“They didn’t tell us what to do—they helped us be creative and write what we wanted to write.”
Paul McCoyer began his journey with YPT as a boy, and he will end it as a young man. The freshman at School Without Walls has been involved with our organization for nearly four years, and in that time has become an integral part of our alumni network and a proud champion of our work.
“The experience YPT gave me ... definitely improved my writing and speaking skills,” Paul said in a speech at our 20th Anniversary Festival in December, 2014. “I really wish more people could have the same experience I did.”
Paul’s first experience with YPT was in 2010, when our In-School Playwriting Program came to his fifth grade classroom at Bancroft Elementary School. Working with Teaching Artist Tim Pabon, Paul wrote a hilarious and deeply insightful satire of capitalism, which he called Money, Money, Money. We produced the play in our 2011 New Play Festival, giving Paul his first experience of seeing his words realized onstage.
“My play was ... truly amazing and something to be proud of,” he recalls.
After the Festival, we offered Paul the chance to apply for our Student Advisory Council. “I decided to apply because I loved what YPT set out to do, and I wanted to stay connected with them,” he says. He joined shortly thereafter, and has been a dedicated representative of the students we serve ever since.
In 2014, Paul and the rest of the Council wrote and performed an original play called Dear Mr. Stein, which challenged negative perceptions of Millennials and offered their own views of a changing world. Paul’s two scenes investigated the line teenagers walk between being children and being adults, and reminded us all of an important fact:
“If [teenagers can] make it through, we have a right to be proud of ourselves.”
The Council's 2015 original play, Stage Fright, explores the subject of fear through the group's signature vignette style. Ever innovative in their efforts to raise funds for YPT's programming, the Council has written one of its scenes in Choose Your Own Adventure style, and will auction off the play's ending to those who pledge the most money to support our work!
After high school, Paul hopes to couple his love of fiction writing with his passion for music—either as a teacher, “an author or a story artist for movies or video games.” We are so proud to have accomplished young people like Paul speak out on behalf of the students we serve, and can't wait to see where his life takes him next!
See Paul and the rest of the Student Advisory Council in Stage Fright:
Wednesday, May 6 at 7pm at Busboys and Poets!