Youth Underground Playwriting Fellowship

Title: Youth Underground Playwriting Fellowship

Dates: June 2021-June 2022

Schedule: Part-time, Hours vary

Reports to: Kortney Adams, Education Manager

Central Square Theater (CST), is dedicated to the exploration of social justice, science, and sexual politics through theater; catalyzing the dynamic synergies sparked by the collaboration between The Nora and Underground Railway. Through award-winning productions, the Catalyst Collaborative@ MIT Science Theater Initiative, and youth development programming – CST creates theater where points of view are heard, perspective shifts, and change can happen.

Created collaboratively 15 years ago by Underground Railway and The Nora, Central Square Theater is the oldest female-led theater organization in the Greater Boston area, under the leadership of Executive Director Catherine Carr Kelly, Artistic Director Debra Wise, and Artistic Director Lee Mikeska Gardner.  With a combined history of 50 years of work, CST engages over 35,000 people annually through live performance, rigorous youth education, and community programs. CST works closely with MIT on Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, one of the only nationwide partnerships between a world class research institute and a theater. CST is also home, fiscal sponsor, and provides mentorship, technical support, and space to The Front Porch Arts Collective (The Porch):  the only professional theater/education company of black and brown theater artists, committed to advancing racial equity in Greater Boston.

Central Square Theater is committed to equity and inclusion at all levels: on our stage, in our audience, on our staff, and within our leadership. We strongly encourage  BIPOC candidates to apply.

Youth Underground (YU) creates and performs original theater that investigates social issues relevant to young people and our world. YU uses the model of investigative theater to collect stories, share diverse perspectives with the community, and spark dialogue about important issues. YU’s summer program serves marginalized youth ages 14-19, in collaboration with Cambridge Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP). Over the course of a 6-week intensive, students work with a professional playwright and director to research, write, and perform a new play based on a social justice theme of their choice. Recent themes include the Achievement Gap, Immigration, and Voting. For Summer 2021, they have chosen to explore Youth Mental Health. The summer program culminates with a Staged Reading of the new play for the community.

During the academic year, YU comprises two ensembles: the Delegates (ages 13-18) and the Ambassadors (ages 19-25). The two ensembles collaborate to further develop, rehearse, perform, and tour the play that began in the summer. The play will receive a full production on CST’s Mainstage in spring 2022, and then tour throughout Greater Boston through Spring 2023.

Fellowship Description

Central Square Theater is accepting applications for our inaugural Youth Underground Playwriting Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed to support and mentor early-career BIPOC playwrights local to the Greater Boston area, who have a passion for working with youth and an interest in investigative theater. The YU Playwriting Fellow will be mentored by an established CST playwright. Eligible candidates must be able to work onsite, with our Youth Underground students once CST reopens (June 2021).

Duties and Responsibilities

This is currently a one-year fellowship with an opportunity to extend into a second year. Major program activities for Year 1 include:

June-August 2021 (30-40 hrs/week): 

  • Research theme and work with CST’s Education Staff to identify experts in the field and potential community partners;
  • Work with YU youth during the 6-week intensive (Jul 5 – Aug 12) to conduct individual and group interviews;
  • Write a new play based on the interviews conducted;
  • Participate in a Staged Reading of the new play, including talkbacks with community members.

September 2021-June 2022 (5-10 hrs/week):

  • Conduct additional interviews, as needed;
  • Work with YU youth to workshop and further develop the play;
  • Finalize the play for Spring 2022;
  • Support a full production of the play on CST’s Main Stage.

Stipend and Benefits

Fellowship stipend is $7000 per year. Other benefits include: free admission to CST performances, networking opportunities, access to behind-the-scenes production work, and additional mentorship opportunities in other CST departments as appropriate. CST hopes to forge a long-term working relationship with the right candidate.

Application Timeline

To apply for the CST Youth Underground Playwriting Fellowship, please submit:

  • An artistic statement (one page that summarizes why you are interested in this Fellowship and how it relates to your personal goals as an artist)
  • A resume
  • A writing sample of your choice, no longer than 10 pages (could be a 10-minute play, a scene excerpted from a full-length play, or even just one really great monologue)

Please email all materials to Education Manager Kortney Adams at by 11:59 PM on Monday, May 3. Deadline extended to 11:59 PM on Monday, May 10.

Applicants who are selected for additional consideration will be notified within 2 weeks of their application. In the Second Round, applicants will be asked to provide two references and prepare a writing sample based on a YU interview. Finalists will be invited to interview with CST staff and YU students. The CST Youth Underground Fellow will be selected by May 31.


Please contact Education Manager Kortney Adams at with any questions or needed accommodations. You can also schedule a 15-minute 1-on-1 chat with Kortney to ask your questions: