I actually said that to my fiancée Saturday night at the National Press Club. We were gathered for Young Playwrights' Theatre’s 2015 Giving Voice Award Gala. YPT was celebrating 20 years helping students write and experience theater.
Ms. Rehm was the evening’s guest of honor and recipient of the award, which “recognizes extraordinary individuals who have exemplified YPT's spirit and vision by giving voice to the voiceless and inspiring others to realize their full potential,” according to YPT’s website.
The night’s theme was “Back to the Future,” in honor of 2015 as the year we all get hover boards.
Guests were invited to dress up as their favorite characters for photos with a DeLorean. Music ranged from Pharrell to Madonna. One of my favorite moments was hearing Michael Jackson’s “PYT,” which really should be YPT’s theme song.
Volunteers were on hand throughout the evening.
“(It’s) really cool to see how the program teaches kids in a way that school does not,” said volunteer and actor Anna Lynch. She added that students have need for creative opportunities when so much focus is on test preparation.
Lauren Alexander, a staff member at Imagination Stage, a Bethesda-based educational youth theater, said she likes that the two programs are “not in competition,” but have a “bridge” of cooperation between them.
YPT’s executive director Brigitte Pribnow Moore calls herself, “YPT’s Professional Giver of Thanks.” She thanked the crowd for enabling YPT to “inspire thousands of young people to realize the power of their own voices,” growing those voices from 200 students in 1995 to 2,000 students today.
And then… it was time for Diane Rehm. Incidentally, we had the distinct pleasure of riding in the same elevator as Ms. Rehm, who was gracious and affable. She’s my new write-in candidate for That Office I Inevitably Didn’t Know Was Up For Re-Election This Year.
Rehm noted the similarities between YPT and her NPR show. “Both take words and create images,” she said, “and your job is even harder than mine, because you create those images on stage.” She applauded YPT’s staff and supporters for being “beautiful in your dedication to young people.”
Three of those young people read letters they had written to a “YPT Student Twenty Years from Now.”
Third-grader Evan Alston assured future students that they’ll “be inspired.” Anna Vargas, 11th grade, said YPT has made her “a lot more confident.” I was most struck by Mitchell Adams, a ninth-grader who began by admitting that when the letter was read, he would be “really, really, really old, like, 35 years old.”
Natalie Piegari, YPT’s fundraising fellow, spoke to us about the effects of organizations.
“I think art can change the world, but I think it starts with youth, it starts with children,” she said. “I’m here because I had the chance to study the arts as a child and it changed my life.”