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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Theater, Youth Development

Mission: Using the power of performance in art to transform the lives of youth at the edge. Our work focuses on youth at the margins of our society. Our work empowers youth with creative tools - tools they will use to make themselves stronger through a carefully structured process of creating art. As they develop creative skills through challenging and difficult work, they gain new ways of seeing and coping with the world.

Results: Since programming started in 2004, PlayWrite has coached over 500 kids through the process of creating original art. Their new works of drama and music have reached audiences totaling over 7,000 people, who've been able to share their own stories of experiencing the magic that happens when a young artist is given the space and the encouragement to create something amazing.

Target demographics: We work with high-school-aged youth 'at the edge:' students in alternative living and learning communities who, for various reasons, have been unable to thrive in mainstream school settings. This ranges from high school students attending night classes, to Native American youth living in tribal communities, to young pregnant and parenting women receiving support in a secure facility. We bring our workshops to them, coaching their own inner artist to create something fantastic, and to turn everything going on in their own minds into works of art.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Each year, we reach approximately 100+/- youth directly as participants of our workshops, of which there are about 10 per year, each of which has 8-10 participants.

Geographic areas served: Currently, we serve youth living across the Portland Greater Metro area.

Programs: Our core program is a two-week writing workshop in which trained coaches work one-on-one with high-school aged students in the process of writing an original play. At the end of the two week process, professional actors perform staged readings of these two-character pieces. Graduates of our core program are also invited to part-take in a song-writing workshop, where students create lyrics for their characters and then work with professional musicians to find the right tunes. We also offer weekly drop-in writing groups for graduates of our core playwriting workshop. Students gather in a relaxed community setting to share and discuss each others' new works of drama, poetry, fiction...whatever they bring to the table that week!

Community Stories

13 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Let me tell you, the work that PlayWrite, Inc. does for this community is so very valuable. "Youth on the edge", i.e. those that are served by PW and its offerings, are bursting with creative energy, charisma and strong, unique voices. PlayWrite gives these young people a safe, playful environment wherein they can further hone their voices and points of view. Priceless, for sure. Keep up the great work, PlayWrite! Thank you.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I want to extend a kudos to the members of the PlayWrite company. My students participated in a PlayWrite workshop. Each of these students had their own story to tell, but no one had ever taken the time to dig deep in to that story. Each of the mentors worked with these students to find their voice. Several times students came to me and said this is too hard, but each onf them continued throguh the whole process. At the end they felt accomplished and heard. 8 weeks later, they are still talking about this experience and that they are happy that they did not quit. I would recommend this to any group that works with at risk youth. The students see themselves in a new light.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I recently attended a performance by students of Playwrite in Portland, OR. For me it was such an inspiring experience with stories that are so real, written from the heart of at risk students about their lives and acted out by volunteer professional actors. Inspiring yes but also heartbreaking at the same time. Bravo to all the people at Playwrite who are giving these kids an opportunity to feel valued and show them that they do have gifts to offer this world. Bravo!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The first time I saw a live PlayWrite performance, I was blown away. It's incredible what these kids write when they've been given a safe and supportive creative space to express themselves. It's like watching healing happen onstage. Beautiful, beautiful work!!

Board Member

Rating: 5

PlayWrite is a wonderful nonprofit that works one on one with kids at the edge. During a two week workshops students write a short play composed of characters that can only be inanimate objects or animals. The students then direct professional actors in their loosely autobiographical work. Seeing their work played out in front of them, students are helped to move past the issues holding them back. In many cases the creative energy tapped into to create the play open the floodgates on the river of life.

Previous Stories
7

Board Member

Rating: 5

PlayWrite provides a great opportunity for youth by giving them voice and a creative outlet to work through hardships. The coaches know how to encourage them and when to push just a little to let them tell their stories using inanimate objects and aminals. I love watching the youth introduce their work and how they react seeing it brought to life by professional actors and musicians.

10

Former staff

Rating: 5

As a coach, I can state unequivocally that this program has an effect on every writer that participates in the workshop. The result varies per student, but one consistent effect I've seen is a noted increase in self esteem and willingness to put themselves "out there" in the world. The insistence by the program that the art they produce be emotionally connected also works deeply and mysteriously with the writers. I could use phrases like "release of embedded trauma," or "a gentle yet effective catharsis" -- but these phrases are too clinical, and yet not all-encompassing enough. The writers are helped, emotionally. That's the best way to put it. Every one of them is helped emotionally when they work through one of our workshops and see their art on stage. Also, I want to say that this is some of the most challenging, exacting, and exciting work I've ever done. The skill set it takes to be a writing coach in this program is vast, and the amount of intuition and on-your-feet flexibility needed can be mind boggling. The veteran coaches at Playwrite are masters of a rare and enviable skill, make no mistake.

10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was invited to see the staged production of ten one act-plays, written by students from the Portland Night High School as they participated in a program with PlayWrite. As a teacher for thirty-six years, what I witnessed was a transforming experience for the audience, the student writers and the members of PlayWrite. The depth of emotion, the crafting of scene and word to convey feeling and understanding, the reflection of perspective, all within a coherent story line was overpowering. In extended discussions with the students and the actors after the performance, I came to understand the impact of the PlayWrite program on the growth and development of the students that had been involved. The stretch of imagination, the accumulation and assembly of vocabulary, the bond between writer and actor, all represent a powerful lifetime experience, especially for the students, which will shape and guide their future education and life. The students in the Night High have been described in various terms over the thirty-year existence of this award-winning School. The best one I know is the one that described them as “having been left for dead on the road of education.” The Night School has acquired a reputation for developing or arranging for life preserving techniques in learning. Its several year association with the folks involved with the PlayWrite Program is one of those major, life-sustaining situations. At a time when all the regular resources for public education have narrowed sharply, it is enormously important that programs like PlayWrite receive support from organizations like the one you represent. Its influence on the lives of future generations can be clearly observed.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I live in a rural area of North Central Washington state where I practice law and work with youth at the Alternative High School. A friend who is on the PlayWrite Board asked me to donate some legal services to the organization. Through this work, I learned about the amazing work (miracles really) that Bruce and his coaches and talented Portland area actors perform with youth, many of them at the fringes, in Portland. I attended the December plays and was blown away by the ability of this program to release emotional angst in a safe and supportive environment while providing an amazing experience to encourage further creativity and to foster confidence in a lost and marginalized population. As a result of the experiences I have seen with youth involved with PlayWrite in Portland, I am working with the arts council in the area where I live to try to bring Bruce and his magic to the disenfranchised rural youth where I live. Unlike therapy alone, by combining a safe exploration of life experiences and feelings with creative expression and the support of talent in the local arts community, I truly believe that this organization reaches and transforms the core of some young souls who otherwise might be lost to us and to themselves. I cannot say enough good things about the dedication of this staff and the work that they are doing.

11

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I look forward to attending each performance I can. The creativity of the shared stories is amazing and the volunteer actors are wonderful at making the characters come to life. I am impressed by the great support the kids receive and their obvious pride in being an author and a director of their own work! Speaking to my seatmate at one performance, I asked him (a teacher) if he noticed a difference in students after they had participated in PlayWrite. He emphatically said Yes!,he certainly did. This is my favorite nonprofit I wholeheartedly support.

12

Board Member

Rating: 5

PlayWrite has a transformative effect on the kids involved. To watch their faces and body language change during the performances and to hear their comments afterwards is amazing. The plays can pierce your heart with their intense emotions.