What to do when you achieve a dream job before 30? Brigitte Pribnow Moore ’05, theatre, says you should expand the scope and ambition of that dream. Moore is the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), a group that fosters arts education in area schools via playwriting and allows highschool writers to collaborate with professional theatre makers to see their own work on the stage.
The 2013 recipient of the UMBC Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award in the Visual and Performing Arts has big plans. Over the next three years, Moore aims to expand her organization to an even larger portion of greater Washington and increase its budget to $1 million. And her early successes – including YPT being named as the 2014 winner of The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management – have already earned her the status of a rising arts management leader.
Moore says UMBC gave her a great start. She arrived at UMBC from her small hometown in Connecticut helped by a University Fellow scholarship. “UMBC’s acting program was amazing: It was kind of conservatory-like in its style but also allowed us to explore other liberal arts,” she says.
One area that Moore explored was political science. She volunteered in campaigns during the 2004 election cycle, and wrote and edited a weekly newsletter for Progressive Maryland – a statewide advocacy organization. The academic freedom to push beyond theatre not only allowed Moore to “learn about the world through a different lens,” but it also led her to Annapolis after graduation to work as legislative director for two Maryland state delegates.
Yet despite her passion for social justice and politics, Moore devoted considerable time to exploring the theatre world as a freelance director and the artistic director of The Unmentionable Theatre – a company dedicated to producing new plays with social and political themes.
Then, in 2006, an ad for a job at Young Playwrights Theater caught Moore’s attention. Although she had never heard of the group before answering the ad, YPT seemed a perfect opportunity to fulfill her desire to make a significant social impact through theatre. As YPT’s vision statement notes, it “seeks to create social justice by providing all young people with the opportunity to realize the power and value of their own voices.”
YPT was just over a decade old in 2006. As a small nonprofit, its four-person staff wore many hats. “It was a period of rapid transition and growth for YPT,” says Moore. “On any given day, I would go from producing a play to making copies to writing a grant proposal.” One of the things she valued most was that “everyone who works at YPT is also an artist,” a situation that she says allowed the playwrights and professional actors employed there to “bring their craft to their work.”
As YPT grew in size and ambition, Moore found it necessary to cultivate and increase her own knowledge and skill set. As YPT’s development director, she enrolled in Georgetown University’s Nonprofit Management Certificate program in 2008, and then continued her studies there from 2010 to 2012, eventually earning a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown.
That advanced training and the hard work she’d already put into the theatre paid off when the executive director position at YPT opened up in 2012. And Moore has pursued a number of partnerships across the country, helped along in late 2012 by the publication of a book that sums up the theatre’s work and mission: Write to Dream: A Collection of Plays by the Students of Young Playwrights’ Theater And the Tools to Turn Anyone into a Young Playwright.
Moore may have found her dream job, but she did so by being true to her desire to use art for social change. “Am I being true to that?” is a question that Moore says she continues to ask herself as YPT expands to reach a greater number of students locally and nationally.
— Sara Barker
Learn more about Young Playwrights’ Theater at http://youngplaywrightstheater.org/.