From Page to Stage:
YPT helps DC Youth find their voices

 

The only professional theater in DC dedicated entirely to arts education has an ambitious mission: To inspire young people to realize the power of their own voices.

Karen Zacarías founded Young Playwrights’ Theater in 1995 out of a desire to use her experience with art to positively impact her community. Since then, the program has exploded. YPT has produced more than 350 plays and reached more 13,000 students, performing for nearly 100,000 people across the DMV.

 YPT founder Karen Zacarias/Source: YPT Facebook page

YPT founder Karen Zacarias/Source: YPT Facebook page

YPT works directly with students in schools in the DMV through its large array of program offerings. “I got my start with them when they came to my school through the In School Playwriting Program when I was in middle school,” said Nana Gongadze, a YPT alumna. “A play I wrote – ‘The Alligator Summer,’ a comedy about kids looking for a summer job - was chosen as part of the New Play Festival.”

Through playwriting, YPT “develops students’ language skills, and empowers them with the creativity, confidence, and critical thinking skills they need to succeed in school and beyond,” according to the organization’s website. YPT’s vision is to seek social justice by empowering all students, especially those who from underserved areas, to value their own voices and opinions.

 YPT Student Advisory Committee/Source: YPT Facebook page

YPT Student Advisory Committee/Source: YPT Facebook page

 “YPT (helped) me realize that I could be more than I already am,” said Anna Vargas, another YPT alumna and current member of their Student Advisory Council. “I’d never done creative writing before — I didn’t think I could write as well as some of my friends. YPT has helped me believe in myself.” (Next)

About the Author: Marisa Weidner is a graduate of The College of William and Mary. She has volunteered as a teacher in Belize, and in homeless shelters in the United States. Marisa chronicles her explorations of DC on her blog, The Curated City