Song & Stage

YAWP High School Playwrights Festival Coming Saturday to Southampton

Five short plays written and performed by local high school students will be presented in a free program open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theater on Saturday, December 12, at 7 p.m., as the culminating event of the 2015 Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP) High School Playwriting program. Playwrights for the fall festival were drawn from YAWP playwriting classes at Bridgehampton High School, Sag Harbor’s Pierson, Eastport South Manor, and the YAWP Summer Workshops.

The festival represents a collaboration between student playwrights, actors and designers who have been taught and mentored by theater and writing professionals affiliated with Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literature, which created and sponsors the YAWP programs. Professional directors stage the plays, which encompass a wide array of genres—from comedies to dramas—with subject matter drawn from the students’ own lives.

The Young Artists and Writers Project is dedicated to mentoring middle and high school students in the development of creative expression and critical thinking through writing, and is an integral part of Stony Brook Southampton’s commitment to its community and to the next generation of readers and writers. The 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 YAWP High School Playwriting Residency this fall. Over 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.

YAWP is organized and administered by executive director Emma Walton Hamilton and program director Will Chandler.

For ongoing curriculum development and program design, the YAWP administrators draw on the strengths of the Stony Brook Southampton MFA faculty, including novelist and MFA Director Robert Reeves, Whiting Award-winning poet Julie Sheehan, best-selling memoirist and editor-in-chief of The Southampton Review Lou Ann Walker and screenwriter and Emmy award-winning producer Annette Handley Chandler.

“The YAWP programs are a wonderful way for us to reach—and to help shape— the next generation of American writers,” Reeves said, “as well as an ideal way to offer training and teaching experience to our very talented graduates and graduate students.”

The YAWP Playwriting Festival takes the stage on Saturday, December 12, at 7 p.m. at the Avram Theater in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Old Montauk Highway, Southampton. Tickets for the performance are free. For reservations and more information, email

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