2017 Recipient Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity
Young Playwrights Festival
Robert J. Roznowski, College of Arts and Letters
Williamston High School
The Young Playwrights Festival (YPF) is a juried competition that offers mid-Michigan high school students the opportunity to submit an original short play for production. Six finalists are selected to have their plays produced by the MSU Federal Credit Union Institute for Arts and Creativity at Wharton Center. YPF is a collaboration between Wharton and MSU Department of Theatre actors and directors. Each finalist is matched with a professional mentor who spends five weeks working with the student on the play. The plays are then performed twice before a live audience at Wharton’s Pasant Theatre, followed by a public reflection and assessment process.
The program began 20 years ago and has developed deeply collaborative roots among the academic, professional, and community partners who participate in jurying, mentoring, producing, directing, and advising these creative and talented young people. The program continues to grow stronger because of these relationships.
Williamston High School is one of the most engaged schools participating in YPF. One English teacher at the school, Jean Eddington Shipman, planned to continue experimenting with the new teaching techniques learned from working with the YPF and to use them in her fiction writing unit. Since the program’s inception 67 mid-Michigan high schools have participated, with students submitting 1,703 plays; more than 650 Department of Theatre students and staff have contributed their time and expertise.