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High Schoolers Present Short Plays

10 original plays by students in the Young American Writers Project will be performed Saturday at a free festival.

In the culmination of the 2011 Young American Writers Project High School Playwriting Program, 10 short plays written and performed by local high schoolers will be presented Saturday at 's Avram Theatre.

The third annual event includes students from , , , Westhampton Beach, Shelter Island, Ross and Eastport South Manor schools, as well as from the Foreign Language Academy of Global Studies in the Bronx. About 125 students took part in YAWP's inaugural playwriting residency and retreat this fall, according to Stony Brook Southampton, and one play from each class was chosen to be produced at the festival Saturday.

Students in the playwriting program were mentored  by theater and writing professionals affiliated with Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literature, which created and sponsors the YAWP programs.

"Professional directors stage the plays, which encompass a wide array of genres — from comedies to dramas — with subject matter drawn from the students' own lives," a statement from the MFA program reads.

YAWP was created under Executive Director Emma Walton Hamilton, a best-selling children's book author and co-founder of , and Program Director Will Chandler, an American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship screenwriter.

“Dramatic writing and production skills give young people unparalleled lessons in communication and collaboration,” Hamilton said. “They build confidence, and have a direct impact on young people’s abilities to become engaged and compassionate citizens in later life. This project represents a wonderful synergy between all the creative disciplines and values about which we are passionate.”

“When we go into schools, we work closely with classroom teachers as we convey the basic elements of dramatic writing,” Chandler added. “Learning dramatic writing is a great way to improve overall writing skills, but what we’re really teaching them is that each student has a ‘voice,’ and we want to hear it.”

The festival, admission to which is free, starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Avram Theater, in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of . For reservations and more information, email william.chandler@stonybrook.edu

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