Writers Theatre Education Programs

WT-NJWritersProject CActsA-Logo130-K  POL2016_color  WT-NJYoungPlaywrightsFestival NJ Youth Poet Laureate logo WT-CompleteAccessInitiativeWT-RoseCityInitiative WT-BrickCityInitiative WT-YouthDrivenTheatre

WTNJ Education ProgramsProgram OverviewNew Jersey Writers Project (NJWP)Creative Acts Academy (CAA) Poetry Out Loud (POL)The New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival (NJYPF)New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate (NJYPL)Rose City Initiative (RCI-Madison)Brick City Initiative (BCI-Newark)Youth-Driven TheatreAudience Development 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.

WT-NJWritersProjectThe 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.

CActsA-Logo130-KThe 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.

POL2016_colorNew 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.

WT-NJYoungPlaywrightsFestivalThe 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.

NJ Youth Poet Laureate logoThe 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.

WT-RoseCityInitiativeThe 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.

WT-BrickCityInitiativeBrick 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.

WT-YouthDrivenTheatreYouth-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.

WT-NJWritersProject
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.

Basic Residencies

“I used to think that my stories weren’t good. I used to not want to read my stories, but I learned to write stories with meaning, and now I feel more confident.”
– 5th Grade Student, Dennis O’Brien Elementary School

Each year, the New Jersey Writers Project (NJWP) engages over 15,000 students in grades K-12 through literary and performing arts residencies. Led by our seasoned teaching artists, students and teachers use the power of imagination in writing, presenting, and responding to each other’s work. The benefits of this creative process include a deeper comprehension of content, informed critical thinking, and problem-solving, among others.

Language-in-Motion Residencies
Staged readings of student writing celebrate their hard work. Watch your students’ faces light up when they see professional actors perform their plays, stories and/or poems and make them come to life right before their eyes.
Enrichment Programs
In-school and after-school programs bring learning to life in creative writing and performing arts workshops designed to meet the goals and budgets of a school or site. Enrichment programs can be designed to combine different disciplines, be based on specific themes, or used to further explore science and humanities curricula.
Complete Access Initiatives

Complete Access Initiatives provide residencies to seniors, incarcerated youth and the disabled. Along with residencies tailored to the specific needs of the group, we also host the Living with Disabilities category of the New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest, which accepts plays, grades 6-12 on themes of physical, developmental, and psychological disabilities.

Professional Development
Writers Theatre is approved by the NJ Department of Education to provide Professional Development Credits. Our Programs include hands-on workshops where teachers can grow more comfortable with, skillful in, and knowledgeable about playwriting, poetry, prose, or creative writing in general.
Residency Application
Please click here to apply for a Writers Project Residencies.

Creative Acts Academy

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.

Classes for Kids and Teens
The New Jersey Young Playwrights Program provides an opportunity for students in all school environments, grades 4-12, to write plays and receive written response to their work from professional theatre artists. The Festival selects representative plays for presentation as staged readings with professional actors and directors. Prior to the readings, the selected playwrights meet with their director/dramaturg to discuss the play and work on revisions. These plays are presented during the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival, a partnership between Writers Theatre and Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Classes for Adults

We offer a number of classes for adults, including playwriting, acting, poetry and screenwriting.  For our playwriting students, we hold an annual showcase of selected works from the class presented as a concert reading with professional actors.

POL2016_color
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.
POL Contest

Poetry Out Loud begins with classroom and/or school-wide competitions. Each school sends a student to one of six regional contests, and 12 students are selected to participate in the state final. From that, one student is chosen to represent New Jersey in the National Poetry Out Loud Contest, held in Washington, DC. The contest is open to all New Jersey students, Grades 9-12 (or the equivalent). Students in public, private, religious, vocational, and home schools are welcome to participate.

POL Residencies/Application

Residencies with professional poet/performers are available. Content and length are flexible, and can be designed to fit a schools’ learning objectives and schedules.

WT-NJYoungPlaywrightsFestivalThe New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival provides an opportunity for students in all school environments, grades 4-12, to write plays and receive written response to their work from professional theatre artists. The New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest selects representative plays and presents them as staged readings with professional actors and directors. Prior to the readings, the selected playwrights meet with their director/dramaturg to discuss the play and work on possible revisions. Winning plays are presented during the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival, a partnership between Writers Theatre and Premiere Stages at Kean University.

Click here to learn more about the New Jersey Young Playwrights Program.

NJ Youth Poet Laureate logoThe 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.

 

 

WT-RoseCityInitiativeWriters 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.

Madison Young Playwrights Program

For over 30 years, Writers Theatre has been teaching playwriting in an after school program in all three Madison Elementary Schools, the Madison Junior School, and St. Vincent Martyr School. This ten-week program (beginning in the Fall) brings professional theatre artists to the schools with the goal of each student creating a short play. Representative plays from each school are toured to each school in a staged reading with professional actors, and all plays are submitted to the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival.

Madison Classroom Enrichment

With curriculum leaders and teachers in the Madison Public Schools, Writers Theatre has been designing programs and lessons for the school-day curriculum. Delivered by professional writers and theatre artists, these flexible programs are intended to work closely with classroom and grade-group learning objectives. They range from classes on writing in multiple genres, to performance-based projects designed to assist actors’ performance in the school play, to programs to assist students in preparation for their Poetry Out Loud in-school competition.

Madison Schools Professional Development

With curriculum leaders and teachers in the Madison Public Schools, Writers Theatre has designed and presented professional development units for classroom teachers in playwriting, prose, and poetry.

Madison Summer Recreation Plays

For the past five years, Writers Theatre has partnered with the Borough of Madison Department of Recreation to present two plays for students residing in the Madison area. One play includes students in High School and above, the other for students Middle School age.

Starting in 2016, Writers Theatre is bringing this program together with its New Work Development Program and Youth Driven Theatre Program to commission age-appropriate works from New Jersey playwrights. The plays will be entertaining evenings of family theatre, but they will also be designed to build the performance skills of the participants.

Local University Connections

Writers Theatre has formed partnerships with Fairleigh Dickinson University and Drew University designed to involve students in both the artistic and administrative functions of the organization.  Students from both universities intern in artistic and administrative capacities, as part of their classes, work study, or standard internships.

Writers Theatre partners with the Drew University Theatre Department on a Senior Capstone Project, which commissions a professional playwright to work with the students on the creation of a play that will be performed by the students as part of their senior thesis project.

Madison Arts and Culture Alliance

MACA Logo_RGB_PCThe Madison Arts and Culture Alliance is a nonprofit service organization that promotes Madison-area artists, arts/cultural organizations and art-related businesses. MACA also organizes the annual Madison Holiday Arts Festival on the day after Thanksgiving, books all of the music events for Madison’s Bottle Hill Day, presents the annual Black Maria Film Festival, and co-sponsors the Madison Sidewalk Gallery.

Writers Theatre plays a significant role in the operation of MACA, hosting its administrative offices and overseeing many of its administrative functions.

The Madison Arts and Culture Alliance website.

WT-BrickCityInitiativeFor 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.

Newark Writers Project-- Residencies

Writers Theatre sponsors 15-20 residencies in poetry, prose, and playwriting annually in Newark Schools and community-based organizations. Professional writers create flexible hands-on writing and performance programs to match the needs of the school and classrooms.  At the end of the process professional actors are brought in to present staged readings of selected work.

Senior Citizens Program

We work annually with three to five centers in Newark facilitating a program that pairs professional writers with seniors to create memoirs and works of poetry. Professional actors perform selected works along with the residents at the end of the sessions.

Summer School Programs

Newark Project Plus is an innovative summer-school program that pairs academic work with arts programming. For the past four years, Writers Theatre has created flexible writing and performance programs to fit the individual needs of the sites hosting the project.

Newark Writers Festival

The Newark Writers Festival, presented at NJPAC, presents selected writings from Newark residencies. These rehearse staged readings include professional Newark-based actors and Newark-based musicians.

Newark 350

As part of Newark’s 350-year celebration, Writers Theatre will be presenting readings from residents of the Newark Senior Centers. These first-hand memories will bring their grass root experiences of Newark’s past to life in a very tangible way.

Program Application

WT-YouthDrivenTheatre

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.

Play Development Program

As part of our Soundings Reading Series we annually present readings of one or two new works for youth and family audiences. These works may later be developed into full productions or school tours.

In a partnership with the Drew University Theatre Department, we commission works from professional writers for the Senior Capstone Project, which is presented in April on the campus of Drew University.

Additionally, we commission works from previous winners of the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival, as well as our professional writer community to present as part of our Rose City Initiative Summer Play Program.

School Tours

Writers Theatre tours new work to schools and community-based organizations. Our most recent tour of Henry’s Law by New Jersey Writer (and fourth-round participant in the NJ Women Playwrights Program) Stacie Lents dealt with the repercussions of in-school bullying. We partnered with the Liberty Science Center on a two-year tour of Hot Air, a smoking awareness play.

Plays from the Madison Young Playwrights Program tour the local schools on an annual basis.

Student Matinees and Study Guides

For all of our productions, we schedule 1-2 student matinees and provide on-line study guides to students and teachers.

Internship Programs

Writers Theatre sponsors a number of internship opportunities in our new work development and education programs, as well as in the administrative office. Work study jobs are available as well.

Click here for more information on Internships and Work Study Opportunities.

We see the audience as an intrinsic element of our artistic and educational mission. Our Audience Development Programs provide opportunities for audiences to be a real part of the work at Writers Theatre.

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!