Young Artists and Writers Project Festival Opens

Bridgehampton students performing in the Young Artists and Writers Festival in 2018. Courtesy photo

Six short plays written and performed by local middle school students will be presented at Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theater on Saturday, May 11, at 7 p.m. as the culminating event of the 2019 Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP) Middle School Playwriting program. The six plays in this year’s festival were written by playwrights in YAWP classes at Bridgehampton, The Ross School, and Shelter Island, along with one student from Hampton Bays who took part in the 2018 YAWP Summer Scriptwriting Workshop.

The Middle School Playwrights 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 an 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 the 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 Middle School Playwriting Residency this spring. 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.

The Young Artists and Writers Project is helmed by Executive Director Emma Walton Hamilton and Program Director Will Chandler.

“Dramatic writing and production skills give young people unparalleled lessons in communication and collaboration,” Ms. Hamilton says. “They build confidence, and have a direct impact on young people’s abilities to become engaged and compassionate citizens in later life. This project represents a wonderful synergy between all the creative disciplines and values about which we are passionate.”

The YAWP Middle School Playwriting Festival takes place this year on Saturday, May 11, at 7 p.m. at the Avram Theater, in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton. Tickets for the performance are free. For reservations and more information, email