“[why we call the program a 'lab'] In a lab, you make sparks that shine. We’re going to be making sparks.”
- Josue, returning YPL student
- Josue, returning YPL student
On a particularly high-energy day at YPL last week, we finally got around to having the kids sit still and think a bit about what they think is really important for people to know. “If you had a message for the world — what would it be?”
Here are some of their responses:
“I think the world needs to be treated equally.” Janeya, 4th grade
“Why is there war? Why is there a war in Syria?” Anthony, 5th grade
“We should always be the best to other people.” Anastasia, 3rd grade.
Out of the mouths of babes.
By Kristen Zavar
Tyrell Halm, YPL spring 2013 from Donegan Elementary, says it simply:
This is what makes Touchstone’s Young Playwrights’ Lab so incredible. Through the program, students are given the opportunity each and every session to tap into their own creative thinking. When the playwrights begin their writing, they are able to share their thoughts and use their imagination without judgment or critique. This is what makes this program so unique!
- Noah (who repeated this statement with pride and enthusiasm three times)
This came in the mail last week. It’s a check from Target Corporation for $2,000 in support of the Young Playwrights’ Lab, and we are deeply grateful. (With an approximately $58,000 annual budget, that makes it only $56,000 more to raise.) It was a surprise, in a way; we hadn’t specifically budgeted for the gift, so we consider ourselves particularly fortunate. The Target Corporation gives away, according to a recent web article, $2 million a week, so this gift is a drop in the bucket for them. But for us it’s not little; it represents about 40% of the cost of an entire eight-week Young Playwrights’ Lab residency. Thank you, Target.
If there are any other individuals or businesses out there who would be willing to support this award-winning, arts-educational program, please contact me, Bill George, firstname.lastname@example.org. Incidentally, Touchstone’s Young Playwrights’ Lab is eligible for Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) for those businesses participating in that program.
We want people to know who the champions of the Young Playwrights’ Lab are; these partners are essential to the success of our work, essential to it happening at all; and if you feel like getting yourself a new outfit and find yourself at Target, tell them thanks, thanks for the support of our children, our schools, our Touchstone.
By Mary Wright
Back in July, Thom Hogan (photographer and videographer and YPL supporter extraordinaire) stopped by to donate three video cameras and a brand spanking new high-tech computer with gizmos and gadgets galore. He also brought with him all of the footage from the 2013 Young Playwrights’ Festival.
Right there and then, I was brought back to the magic and wonder of that night all over again. And to the incredible act of artistic bravery that is shown by all of the students who participate in the program.
On Saturday, May 19th at 7pm, more than three hundred people watched more than 45 actors in six original one-act plays. By the end of the evening, the young playwrights who had written those plays stood on the stage and received a standing ovation. They deserved it.
They may have thought the standing ovation was for the quality of their plays; and it was. But it was also, I think, for so much more than that. That standing ovation rewarded all the playwrights in the room for their hard-work, their risk-taking, their self-discoveries. It was also a testament to the power of the arts to move an entire audience of disparate people in the same ways: to laughter, to tears, to “aha” moments. It was a celebration of all that art can do and does do…and did.
As a first-time coordinator for the Young Playwrights Lab program this year, that moment at the end of the evening put the entire year in context. All of the meetings, the phone calls, the photo-copying, the organizing, the training, the teaching; all of it was for this moment of ultimate culmination: the celebration of the young artists among us.
It broke my heart that the youngest of all the playwrights, a lad named Keniel, couldn’t be there to see the final fruits of his endeavor. A sweet third-grader, still working at learning English, he had written a play about brothers. The hero of the play is the youngest brother who saves his older brother from a trap, an evil witch, and from death itself. My favorite line in the script is spoken by the young hero just before he re-enters the witch’s lair (a candy store). He says it to bolster himself up: I am brave.
Yes, Keniel. You were brave. You participated in a program that was completely new to you, in a language that is partly foreign to you, with fellow students you didn’t really know. You wrote, in English; and you wrote well. You created an action-packed play where children outwit the evil around them, rescue those near and dear to them, and remind themselves that they are, indeed, brave enough to face the dangers around them.
Keniel, I wish you could have seen the final production. I wish you saw, first hand, how your imagination fired the imagination of the director who cast the play and worked his own magic with it. I wish you could have stood up on that stage with the rest of the playwrights and seen the sea of faces and wildly clapping hands celebrating you and all you had created.
We are about to launch into year nine of bringing the Young Playwright’s Lab program to area schools. Now, thanks to the generosity of Thom Hogan, Keniel and others like him will be able to see for themselves just how brave they are, whether they can attend the Festival or not.