We teach playwriting and theatre in grades 3-12, during and after school. Theatre professionals use a dynamic, interactive curriculum designed to support standards in English and Theatre. Lessons can be adapted to support
other content areas. Programs often culminate with professional actors performing students’ scripts. Learners at all levels enjoy success. Safe behind the mask of fiction, young people explore actions and their consequences. Empathy and compassion are fostered as students gain confidence, non-violent techniques for solving problems, essential language skills, and knowledge of theatre. Programs include:

Imagine That Creative Drama, grades 3-12
Write On!
Playwriting, grades 4-12
Professional Development for Teachers


Each year Californians under age 19 submit original scripts to the California Young Playwrights Contest. Every writer who requests feedback receives an individualized script critique. Selected writers win script readings or full professional productions in Plays by Young Writers. Distinguished artists from major theatres select festival scripts and write comments to the playwrights. With support from a dramaturg, each winning writer strengthens his or her script and participates in every step of the production process.

Plays by Young Writers, our annual festival of plays by contest winners, educates young artists in professional theatre as they work alongside experienced artists and technicians. Staged each year at a renowned theatre in San Diego (The Old Globe, San Diego Rep's Lyceum Theatre, and Old Town Theatre), the festival entertains viewers of all ages. Student matinees give hundreds of young people their first chance to “go to the theatre,” where they often meet characters grappling with conflicts much like their own, in plays praised by local critics. Nationally known dramatists whose first plays were staged in the festival include Karen Hartman, Jim Knable, Josefina López and Annie Weisman.


Telling Stories: Giving Voice to Foster Youth creates theatre from the life experiences of youth in and out of the foster care system. We developed the program in partnership with LEAP (Leadership Empowers All Possibilities), a group of young adults involved in advocating for changes to the system. When foster youth tell people about their experiences, the response is often, "That's not true. You're telling stories." Our theatre artists work with these storytellers during group sessions and one-on-one interviews to shape their stories into short plays, which are performed by professional actors. The youth and young adults examine the challenges they've faced, celebrate the positive choices and personal strength that have helped them persevere, and communicate their stories to encourage community involvement in improving the child welfare system. We are collecting stories from youth, care providers and others involved in all aspects of foster care and performing them as readings for the community. Let us know if you have a story to tell. The program is made possible through a grant from The San Diego Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation.

Lifestages creates grassroots theatre from the lives of older individuals. The program pairs seniors, with a lifetime of stories to tell, with actor/writers eager for material to dramatize. The writers interview the storytellers and then shape their wisdom and memories into dramatic vignettes, which are performed by theatre artists in senior residences and community venues.
Recollections writing workshops help groups of seniors craft their life experiences into theatre; professional actors perform scripts at the end of the program. Reflections brings performances of the seniors’ writing to community sites and local schools, bringing history to life for younger generations.


Playwrights Project also aspires to support adult playwrights in the development of new plays.  The following programs support this goal.

  • Play by Play is a dramaturgical process designed to further the development of new plays by local adult playwrights and strengthen the skills of new playwrights. The program offers playwrights the opportunity to hear their plays read by actors, engage in discussion with a select audience, and work one-on-one with a theatre expert to further develop their script. The program culminates in a community reading of the revised scripts.
  • Playwrights Village is the partnership of our Play by Play program and New Village Arts’ New Play Festival.  Selected scripts progress through the dramaturgical process of Play by Play and culminate in a workshop production produced at New Village Arts.
  • WordPlay Tuesday, created in collaboration with Diversionary Theatre, is a monthly opportunity for writers to hear their developing new works read out loud in a relaxed "open-mic" style setting. Writers select a ten minute segment of their evolving play (monologues, short stories, poems, songs and books are cool too!) for cold reading of the work, offering a chance to hear their words brought to life in front of a live, friendly audience. WordPlay actors are drawn informally from the audience, providing an opportunity for actors to practice cold reading skills and become acquainted with the work of emerging writers, while they take an important role in the creation of new plays. To learn more, click here. Email script submissions to Please include a brief synopsis of the overall story, and few notes about where you are in the development process.

    Since November 2012, twenty-four playwrights and writers have had a chance to have new works (or segments of their works) heard by a discerning audience of their peers. We did this while running over 100 teaching residencies, partnering with Cygnet Theatre to screen 54 new plays for Playwrights in Process and, of course, produced our signature program, Plays by Young Writers.  Simultaneously, our WordPlay Tuesday partner, Diversionary, has produced three full productions and hosted four readings of new full-length plays.

  • Playwrights in Process, is Cygnet Theatre’s new play festival, produced in partnership with Playwrights Project, during a three day festival in November 1-3, 2013 at Cygnet’s Old Town Theatre.  The Festival includes audience-focused workshops, pre-performance receptions, and post-show discussions focused around four selected plays.  Writers will work with a director/dramaturg from time of selection through table reads, rehearsals and s staged reading presented before a discerning theatre audience.  Writers will receive feedback through a facilitated discussion with the audience to better prepare the works for future productions. 


    What People Say About Us


      Offering our students the opportunity to research, write, and stage their own play has been the most valuable learning experience I've seen in 14 years of teaching.
    -Junior High School Teacher

    The best educational experience my daughter had in her high school years.
    ~Parent of a Student Participant in a Playwriting Residency

    A model program for schools...
    One of our star projects."
    ~California Arts Council

    I believe in the power your project has to motivate reluctant learners... Playwrights Project helped my students to discover the power within them to move others through their writing...We need the kind of enthusiasm and good teaching you provide...a structure in which our young people can imagine and create.
    -Continuing Education Teacher, Garfield High School


      I learned that I’m a strong minded young lady, and even through hard times I’ve been successful. I also learned how little things people have done have helped me keep going and not giving up when everything is bad.
    ~ Young woman recently emancipated from the foster care system 

    I enjoyed the instructor's commitment and joy in giving the course, the comfort and rapport amoung all participants, the diversity and richness of the group. This has been a vastly rewarding experience.
    ~Senior Lifestages Participant
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