Young Playwrights' Theater inspires young
people to realize the power of their own voices.



Staff

Brigitte Winter
Executive Director

bwinter@yptdc.org

Brigitte Winter has a decade of experience in nonprofit management, arts administration, fundraising and strategic communications in the DC region. Prior to joining YPT, Brigitte worked as a Legislative Director in Annapolis, and served as the Artistic Director of The Unmentionable Theatre, a Baltimore-based company dedicated to producing new plays with social and political weight. Brigitte holds a BFA in Theatre from UMBC, summa cum laude, a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University and a Masters in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. She continues to work with the Georgetown Center for Social Impact Communication as an Advisor for Georgetown’s Public Relations and Corporate Communications Capstone course, mentoring cohorts of graduate students as they develop strategic communications plans for clients throughout the world. Brigitte is the proud recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award from the UMBC Alumni Association, the 2013 Outstanding Student Award from Georgetown University and the 2012 Georgetown Social Impact Award for her commitment to creating positive social change as a communicator. Brigitte’s short fiction is featured in Columbia Writers’ 2014 Trapped Tales anthology and a collection of fantastical stories set in Portland, Oregon scheduled for release by Forest Avenue Press in the fall of 2016. Her micro fiction has been published in 101FictionNail Polish Stories, and Alban Lake Publishing’s November 2014 Drabble Harvest journal, Tourism on Other Worlds. In her spare time, she reads and writes obsessively and bakes a lot of cakes. All of her celebrity crushes are on authors.

Karen Zacarías
Founding Artistic Director

In the 2007-2008 season, Karen had three world premieres: The Book Club Play at Round House Theater (also selected for the 2007 Eugene O’Neill conference and developed with PWC), Chasing George Washington: A White House Adventure at the Kennedy Center, and Looking for Roberto Clemente at Imagination Stage (with music by Debbie Wicks La Puma). Karen is the winner of the 2006 Francesca Primus Award for her play, Mariela in the Desert (World Premiere at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago). Mariela is also the winner the 2005 TCG/AT&T First Stages Award, the 2004 National Latino Playwrights’ Competition, finalist for the 2004 Susan Smith Blackburn prize, and short listed for 2005 Kesselring Prize. Her play, The Sins of Sor Juana won Outstanding New Play at the 2000 Helen Hayes Awards and has been produced throughout the country. Her musical plays for young people have enjoyed productions at The Goodman Theater, The Coterie, Chicago PlayWorks, The Alliance Theatre, Imagination Stage, Arden Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, and St. Louis Rep. The plays include Einstein is a Dummy (world Premiere at the Alliance Theatre), a flamenco version of FERDINAND: THE BULL, the mariachi-inspired The Magical Piñata, and salsa/hip-hop Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans:A Salsa Musical. Currently, Karen is working on commissions from Arena Stage (Emilie and Voltaire...Were Here), Round House Theater (an adaptation of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents), the Kennedy Center, and South Coast Repertory. Karen Z lives in D.C. with her husband Rett, and children Nico, Kati, and baby Maia.

Farah Harris
Artistic Director

fharris@yptdc.org

Farah Harris is an actress, director, poet and proud recipient of a 2015 Artist Fellowship Program grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Prior to joining YPT, Farah worked as a Grants Specialist on a government contract, as well as a Development Manager for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Capital Chapter. She holds three Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Maryland-College Park in Theatre Performance, Criminology & Criminal Justice, and African American Studies and graduated with High Honors. Farah was a Founding Member of the Washington, DC-based theatre company, The Saartjie Project and has performed (under the name Farah Lawal) with various companies including dog & pony dc, The Source Festival, 500 Clown and the Inkwell. She performed her one-woman show, So Do You Love Me Yet? in the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival and continues to devise theatre based on the black woman's experience with her company, Wild Women Theatre. For more information, please visit www.farahlawal.com.

Frank Cervarich
Deputy Director

fcervarich@yptdc.org

Frank is an arts administrator with experience in development, communications and office management, as well as an actor, puppeteer, improviser, playwright and teacher. From 2011 to 2012, he served in a kindergarten classroom at Malcolm X Elementary School in Southeast DC through City Year, an AmeriCorps program, providing mentorship and tutoring to his students. After completing City Year, he served as a Research/Program Associate at the Migrant Legal Action Program. He is a founding member of Pointless Theatre, and currently serves as Pointless’ co-Director of Communications. He has written two plays (The Solar System Show and Imagination Meltdown Adventure) that have been produced, and has toured DC with The Solar System Show. Imagination Meltdown Adventure won the Director’s Pick of the Fringe Award in 2012. He has performed at the National Theater, Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, the Mansion at Strathmore, The Puppet Co., the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, The Writer’s Center, GALA Hispanic Theatre and in the Capital Fringe Festival. He is a graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park with a BA in English and Theater. 

Jessica Wisser
Development Director

jwisser@yptdc.org

Prior to joining YPT, Jessica was employed as Executive Director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in Alexandria, VA. In her time as the administrative leader of the ASO, Wisser oversaw the organization’s launch of Northern Virginia’s first El Sistema-inspired music education program, ASO Sympatico, as well as the organization’s celebratory performance of the 100th Anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with a one-night only performance at the National Gallery of Art Modern Art Wing, featuring new choreography and performance by Bowen McCauley Dance.

Previously, Wisser worked as General Manager at Cantata Singers, a choral organization in Boston, Massachusetts that administered Classroom Cantatas, a residency program in a diverse spread of Boston Public Schools where students create their own musical compositions based in curricular guidelines. Wisser also completed an administrative internship with the Wolf Trap Opera Company in Vienna, Virginia.

Jessica graduated with a B.A. from Duke University, focusing on a double major in Music and Public Policy. While at Duke, Jessica sang with the Duke University Chorale as well as with Duke University’s oldest all-female a cappella group, Duke Out of the Blue. An arts lover from a young age, Jessica began her music career as a pianist, debuted on the local musical theater stage as Fish #2 in The Little Mermaid, and studied voice and music theory during high school at the Fine Arts Center in her hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. Jessica currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband, Evan, her daughter, Claire, and her dog, Jefferson.

 

Jared Shamberger
Program Director

jshamberger@yptdc.org

 

Jared is a DC-based playwright/director/actor. In 2014, he wrote and performed his first one man show, 12, featuring several solo pieces he created as a founding member of Brave Soul Collective. Jared is most proud of his work in HIV prevention, including his travels throughout the country using theater to educate students on the importance of sexual health and responsibility. He considers himself an "artivist," combining his artistic sensibilities and his activist spirit.

 

 

 

Claudia Rosales Waters
Program Associate

Claudia Rosales Waters has been a teaching artist for ten years, getting to explore learning through the arts in classrooms across Atlanta, New York and Washington D.C. She achieved her Master of Fine Arts in Performance degree from the University of Maryland in 2013. Claudia is an accomplished playwright and performer, specializing in physical theatre, devising new works and stage combat. Recently, Waters has been working with Romanian school Transylvania College, consulting on a mindfulness guidebook for teachers. She is exploring teaching mindfulness through theater, as well as developing training for teachers and schools hoping to bring the practice into their community. 

Teshonne Powell
Communications Associate

tpowell@yptdc.org

Hailing from Providence, RI by way of Atlanta, GA, Teshonne has always indulged her love for the performing arts. As a graduate of Duke University, she went on to work with youth through Teach For America and Festival Ballet Providence and has been a proud supporter and participant in community-oriented theatre through her time with Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket, RI. Since obtaining her Master of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Howard University, Teshonne has cultivated her love for DC arts while working with Atlas Performance Arts Center on H Street NE. She has also worked with FRESHH Theatre Inc. as an actor, and as the coordinator for its out-of-school-time arts education program, Griot Girls. She enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction, performing in the arts, and supporting her friends--all wonderful and talented members of the DC arts community.

 
Laura Wood
Development Associate

lwood@yptdc.org

Laura Wood has worked at YPT since the summer of 2012, as an intern, fellow, and now the Community Engagement Associate. She also works as an Assistant House Manager at Lisner Auditorium and a freelance stage manager. Previously, she interned at Yabonga, an HIV/AIDS outreach organization in Cape Town, South Africa, and in the Special Events department of the Washington National Opera. She was also a 2013 Young People For fellow with the People for the American Way Foundation.  Laura majored in Human Services with minors in Theater and Psychology, and served on the board of her student theater company for three years. She graduated with Special Honors in 2013 from George Washington University, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. 

Ashley Thweatt
Production Assistant
 
Ashley M. Thweatt began her journey through theater as a young girl on center stage, to a young woman on a headset. First standing in front of her congregation portraying civic leaders, then progressing to sewing seams between scenes at Magruder High School, her love of theater involves all of its parts and pieces. Graduating from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University with a B.S. in Architectural Engineering, she brings an analytical mind to the creative process. After a short stint in engineering, she shifted her focus, positioning her to become a venue tech at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater in Rockville MD since 2016. She has worked with the Washington Revels, providing a community folklore experience during the winter holiday season. She joined YPT as a Stage Manager for Crossing the Street: SW Is..., Silence is Violence: What Now?, The Ballou Story Project, and Young Playwrights' Workshop: Then & Now 2017. Having spent the last three years in the DC theater scene as a Stage Manager, stagehand, costumiere and scenic artist, she joins the Young Playwrights' Theater as the Production Assistant hoping to continue her life’s purpose: to bring joy through art. In her personal time, Ashley enjoys long hours in the fabric store or behind her sewing machine making quilts for charity, theatrical costumes and personal decor. When given the option of an interesting conversation or a good book, she attends RSG Book Club where they do both! Ashley aspires to keep learning and growing as a unique individual, ready for the next challenge.
Monica Johnson
Administrative Assistant
Monica Johnson is a graduate from Howard University with a B.A in Spanish and a current student at George Washington University. She has been studying Spanish since middle school and has studied abroad three times. Prior to joining YPT, Monica has worked in academic settings as a Spanish Tutor/Teacher Assistant at the Middle School of Mathematics and Science in Washington D.C and as an English Tutor at a grade school in Salamanca, Spain. In addition, she interned at The National Society for Collegiate Scholars, a non-profit organization. Monica enjoys going to art museums, music festivals and food festivals during her spare time. She played the bassoon for four years and was selected to play second chair in the 2010 Cobb County GMEA Band Performance.