Giving young Bay Area playwrights the opportunity to develop their work is the goal of the San Francisco Young Playwrights Foundation, created in 2005 by Lauren Yee. The author of more than a dozen plays, which have been produced for festivals and theaters around the world, Yee knew firsthand the benefits of gaining early writing experience. In high school and later as a Yale University student, she won awards and gained recognition from events ranging from the California Young Playwrights Festival to the Florida Teen Playwright Festival. But despite the many programs available for teen performers in her hometown of San Francisco, there was a lack of opportunities for students to hone their skills in writing for the stage.
In 2001, as a student at Lowell High School, Yee founded the entirely student-run Youth for Asian Theater. A few years later, she decided it was time for a citywide festival, and in May 2006, she inaugurated the first San Francisco Young Playwrights Festival at the Diego Rivera Theater, City College of San Francisco.
Spark follows four of the high school seniors and juniors whose work was chosen from the dozens of submissions that bring to life stories drawn from the students’ own lives and experiences. The process of selecting and developing the work of the festival’s participants began in September, when the teens submitted their work. After the winners were selected, two months of polishing followed, under the guidance of mentors from the professional theater community. The process culminated in a public performance in May 2006.
Helping to promote young voices and fresh perspectives in the San Francisco theater scene is one of the primary goals of the San Francisco Young Playwrights Foundation. Yee plans to make the Young Playwrights Festival an annual event, and she hopes the festival will encourage more kids to think about writing as a career.