The Why of YPPC,
If you are reading this then you are one of the hundreds of young actors and parents who are in the diverse and extended family of Young People’s Performing Company. As part of that family you probably know who I am, as you are part of my family too. My name is Brennan Stephens and I am the son of Jeffryn Stephens, the founder and Director of YPPC. I am now on the board and have been involved with YPPC in some form since it was founded over 35 years ago. I admit I didn’t have a great deal of choice in the matter at first, but my years with this organization, the friends I made there and the dozens of performances I have attended are some of my happiest memories.
Like many non-profits we have struggled over the years with funding and every year we reach out to you, our alumni and parents, to help us keep the lights on. That’s not a figure of speech. This year we literally need to replace the lights. I know you get a lot of requests from very worthwhile causes asking for support, so I wanted to state clearly why YPPC is still relevant and necessary.
There are many great opportunities in the triangle for young people to be onstage, but YPPC remains unique for me in its inclusiveness. Public schools in Durham offer some amazing drama programs but they are only for students in those schools and even then, can seem impenetrable to less outgoing students. Faith-based theater groups have similar challenges. Private theater camps offer a more open-door policy, but they are often prohibitively expensive. Kids from smaller schools, charter schools, home schools or who just don’t feel empowered to audition with little to no experience don’t have a lot of options.
Over the years I have met many young people who came through our tiny space that might never have been onstage otherwise. Most of them will never be onstage again, and that’s fine. While a few graduates of YPPC have gone on to pursue a career in theater, most do not. YPPC isn’t a training ground for tomorrow’s stars and it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a safe space where any child can have a personal experience with everything from American folk tales to William Shakespeare and Arthur Miller. It’s a place where a shy person can gain a voice and a sheltered person can gain experience. It’s a place where someone who has never been on stage before can perform in “You Can’t Take it With You” in six weeks and be applauded in doing so.
YPPC has given this experience to me as a student and a parent. I hope it can continue to give that experience to kids and parents for years to come. I love this place and I hope you love it too.
Please consider how your donation will both honor the past and ensure a future. It’s easy! Just go to our website, http://www.yppc.us/ where we have a Network For Good link, or write a check payable to YPPC and send it to Young People’s Performing Company; Attn: Jeffryn Stephens; 120 Morris Street, Durham Arts Council Building, Durham, NC 27701.