Join us for the third annual Youth Underground Festival, a three-day comprised of performances, poetry, community conversations, and installations!

We gather at Central Square Theater with community members, youth performers, and partner organizations to amplify voices and uplift stories of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Youth Underground at Central Square Theater

“I do think that the fact that it’s a students driven play is really good and the fact that the students get to decide what it’s about is important. As well as the students writing the play itself is crucial to the students actually being engaged.” – Kale p, YU

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 the Cambridge Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP). Throughout 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 chosen by the youth. Recent themes include Immigration, Voting, and 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 is now receiving a full production on CST’s Mainstage, and then potentially tour throughout Greater Boston.

Central Square Theater

Central Square Theater (CST) explores social justice, science and gender politics through theater. Combining artistic excellence, cross disciplinary collaboration and community engagement, CST creates theater where points of view are heard, perspective shifts, and change can happen.

Central Square Theater, the oldest female-led theater organization in Greater Boston, is now one organization upholding the values and theatrical excellence of its origin companies, Underground Railway Theater and The Nora. Under the leadership of Executive Director Catherine Carr Kelly, Artistic Director Lee Mikeska Gardner, Director of Education and Community Initiatives Kortney Adams, and its Board of Directors, CST is an innovator in the nonprofit arts field in collaborative leadership. The model will be expanded and a national search is currently underway for a Co-Artistic Director to join Gardner in leadership.

Central Square Theater engages over 35,000 people annually through live performance, rigorous youth education, and community programs. CST works closely with MIT on Catalyst Collaborative@MIT (CC@MIT), one of the only nationwide partnerships between a world class research institute and a professional theater. CC@MIT creates and presents plays that deepen public engagement with science, while providing creative and emotional experiences not available in other forms of dialogue about science.

Central Square Theater’s education programs serve youth throughout Cambridge and Greater Boston via in-school residencies, onsite programs, and collaborations with community partners. Youth Underground (YU), CST’s award winning youth development program, provides a platform for members to broaden their own perspectives and understand others’, and to come to a deeper understanding of self as they cultivate their artistry. YU members define themselves as change agents and emerging opinion leaders, in their neighborhoods and beyond. This year, YU is partnering with Lemelson-MIT to create and perform a new play aimed at diversifying the next generation of youth inventors.


Kortney Adams headshot
Kortney Adams
Director of Education & Community Initiatives
Catherine Carr Kelly Headshot
Catherine Carr-Kelly
Executive Director
Lee Mikeska Gardner headshot
Lee Mikeska Gardner
Artistic Director

Our Team

Maggie Moore Abdow headshot
Maggie Moore Abdow
Director of Development
Cassie Chapados
Cassie Chapados
Director of Production
AJ Helman headshot
AJ Helman
AJ Helman
Athéna Gwendolyn-Baptiste
Assistant Guest Experience Manager
Nicholas Peterson headshot
Nicholas Peterson
Director of Marketing
Kevin Williams Headshot
Kevin Williams
Education Programs Manager
Debra Wise headshot
Debra Wise
Director of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT
Roberto P.
Digital Design & Content Manager
Kara Powers
Guest Experience Manager