Writers Theatre Education Programs
Writing and Performance Residencies in the classroom with professional artists.
Lifelong learning experiences in writing, theatre and the creative process.
From its inception 30 years ago, Writers Theatre of New Jersey has committed itself to providing quality writing programs to schools and community-based organizations. The Madison Young Playwrights Program was our first project as a theatre company, and this program continues to this day.
Over the years, our work has expanded to the entire state and 25 years ago, in a partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts on the New Jersey Writers Project, we added Poetry and Prose to our offerings. We also offer performance residencies in theatre and for poetry.
Our teaching artists are professional writers or theatre practitioners who have been trained to work in classroom environments. They are attuned to the creative needs of the individual students and aware of classroom teachers’ educational and affective objectives.
You can read a little about each program in the Program Overview tab on the left. For more in-depth descriptions, click on the individual program tabs on the left, which will also provide you links to the program web pages.
The New Jersey Writers Project– Poetry, prose, and playwriting residencies taught by professional writers. The Language in Motion Residencies bring professional actors onsite to lift the student’s words off the page in rehearsed staged readings.
The Creative Acts Academy- Our onsite classes for kids and adults that emphasize writing and performance skills, and encourages a life-long commitment to the arts and the creative process.
New Jersey Poetry Out Loud- Part of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud National High School Poetry Recitation Contest, NJPOL is one of the largest programs in the country. Along with the state-wide competition that starts with six regional semi-finals, we offer a mentoring program for the state finalists, professional development for their teachers, and POL Residencies in the Schools.
The New Jersey Young Playwrights Program- At 33 years and counting, NJYPP is the third-oldest continously-running playwriting contest and festival in the country. Over 300 scripts from students grades 4-12 are submitted annually.
The New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate Program- NJYPL is a state-wide contest for NJ Poets, grades 9-12. The contest chooses three laureates, from Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey. Their work is published in an anthology. An additional 25-30 poems on a specific theme are chosen and will be published online.
The Rose City Initiative- WTNJ is based in Madison, NJ, and has a number of programs designed to develop, nurture, and serve the creative lives of Madison residents. This includes the Madison Young Playwrights Program, the Madison Summer Recreation Shows, in-school student development programs, and Classroom Teacher Professional Development. We are also deeply involved in the Madison Arts and Culture Alliance, an organization committed to promoting and sustaining the arts and culture in Madison and surrounding towns.
Brick City Initiative- WTNJ has a long history of providing writing and performing programs in Newark. We teach over 1,000 students per year, including senior citizens, and students with disabilities. Our Newark Writers Festival presents these works in partnership with NJPAC, and in a special arrangement with Newark 350, we will be working with senior citizens to provide readings of the seniors work at their living and gathering sites.
Youth-Driven Theatre- This program seeks to create professional theatre by and for younger audiences. This includes plays written by professional writers and commissions to young writers to create theatre for youth. Efforts often overlap other programs, like our Drew Capstone Project, which commissions a professional writer to create works with Drew University Theatre Seniors.
Audience Development Programs- Attached to our New Work Development Program, this effort is designed to provide audiences with opportunities to directly interact with writers and artists, in order to better understand the process of developing and presenting theatre.
Working with over 15,000 students annually, the New Jersey Writers Project brings an impressive roster of professional writers into classrooms and community-based organizations to help students and teachers discover the joys of writing, performing, and being creative. Residencies work with students grades 3-12, are four to twenty-one days in length, and include pre-residency meetings with classroom teachers, as well as a professional development component for all teachers and administrators at the school.
CAA classes emphasize high-quality professional writing and performance skills, but our focus is on the whole student. Not everyone aspires to be a full-time artist, but hands-on work in the arts can change the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. It brings confidence and creativity to everything we do. It builds tolerance, empathy, and patience, and helps us get along better with others. Student success in school has been linked to arts participation and the arts encourage the creative and holistic problem-solving skills required in the 21st Century job market.
Poetry Out Loud, started in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, is a nation-wide poetry recitation competition that encourages high school students (grades 9-12) to learn about great poetry through performance. Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the State Arts Agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Writers Theatre has partnered with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to facilitate the program in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate seeks works of poetry, rap, and spoken word from New Jersey students, grades 9-12. A panel New Jersey poets choose one writer each from North, Central and South Jersey to represent their region as one of the New Jersey Youth Poet Laureates.
The three Laureates will receive the following
- A Book Deal– a collection of their poems published in an anthology by Penmanship Books
- A Governor’s Award
- A performance at two of the Regional Contests of New Jersey Poetry Out Loud
- A performance at the State Finals of New Jersey Poetry Out Loud
- Additional opportunities to perform throughout the year as ambassadors of the NJ Youth Poet Laureate Program.
A special category is included in each year’s search. At least 25 poems will be selected for an online anthology.
Writers Theatre is based in Madison, NJ (The “Rose City”), and has a number of programs designed to develop, nurture, and serve the creative lives of Madison residents. This includes the Madison Young Playwrights Program, the Madison Summer Recreation Shows, in-school student development programs, and Classroom Teacher Professional Development. We are also deeply involved in the Madison Arts and Culture Alliance, an organization committed to promoting and sustaining the arts and culture in Madison and surrounding towns. The tabs below will give you a little more information on each program.
For over 25 years, Writers Theatre has been a presence in Newark Arts Education efforts with writing residencies in schools, community-based organizations, and senior citizen programs. Our Newark Writers Festival has presents representative works from the residencies at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. And in a partnership with the Newark Board of Education and a group of committed area nonprofits, we have created programming for Project Plus, the summer school enrichment program of the Newark Schools.
The Youth-Driven Theatre program connects Writers Theatre’s New Work Development and Education Programs, with the goal of developing and presenting sophisticated work by and for, but not limited to, a younger audience. The YDT Program develops and presents new works for youth and family audiences, it commissions work from both young writers and professionals, and provides access to all of our work for young audiences through informative materials designed to respectfully elucidate the creative process.
We do a lot! Much of our work is done behind the scenes, in rehearsal rooms and classrooms all over the state. But the work needs to be tested, and this is where our community – you, our audience – comes in.
Writers have told us the WTNJ audience is one of the most sensitive and sophisticated they have ever encountered. New work needs a critical, but empathetic, eye. We look to find and nurture audiences willing to take the developmental journey with us and take an active role in the creative process.
The questions, comments, and insights you share with the playwrights help to further refine and mold the work; some of our Writers Theatre audience members have gone to see New York productions of showed developed here and found that the playwrights had made changes to the script to address points they’d brought up. This is an opportunity for you to be an important part of the art!