PLAYWRIGHT MENTORING PROJECT
Barrington Stage Company’s Playwright Mentoring Project (PMP) is a theatre program for young people ages 13-19 who have stories to share and things to say. Groups meet once a week from October- April. No prior theatre experience is required! Together your group will create and perform an original play based on stories and experiences from your own lives. A stipend will be paid to those who participate.
For more information:
Call Jane O’Leary at 413-239-4PMP or email JOLeary@
“It’s nice to be in such a supportive atmosphere where I don’t have to be afraid to say what I think or feel… to be somewhere where I can just be honest and be who I am.” —Samantha, PMP participant
In 2007 Barrington Stage Company’s Playwright Mentoring Project received the national Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. This is the nation’s highest honor for after school and out of school programs in the arts and humanities.
PMP is an intensive, six-month, out-of-school activity that uses theatre as a catalyst to help under-served youth learn valuable life skills that will aid them in developing positive self-images. Over the course of the program teens are enabled to create an original performance piece based on their own stories in a safe and confidential environment where they can express themselves, can develop conflict/resolution skills and together can create a supportive community.
PMP participants range in age from 13 to 19. Many live in foster homes, in single parent families or in families struggling to support themselves financially. These teens are frequently struggling with issues such as bullying, substance abuse, foster care, unconventional family structures, violence, pregnancy, sexuality, self-injury, eating disorders, date rape, racism, and acculturation, as well as many of the other challenges that youth face during the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Beginning in October, PMP groups meet once a week after school for a two hour session as the artistic team guides the participants through a series of trust exercises, improvisations, storytelling, and conflict resolution workshops. The sessions culminate in April with a performance piece conceived, written and performed by the participants at local high schools, community centers, and atBarrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage.
The Playwright Mentoring Project gives teenagers a safe place to talk about serious issues in their daily lives—issues at home, in school, at work, with friends—all of it kept in the strictest confidence. Through rigorous theatre instruction, participants learn the fundamentals of theatre games and improvisation from experienced mentors. Theatre is used as a means of self exploration and self expression. A typical Playwright Mentoring Project session includes:
- A check-in where each participant shares experiences from the past week
- Physical and vocal acting warm-ups
- Theatre games and trust exercises
- Improvisation of serious issues/discussion topics introduced by the participants
- Development of script with professional playwright
- Rehearsal of script created by students
Participants are led and supported by the following staff throughout the course of the seven-month intensive program:
Artistic Mentor—The project leader who guides the group through its emotional journey, steering the storytelling and improvisations towards a finished, performable product.
Peer Mentors—Two young adults slightly older than the participants who have experienced the same issues as the participants and have succeeded in finding positive solutions to those issues. Peer mentors share stories, participate in all activities, and perform with participants in the final production.
Professional Playwright—An advisor to the participants in the artistic process of developing a play, the playwright collaborates with the mentors and participants to bring the teen’s ideas together in dramatic form.
Mental Health Counselor—A professional therapist who occasionally assists in addressing the more serious and complex issues that come up in group discussion, acting as an on-hand resource to participants interested in accessing outside counseling.
PMP gives participants focus and discipline that is often missing in their day-to-day lives while teaching them to develop solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Conflict resolution skills introduced and reinforced by the program empower participants to make positive long term life choices and to act as leaders among their peers.
For more information about the Playwright Mentoring Project contact Jane O’Leary, Director of Education, at 413-997-6117.
Our deepest appreciation to the following for major support of The Playwright Mentoring Project:
Boraski Family Children’s Fund to benefit BSC’s Educational Programming
Berkshire United Way, Elayne Bernstein & Sol Schwartz, Sydelle & Lee Blatt, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Rhoda Herrick, The Peter F. and Mary W. Levin Philanthropic Fund at Interact for Change, Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Inc., Massachusetts Cultural Council, Title V*
Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Bessie Pappas Charitable Foundation, Inc., Coolidge Hill Foundation, The GE Foundation Matching Gifts Program, Joan & Jim Hunter, Alan Sagner & Bea Bloch
Anonymous, Avangrid Foundation, Inc., Elaine and Robert Baum, Jane & Jay Braus, Harold & Paula Byrdy, Kathleen & Neil Chrisman, Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire, John & Janet Egelhofer, Reba & Bruce Evenchik, Tara Ferriter, Deborah Gelston, Stephanie & Bob Gittleman, Marita & David Glodt, Maureen & Paul Hickey, Peter & Roberta Lafayette, Pamela Lichty, Betsy McKearnan, Monterey Cultural Council, Lyn & Robert Petricca, Roxie Pin, Pittsfield Local Cultural Council, Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation, Richmond Cultural Council, Rotary Club of Pittsfield, James Ruberto, Ken & Fran Rubenstein, Rosita Sarnoff & Beth Sapery, Jane & Marty Schwartz, Rev. Linda Short, Lauren Spitz, Pamela & Richard Stebbins, Anne & William Tatlock, Kathi & John Thonet, Erica Tuchman, W.P. Stewart & Co. Inc. Foundation, Robert & Karen Youdelman
*This project was supported by subgrant No. 2009-JP-FX -0039, 2010-JP-FX -0055 and 2011-JP-FX -0058 awarded by the state administering office for the Title V Community Prevention Grant Program. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the state or the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.