Sometimes he can think of ideas when he’s emotional, other times when he’s feeling good. “It’s like trying to get to Texas from DC on foot. It’s hard; you probably don’t want to do it, and it’s probably going to be hot because it’s summer.”
 
But the best part of writing for Nikolas is being able to put oneself into the story in creative ways. “You have multiple ways of conveying yourself,” he explains. “You can write a biography about yourself, or you can write yourself into a story. In the story I’m writing now, I’m putting myself into a bunch of characters without even trying to.”
 
Nikolas writes with the Workshop and on his own time too. But a lot of his joy from writing comes from being produced as part of Young Playwrights’ Workshop. “I like when people see my work out there. It makes me feel good.”
 
In addition to writing, Nikolas enjoys tinkering with electronics and has been known to modify computers and telephones for fun. In school, his favorite subject is English because it gives him another opportunity to write. Someday, he wants to publish a graphic novel or comic, combining his gift for words with a genre he loves.
 
Nikolas plans to take part in the Workshop next year and can’t wait. For him, Young Playwrights’ Workshop is the place to be. “It’s fun! Everything about it is fun. The people are fun, the activities are fun, and it’s just a fun place to be.”
 
If he could offer any advice for future writers, or for those interested in Young Playwrights’ Workshop, he says to never miss an opportunity for an idea. “If you have the idea, write it down. Don’t let the opportunity pass by.”