Award-winning Arts Education Nonprofits Young Playwrights’ Theater and InsideOut Literary Arts Project to Bring High School Students from Two Cities Together through Poetry, Playwriting and 21st Century Technology

From October 14 to October 18, programming and leadership staff of DC-based Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT) and Detroit-based InsideOut Literary Arts Project will meet in Detroit to create a brand new multidisciplinary art education curriculum that will be brought to classrooms in the two cities in the spring of 2014. My Art is So Loud: The 524 Project will allow high school students to rewrite the narrative about their cities and share their stories with students and adults around the country.

“Both Detroit and DC loom large in the national imagination,” says YPT Artistic Director Nicole Jost. “We hear stories about these two cities all the time. What we want to do is empower these young people—the city’s residents—to tell the stories of their own communities. Our hope is that they will challenge and inspire each other, as well as the rest of the country.”

The program curriculum will blend the strengths in both organizations’ curriculums to create a new, hybrid model that integrates poetry writing, playwriting and media arts. It will be implemented at Ballou Senior High School in DC and Western International High School in Detroit. These two classrooms will use iPad technology to teleconference and collaborate to create poetry, playwriting and visual art. This cross-disciplinary project will bridge the 524 miles between DC and Detroit, enabling students to begin a dialogue about how they relate to their hometowns and to create a new narrative of cities that are frequently represented to the world as centers of extreme poverty, high crime and violence. The project seeks to challenge perceptions and to build new understandings of Detroit and Washington, DC.

YPT will broadcast the plays, poetry, and video art created by the students to a national audience online via tumblr and through live performances in DC and Detroit, empowering youth to reclaim their city’s legacy and to spark conversations about each city’s past, present and future. Once the program begins, the tumblr will be updated in real time, featuring video footage from the students in the classroom, performances of student work, photo sharing and behind the scenes interviews with the teaching artists, giving audiences the opportunity to follow the story of this experimental program as it unfolds.

YPT was founded eighteen years ago, and has served over 11,000 students in the Greater Washington region in that time. This is the first time that the YPT model will be implemented outside of the DC area.

YPT is able to implement this project thanks to the MetLife/TCG A-ha! Program: Think It, Do It, which empowers Theatre Communications Group members to take groundbreaking approaches to artistic, managerial, production and/or technological challenges and opportunities. YPT was one of three theaters in the country to receive a $50,000 Do It grant this year.

“This is the kind of collaboration that could only happen in this time of new media and shrinking distances,” says Brigitte Moore, Executive Director of YPT. “Not only will the 524 Project empower young people to shape the national perception of their cities’ past, present and future, it will revolutionize possibilities for artistic collaboration using 21st century technology. We hope this project is only the first of its kind and are thrilled to have Detroit as our first national partner.”


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