YPF in the Schools

YPF is an in-depth program that teaches and encourages educators to use playwriting techniques as a complementary educational tool, and in the more than 40 schools involved in the Chicago area, most teachers in the program spend approximately 6 weeks of a 36-week curriculum using these tools. 90% of the schools served by YPF are schools in the poverty bracket as defined by the federal government.

The ultimate goal of YPF is to make the arts a means of delivering the core language arts and literacy curriculum. YPF ignites students’ interest with the performance/workshop, giving basic instruction in play writing and providing an incentive to do so with the playwriting contest. The process of playwriting in the classroom brings into play all young people’s natural curiosity, creativity, energy, and initiative. This process encourages self-esteem, personal and social well being, and a deepened understanding of our multicultural world. The students that voice their creativity also develop higher-order thinking and real-life problem solving. Because the process begins with the individual student, it is intrinsically multi-cultural in nature, therefore immediately accessible, exciting, and non-threatening. The process allows for removal of cultural barriers between students and teachers. It makes learning fun and empowers individuals and gives self worth to their own experiences, their own points of view. Because the students can control the outcome of the story, they learn of the power of words and ideas; indeed, for many it is the first time that they see they have power over their own lives through the choices they make on the page.

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YPF Tour artists conduct in-class workshop

During the 2008-2009 school year, the Young Playwrights Festival reached more than 5,000 students. 803 scripts were submitted (our second record-breaking year in a row), written by 945 student playwrights, several entries being written cooperatively in groups. Through the Festival, Pegasus has reached more than 95,000 teenagers and received and evaluated over 11,000 original scripts. In 2008-2009, there were 107 YPF classroom tours and follow-up workshops teaching play writing in the Chicago schools, requested by 75 teachers in 45 schools and alternative sites. All but five of the public schools had a majority of their students living in poverty. Eight free YPF matinee performances were held for school groups. Approximately 1,700 students attended free matinee performances of the Festival plays.