Actor’s voice found with YPT programs

September 27, 2022

Some would say who we are today is a collection of our lived experiences. We don’t always know how far just one of those experiences from youth will reach forward, but sometimes someone’s influence on us can completely change the course of our stories.

“There is a story only you can tell and now is the time to tell it,” says Aron Spellane, a DC actor and former YPT student.

Spellane credits a lot of his artistic journey to the day YPT came to his classroom. Something YPT did for him was to find ways to give himself a louder and clearer voice, something he needed at the time.

“It was at a time of my life when I really kind of needed someone to help me find my own agency in that way. And I think that that’s the greatest aspect of YPT’s mission,” Spellane said. “Empowering young people and giving young people the tools they need to find their own voice and give them a platform where they can use their voice.”

Spellane was instructed by Adrienne Nelson, former YPT In-school and After-School Programs teacher, and still fondly remembers the vitality she brought to the classroom. She was working as a professional actor by night and spent her days teaching with YPT, a care and passion for giving back to the community that Spellane had rarely seen from another teacher at the time.

“I remember being, like, floored by that. It was so extraordinary,” Spellane said. “I would just make sure she knew how wonderful that was from my perspective.”

After graduating from Jackson-Reed High School, renamed after Spellane’s time there, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in theater from a small school in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. He has now returned as an actor to DC, where he feels his art originally took life.

“It was really important for me to come back and be in this city that had really nurtured me and had given me my theatrical home,” Spellane said. “DC is my theatrical birthplace in that way.”

While he hasn’t written any more plays in the years since being a student with YPT, Spellane still considers his time with YPT as a foundation for his artistic path and career. The influence of seeing professional actors on stage and being reassured that his voice was worth being heard is the artistic spark that eventually became his fire. He is currently in the Honors Acting Conservatory at The Theater Lab and has worked as a teaching artist in several places around DC.

“That nourishes me, and even when that little critic voice inside of my head says, ‘Oh, you can’t do this. You’re on the wrong path,’ I’m like, ‘No.’” Spellane said. “People believe in me and they have believed in me and they will continue to believe in me. I do have something to say.”

In sharing his experience, Spellane emphasized his appreciation for Adrienne Nelson as a teacher and for YPT as a launchpad for his future endeavors. He says if he were to go back and tell his younger self anything it would be that the world is big and waiting for him to blow it away.

Young Playwrights’ Theater is always proud and grateful to hear and tell the stories of former students, teachers, and volunteers. If you have a story to tell, please contact our Communications Manager Cody Bahn at

Photo: Aron Spellane, DC actor and former YPT student.