Vermont Young Playwrights Project
The Vermont Young Playwrights Project (VYP) was founded in 1995 by Vermont playwright, Dana Yeaton, with sponsorship from the Vermont Stage Company, the resident professional theater company of the Flynn Center, in Burlington, Vermont. The VYP has initiated more than 5,000 middle and high school students into the world of dramatic writing.
The program places professional playwrights as artists-in-residence in schools throughout the state to conduct 2 to 3-day sessions wherein participating students write and develop an original 10-minute script. The process includes in-class performance and peer critique, with guidance and constructive input from the visiting playwright.
The concept originated in a Voices of the Seasons grant project at the Rochester High School, funded by the Vermont Arts Council, and under the direction of Dana Yeaton. The early VYP program involved no more than 8 Vermont schools. Since then, the program has grown to include upwards of 16 schools, and maintains a waiting list.
Annually, the VYP culminates in a festival of new plays, workshops, and special performances. Over the course of the festival, first-time playwrights see their work brought to life by theatre professionals, to an audience of their friends, family, peers, and members of their community. In 1999 Blasts from the Future, the first anthology of 10-minute plays written by high school students, and selected from work developed in the first 3 years of the VYP, was published by Penstroke Press of Rochester, VT. It has been widely sold to high school drama departments around the country.
In November of ’04, the Vermont Young Playwrights Project was the recipient of a New England Theatre Conference (NETC) Regional Award for Outstanding Achievement in the American Theatre. In the 15th season of VYP Vermont Stage Company partnered with the Flynn Center for program administration. Now the Flynn Center manages the residency portion of VYP.
Drawing on its resources, the Flynn Center recruits the teaching playwrights to mentor students in the development of original 10-minute play scripts. The Flynn also manages program logistics, including: scheduling, fees, and play selection for the annual VYP festival. The Vermont Stage Company continues to produce the festival, finding directors and actors of high caliber to bring the student works to life.