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

Marisa Poe

Promising Playwright, February 2016

“When I wrote about it, then I finally realized what it would be like.”

Marisa Poe stands fast for equality. Thoughtful and eloquent, the Maret School sixth grader speaks passionately and knowledgeably about the issues she holds most dear: gender equality and equal pay for equal work.

“I look at men and women and I know they’re equal, but … they’re not treated equally,” Marisa says. An avid basketball player who wants to someday play in the WNBA, she became interested at a young age in the difference between NBA and WNBA salaries. When Marisa found out that the average WNBA player makes around $75,000 per year and the average NBA player makes close to $5 million, “I was just appalled that the difference was that great,” she says.

So Marisa set out to make a difference. She talked to her peers about the income gap, encouraged her female friends to follow the WNBA and sought out opportunities to explore the issue further. When YPT integrated playwriting into her fifth-grade Constitution curriculum, then, she knew just what to write: The Basketball Duel, a play about the WNBA and women’s rights, based on the Nineteenth Amendment.

The Basketball Duel tells the story of Kate Glader, a WNBA star who is sick of making so much less than her male counterparts. When her money-grubbing General Manager refuses to raise her and her teammate’s salaries to the NBA average, Kate challenges him to a game of one-on-one for all the marbles. Who prevails? You’ll have to find out on April 25 at the Logan Fringe Arts Space, when The Basketball Duel comes to life on Night Three of the 2016 New Play Festival!

For now, Marisa is basking in the joy of being a produced playwright. “I’ve never had any writing accomplishments before…I didn’t know I was actually even a little bit good at it until now,” she says. But now that she knows, maybe it’s something I want to do when I grow up.

We certainly hope she does—the world could use more people like Marisa! Thank you for standing up for equality both on and off the court!