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

Nakia Greene

Amazing Alumna, August 2016

“I think I earned my spot in this place for playwrights.”

Nakia Greene never thought she’d be where she is today. As a sophomore at Columbia Heights Education Campus in 2014, she was shocked when she found out her play, Despair, was a Finalist for the New Play Festival. “I didn’t even expect it to be considered,” she said then. “That’s a really big achievement for me.”

Three years later, Nakia stands tall as a leader in our work: an example for her peers, an advocate for young voices and a multi-talented artist with a bright future ahead. She has contributed to five YPT productions, taken part in Silence Is Violence and many other events and paved the way for a new generation of YPT playwrights to make their voices heard.

“[YPT] is such a great place to come and show my artistic side ... and not to be judged for my ideas,” she says. “I can’t even put it into words: it’s just an overwhelmingly positive experience in my life that I’ll literally never forget.”

A veteran of our Young Playwrights’ Workshop, in FY16 Nakia stepped boldly into her role as a leader of the ensemble. She recruited three friends to the Workshop, and guided the young cohort through the process of writing and performing a brilliant original play. Not that she thinks this year is different from any other: “I feel like every year is a success in its own right,” she reflects. “As an ensemble, we always do our best work.”

In many ways, her time with the Workshop was like a tune-up for Nakia’s biggest artistic opportunity to date: a week at Curious Theatre Company’s Curious New Voices National Collective in Denver. Getting on a plane for the first time, flying alone to a state she’d never seen, surrounding herself with strangers and attempting to write a new play in a week, Nakia was understandably nervous—but, as always, she rose to the challenge. “I was completely blown away [by the program],” she says. “Literally everybody was super nice, super encouraging, and it was a really positive energy the entire time.”

While at Curious New Voices, Nakia took a master class with playwright Octavio Solis, who taught her a powerful lesson: “Don’t create the person, let the person come to you.” That advice freed Nakia up to let her characters tell their own story—and the play that emerged was a touching tale of an interracial gay couple facing the stresses of race relations, society and drugs. At the final reading, “there was so much clapping,” and by the end of the week, “I was almost crying at the airport because I didn’t want to leave.”

Now back in DC, Nakia has a new mission ahead: get into art school and start a career as a visual artist. Though her goals lie more on canvas than on paper, she attributes her pursuit of her passion to YPT:

“If I hadn’t had the support that YPT has given me, I’d be much more insecure about myself and my work as an artist—writing or drawing. It made me more confident and ... improved my relationship with my art a lot.

Art world, look out for Nakia Greene—she’s come so far in three years, there’s no telling where she’ll go next!