The MCC Theater Youth Company is a free, after-school program for New York City high school students interested in developing their acting and dramatic writing skills. Within a creative, challenging, and supportive environment, teenagers from five boroughs participate in weekly workshops (Labs) led by professional theater artists.

Our students are encouraged to discover and explore their unique artistic voices as they work together to create and perform original work. Authenticity, originality, energy, honesty, enthusiasm… all of their experiences are essential to the process. Through collaboration, YC members form a supportive ensemble of young artists in an inspiring environment where they are free to experiment, make bold choices, and take risks.

The Youth Company is split into four distinct groups: the Performance Lab, the Playwriting Lab, the Brooklyn Youth Company, and the Ambassadors. Performance Lab students meet every week with professional co-directors JEN SHIRLEY and KEVIN CARILLO to develop skills in voice, movement, monologue and dialogue. The year culminates with the annual spring production of UnCensored. Playwriting Lab students meet every week with professional playwrights JUAN RAMIREZ JR and ALEXANDER LAMBIE to develop skills in dramatic writing. In the spring, students write individual short plays, the best of which are produced by professional actors and directors in July during The FreshPlay Festival. The Brooklyn Youth Company is our satellite youth company that meets every week, with a similar format to Performance Lab, within an eleven-week time frame in the fall, that culminates with an annual December production of BKYC UnCensored. The Ambassadors meet weekly with Manager of Education Programs, DEE HUGHES, to learn about how a theater runs through conversations with MCC Staff members, other theater companies, and artists involved with mainstage productions. Ambassadors assist as producers for UnCensored, On the Fly and FreshPlay.

Veteran Youth Company members also have the opportunity to work with distinguished professionals in master classes throughout the summer, in which the highest tier of theater experts impart their wisdom, experience, and skills upon our YC members. Past master class leaders have included PLAYWRIGHT and ACTOR JOCELYN BIOH (School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, Nollywood Dreams), SCENIC DESIGNER RACHEL HAUCK (Hadestown, All the Ways to Say I Love You), DIRECTOR MORITZ VON STUELPNAGEL (Present Laughter, Hand to God).

CARD-Uncensored-2016 Play video

Youth Company Programs

The Performance Lab
Led by DIRECTOR JEN SHIRLEY, Youth Company actors develop their performance skills through weekly workshops in improvisation, scene-study, movement, and voice. Actors also participate in writing workshops, which result in the development of original works that are performed by the ensemble, including the annual spring production UNCENSORED.


The Playwriting Lab
Playwriting Lab members develop original scripts in weekly workshops. Under the tutelage of professional PLAYWRIGHTJUAN RAMIREZ JR., young writers learn about monologue, dialogue, setting, conflict, and character. Playwriting Lab members are pushed to expand their definition of what “theatrical” means. Each month, one or more short plays enjoy public readings with professional actors. After hearing and seeing their works-in-progress on stage, writers develop their scripts, using the same process employed by professional playwrights. Playwrights’ scripts come to vibrant life in the FreshPlay Festival every July/August.

The Youth Company Ambassadors
The Ambassador program brings a small group of YC members together to be introduced to the full range of skills, techniques and ideas which are essential to professional theater. Ambassadors meet regularly with theater administrators, actors, directors and designers, and will in turn act as advocates for MCC Theater and arts education. Ambassadors become active producers for UnCensored and The FreshPlay Festival. For more information, email dhughes@mcctheater.org

The Brooklyn Youth Company
The BKYC is our satellite youth company located in East Flatbush, based on our Performance Lab model. This ensemble of students grades 9-12 from High School for Public Service meet weekly from October-December to explore their artistic voices and the tools they need to theatricalize their words, under the direction of VICKIE TANNER. Like the other branches of the YC, the BKYC perform in their own UnCensored production and participate in master classes and theater visits. In the spring, members of the BKYC are invited to join the BKYC T.O. Troupe to explore issues in their community through theater, utilizing techniques from Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed.

How to Join

The MCC Theater Youth Company seeks dedicated, enthusiastic and responsible young people for its Performance and Playwrighting Labs. Company members may be a part of one or both Labs.

The 2022-2023 Youth Company Auditions will be held on October 20th and 21st from 4:30PM-6:30PM. All students must attend BOTH audition dates to be eligible to join.

To sign up fill out the 2023-2024 Youth Company Auditions Registration Form here. The deadline to register is Wednesday, October 11th at 11:59pm.

MCC Youth Company Staff will update all applicants in the event the audition must be held virtually. The weekly classes will begin online and may transition to in-person for vaccinated students at the end of the year. A hybrid-format will be made possible for students who chose to continue remote learning


  • Between the ages of 14-19 and live in New York City
  • Currently enrolled public high school students when they join the company
  • Have a strong interest in participating in the dramatic arts
  • Open-minded and willing to take risks
  • Committed to consistent attendance at workshops and rehearsals
  • Accepted into the company based on effort, not previous theater experience
  • No preparation is required


Please call MCC Theater’s Director of Public Engagement and Education at (212) 727-7722 ext. 222, with further questions about the company.

To receive updates about the Youth Company, send an email to education@mcctheater.org asking to be added to the Youth Company Mailing List.



BKYC UnCensored

Our satellite youth company kicks off our season with their evening of monologues, scenes, dance and music, all written and created by the Brooklyn Youth Company over the course of eleven weeks. This year’s theme will explore the power of a passport- to your mind, to the world, to freedom. For more info email education@mcctheater.org



An exhilarating evening of student-written monologues, scenes, music, and ensemble pieces, UnCensored is a celebration of the work developed by our Acting Lab over the year. Our young artists write, develop, rehearse and perform their original show for multiple performances at an Off-Broadway theater every spring. For more info email education@mcctheater.org


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