Last Friday, Ross School eighth graders culminated their studies in dramatic writing with original play performances as part of the Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP). Ross’s eighth grade students have participated in this program since its inception in 2008. During last weekend’s showcase, Ross students presented three pieces as part of an evening of short plays written by YAWP students from several East End school districts at Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theater.
Sponsored by Stony Brook Southampton's Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, YAWP pairs professional writers and writing teachers with area high school and middle school students in a variety of innovative, interdisciplinary writing workshops.
According to Grade 8 Team Leader Mark Tompkins, the program’s intentions, which include fostering creativity and building 21st century skills, align well with what participating students are learning in their classes. “One of the themes of the eighth grade year is ‘Finding Your Voice,’” Tompkins said. “This is another avenue in the spectrum of ways for students to learn to express themselves.”
The YAWP Playwriting Program is a two-month residency that introduces students to the principles of dramatic writing through a curriculum designed to develop ideas, characters, themes, and dialogue, and assist each student in the discovery of his or her unique perspective and creative voice. Every participating student completes a short one-act play, and one work from each participating class is picked by committee for professional staging at Avram Theater at Stony Brook Southampton. The selection committee also chooses a swing play for production, offered to a participating school that demonstrates excellence in the program. Ross was selected to perform this year’s swing play, resulting in the selection of three plays (rather than the usual two) for production. Students are then invited to audition to act in, assistant direct, or work on stage crew for the plays under the mentorship of YAWP program staff and professional theater artists.
The plays selected from Ross this year were written by Will Edwards, Hope Hamilton, and Isabella Hosey. Students performing in the plays included Kely A. ’22, Alex D. ’22, Evvy R. ’22, Zanzy R. ’22, Milla S. ’22, and Maya T. ’22.