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High School Playwrights Festival at Southampton

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yawpimageEight short plays written and performed by high school students from area schools will be presented on Saturday, December 12, at 7:00 pm at Stony Brook Southampton‘s Avram Theater as the culminating event of the new Young American Writers Project (YAWP).

“Dramatic writing and production skills give young people unparalleled lessons in communication and collaboration,” said bestselling author and Executive Director Emma Walton Hamilton. “This project represents a wonderful synergy between all the creative disciplines and values about which I am passionate.”

The program is affiliated with SB Southampton’s esteemed MFA in Writing and Literature program. Participating schools include Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor’s Pierson, Southampton, Eastport South Manor, and the Foreign Language Academy of Global Studies in the Bronx, as well as physically challenged students sponsored by the Southampton Fresh Air Home.

The festival represents the collaboration between student playwrights, actors, and designers who have been taught and mentored by theater and writing professionals.

“When we go into schools, we work closely with classroom teachers as we convey the basic elements of dramatic writing,” Program Director Will Chandler added. “Learning dramatic writing is a great way to improve overall writing skills, but what we’re really teaching them is that each student has a ‘voice,’ and we want to hear it.”

Professional directors stage the plays, which encompass a wide array of genres with subject matter drawn from the students’ own lives.

The YAWP is dedicated to mentoring middle and high school students in the development of creative expression and critical thinking through writing. YAWP programs send professional writers and teaching artists into classrooms to lead workshops in a wide array of writing disciplines, including playwriting, screenwriting, poetry, personal essay, and fiction.

More than 100 students participated in the inaugural YAWP High School Playwriting Residency and Retreat this fall. During the course of two months, students explored the basic elements of dramatic writing: how to develop ideas, characters, themes, dialogue, and scenes. One play from each participating class was then selected for production in the Festival.

Tickets for the performance are free. For reservations and more information, e-mail

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