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Speak Up, Act Out:

Celebrating Student Voices

A creative writing program amplifying student voices!

During the 2023-24 school year, New Victory is partnering with The 24 Hour Plays for Speak Up, Act Out: Celebrating Student Voices. This exciting dramatic writing program for New York City middle and high school students will culminate in a live performance at the New Victory Theater in May 2024, featuring professional actors.

The performing arts play a vital role in young people’s lives, especially in times of great conflict and social unrest. New Victory’s Speak Up, Act Out program centers student voice, agency, creativity and activism. 

Launching in fall 2023, Partner Teachers of students in Grades 5-12 are invited to participate in a five-session residency, led by a team of New Victory Teaching Artists and customized for each classroom to meet every student’s needs. This residency experience will activate the following pillars:

  • Discover the views and achievements of artist activists from yesterday and today
  • Explore dynamic ways of becoming young activists through the arts
  • Inspire students to channel their authentic voice
  • Create supportive space for student agency through creative writing
  • Celebrate the artistic work that can be created when student voices are centered

Speak Up, Act Out: Inspired by The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative

Interested in participating in the Speak Up, Act Out residency?

In January 2024, applications will be accepted for a chance to be selected for the Speak Up, Act Out: Celebrating Student Voices showcase scheduled for May 2024. Applications* are open for any student across NYC, however, the hundreds of students who participate in the residency program will be specifically primed and encouraged to apply. 

Once selected, six creative writers will work directly with industry professionals and be mentored by professional playwrights to learn the ins and outs of what it means to write for a live theatrical performance and further build skills. True to The 24 Hour Plays model, these students will then collaborate with an ensemble of creative professionals. They will:

  • write an original piece of work 24 hours before the showcase 
  • collaborate with a director to get the piece staged
  • rehearse and refine the piece for the ensemble to get it ready for a live audience!  

*All students ages 11 and up are invited to submit an application. Students do not have to have a Speak Up, Act Out residency to apply.



Portrait of Lorraine Hansberry with text that reads, writer, activist, revolutionary.

Lorraine Hansberry as Inspiration

As part of the partnership with the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative created by The Lillys, New Victory Education developed a set of education resources and curriculum providing context on Lorraine Hansberry’s creative and dramatic writing, journalism and activism, as well as tip sheets and activities to encourage creative writing. These resources are available to download for free for individual use.

Access education materials

About the 2023-24 Project Partners

New Victory

Powered by New 42, New Victory opens new worlds for young people and families through extraordinary performances, engagement and education programs. Every year, New Victory provides more kids with more live performing arts in more grades than any other arts organization in the city.

The 24 Hour Plays®

The 24 Hour Plays bring together creative communities to produce plays and musicals that are written, rehearsed, and performed in 24 hours. Our radically-present approach to theatermaking responds immediately to the world around us, builds communities, and generates new artistic partnerships.