YPF Frequently Asked Questions
The Young Playwrights Festival is the O'Neill's program for middle school and high school students. The Festival's mission is to provide young artists an opportunity to improve their writing and give them experience with playwriting as a craft and discipline. The festival begins with two days of rehearsal and culminates with a script-in-hand reading.
Anybody between the ages of 12 and 18 who is enrolled in school or is home-schooled.
After you’ve written your 10-15 page play and made sure it is properly formatted (see script format), download an application, fill out the checklist, and then mail your application and two copies of your script to the O’Neill by February 28, 2017.
YPF is looking for all sorts of plays. They can be serious, they can be funny. They can be about real situations or imagined ones. Most of all, YPF is looking for original plays that come from you!
The YPF is an opportunity for students interested in playwriting to get experience with the dramatic process at a truly world class institution. Participants will gain an understanding of dramatic form and structure, work with experienced theater artists, and most importantly, see their creative vision brought to life on the stage. Students will have an entire creative staff to work with, and will be given ample opportunity to re-write heading into the staged reading. While all of this is provided, the O'Neill does not provide housing or travel for festival attendees.
YPF began in 2006 under then Literary Manager, David White. Sophia Chapadjiev, Director of Education, has been running the festival and teaching in-school playwriting workshops since 2008.
On Friday, from 7-10pm you will meet the other young playwrights and your artistic team (director, actors, designer). You will also hear the first read-through of the plays. On Saturday, rehearsals take place starting at around 9am and go until around 6pm. On Sunday, rehearsals start in the morning again, followed by an afternoon technical rehearsal and the public performance in the early evening. If your play is selected, you will be required to be there for all rehearsals and for the presentation
"A GREAT EVENT! Those students were beaming from the experience, as they should have been. What a learning event for them. They will never forget it, I know. Those seeds we planted will flower, I can practically guarantee it. We at the high school are very grateful to you for extending this opportunity to our students."
- Gay Collins, English Teacher, Waterford High School
"Good Guy, Bad Guy, Bad Guy, Bad Guy was my first play, ever. So you can only imagine my surprise when I was chosen to be a part of the Young Playwrights Festival. I try to avoid big events and spotlights as much as possible. Friday May 9th rolled around quicker than I hoped it would, and this is where the fun began. I was nervous [but] something about the place felt like I belonged there. I just had to get used to the crowd of people.
Turns out that it wasn’t that hard. Every person I met and spoke to during the weekend was friendly. Everyone just slipped right into comfortable conversation. As if we all knew each other beforehand. I stopped feeling like a stranger. The butterflies in my stomach never left, they just calmed down a tad bit. I’m not too good with names but I’ll remember everyone's faces forever. Being with playwrights and actors for a weekend gave me a whole new love for theatre.
I got in the car to go home Sunday May 11th with a new sense of the person I am. I learned to use my voice and share the thoughts I have. I learned that you have to step up and make what you want happen. We didn’t put on a full Broadway production but in 3 days we produced something to woo the crowd with. I still don’t enjoy the spotlight but putting on a show people like and want more of made me so proud of myself. I hope to do it again.
The Young Playwrights Festival will stay on the list of Top 5 Life Changing Events for me. I wish that all aspiring Playwrights can experience the weekend I experienced. It was truly worth it."
- Sasha Volkerts, age 17, Good Guy, Bad Guy, Bad Guy, Bad Guy, 2014
"To me as a writer, the most helpful part of the festival was the first night when we read everybody’s plays for the first time. It enabled me to picture how I would further adapt my play to fit the cast I was given. It was also interesting to hear my own words performed out loud. In a way, it was like adding the last piece to the puzzle and feeling accomplished afterwards."
- Matthew Alfultis, age 16, Dayton’s Saxaphone, 2012
"The weekend was just so incredible. I learned a lot about how much work goes into a production. Between deciding sets and costumes to learning how different lights can affect the scene, it was all very new and exciting.
I never made any major changes to my play, but hearing other people read it helped me realize what didn’t make sense, or where I could change things to be more interesting.
My favorite part was talking with my cast and director. They allowed me to express what I thought, and they were a lot of fun to hang out with too. It was really amazing to see my play come to life through them. A show can go from whimsical to serious in a second, yet all the while a message gets across to the audience because of the actors, directors, and writers working together.
I have to say my favorite memory was Sunday afternoon, sitting on the outside stage laughing while the cast ran though the play in crazy accents, just having fun with it. None of us could keep straight faces, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It seemed like the perfect ending to the weekend, even before the performance."
- Lauren Rusk, age 13, The Perfect Mistake, 2014
"We want to thank… the Eugene O'Neill staff, the Young Playwrights Festival production team, and the sponsors of the Festival for an incredible experience. Caitlin's confidence in her writing ability grew dramatically over the course of that one intense, enriching, challenging, and rewarding weekend. We could not believe that she had her own production team working solely on every aspect of her play. Every member of her team treated her with professionalism and respect, and she told us she felt "humbled" by their interest in and respect for her play. We are truly grateful to the YPF for giving Caitlin the opportunity to take her play from a written draft to a staged reading in one amazing weekend."
- Cathy and Joe McQuade: Parents of Caitlin McQuade, age 17, Aftermath, 2014
"My first introduction to the Young Playwrights Festival was when I was in eighth grade. My Language Arts teacher taught a unit on playwriting and encouraged us all to submit our shows. My show was semi-finalist and I was fortunate enough to be able to go and observe the festival and watch the five plays selected form into wonderful works of art. I was able to talk about my own show with a mentor and develop my own ideas more.
Over the next two years that followed I continued to write my own plays using the techniques that I learned while at the conference. This past year I submitted one of my plays, A World with Three Sides, and was fortunate enough to be able to return the Young Playwrights Festival and see my own play performed.
My director and the actors made my play more than I could have ever imagined. My director had great insight on ways to make my plot clearer and bring out the emotion in the show. The actors were incredible and brought life to characters who, just a year before, had been no more than pictures in my mind. The actors asked incredible questions about their characters and the rules of the world in my play and were very curious about it. They had a certain energy and excitement towards the show that made the experience so enjoyable. Every step of the way my director would check with me to make sure things were how I had pictured which allowed me to be involved in the rehearsal process, which was very fun.
It was simply incredible to see something that had once been only an idea in my head come to life even brighter than I had ever pictured and none of it would have been possible without the Young Playwrights Festival."
- Carin Estey, age 16, A World with Three Sides, 2013