the YOUNG CAlifornia WRITERS PROJECT
The Young California Writers Project is a 10 week program administered by the San Francisco Mime Troupe in which an established playwright guest teaches the art of playwriting to students in one or several Bay Area high school English classes.
SFMT has done residencies at San Francisco's Mission High Schools, Oakland's School of Social Justice, and Skyline High, as well as single-day workshops at schools throughout the Bay Area.
The YCWP began as a project of the Magic Theatre in the late 1990's, but when the Magic discontinued the program in 2007 one of the long-time teachers, Mime Troupe Resident Playwright Michael Gene Sullivan, brought YCWP to the Troupe, and SFMT has been administering it ever since.
In recent years SFMT has worked most closely with San Francisco's Balboa High School, collaborating with administrators and teachers as YCWP has become a vital highlight in their students' academic year.
Through discussion and writing exercises the students are introduced first to the essentials of dramatic writing, story creation, then character creation, then dialogue, and then how to combine those elements to tell a dramatized story. Finally they are given the opportunity to create short plays telling the stories that matter the most to them.
At the end of the program a self-selected group of young playwrights have their work presented at the Mime Troupe Studio in San Francisco's Mission District- performed by professional actors and staged by professional directors - in a staged reading presented for free to teachers, parents, neighbors, fellow students: anyone who wants to hear the amazing plays these writers have created.
Our teacher encourages the students to tell meaningful stories, important stories, to write short plays that will have an impact on the audience. As Michael says, "This may be your only chance to have a group of adults have to sit down, be quiet, and listen to what you have to say, your feelings, your experiences, to see the world and what you are dealing with through your eyes, and in your voices."