Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary, The Blank Theatre's Nationwide Young Playwrights Festival has chosen 12 plays by young playwrights, aged 9 -19, from nine different states. These plays will be presented by professional actors and directors in this year's festival at The Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, May 31 - June 24.
"Ever since I acted in the first Young Playwrights Festival, I have always had a special place in my heart for these extremely talented teenagers," says Blank Artistic Producer Noah Wyle. "The issues tackled, and the depth of emotion and understanding these kids have is remarkable. I wish I knew as much as they do when I was their age!"
This year's winning plays are: COFFEE TALK by Spencer Opal-Levine, Sarasota, FL, Age 9; DAMMIT! by David Agronin, Owings Mills, MD, Age 17; BEAR IN MIND by Emma Steinkellner, Santa Barbara, CA, Age 17; THE ART OF LOSING by Nicole Acton, Interlochen, MI, Age 18; ARC by Elana Zeltser, Sherman Oaks, CA, Age 16; THE INDEX by Zachary Weaver, Overland Park, KS, Age 19; OTHER PEOPLE'S ORGANS by Paige Roth, San Antonio, TX, Age 18; SCRAPBOOK by Brendan Blaber, Indian Head Park, IL, Age 17; THE GRANT PROPOSAL by Nick Mecikalski, Madison, AL, Age 18; ONE PLUS ONE IS FOUR by Rachel Kaly, Forest Hills, NY, Age 16; PRINCESS by Kate Herzlin, Rockville Centre, NY, Age 19; and THE CARDIOLUTHIER by Dylan Zwickel, Manhattan Beach, CA, Age 19.
This year's winners join a prestigious club of alumni which includes 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist Stephen Karam, who was a three-time festival winner, and Adam Cochran (a two-time winner in YPF), who was nominated for a Drama Desk Award in NYC for Outstanding Music in a Play in 2011.
A panel of theatre professionals chose from over 200 plays submitted by teenagers across the nation. Winning playwrights are next assigned a mentor, and then a professional director who will help them hone their scripts for four public performances with professional actors. This year's mentors include David Rambo (NYC22, V, CSI), John Cariani (Almost Maine), Dave Holstein (Weeds), and Ellen Byron (Just Shoot Me, Wings). Over the past 19 years, The Blank has produced 220 plays by teenaged playwrights.
Eleven of those plays or playwrights have gone on to be presented on The Blank's mainstage, including Speech & Debate by Stephen Karam. Additionally, many of the plays have been nominated for LA theatre awards, including an Ovation Award for Best Writing-World Premiere, and an LA Weekly Award for Best One-Act Playwriting. Other alumni playwrights are populating the nation's theatres and sound stages with their work. Many YPF winners have gone on to successful writing careers creating TV shows, filling regional stages, teaching writing to others, and founding regional Young Playwrights Festivals.
In support of the 20th Anniversary YPF, The Blank received its first ever grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This year's festival is also made possible by Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, The Plum Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Blank Theatre's 20th Annual Young Playwrights Festival runs May 31 - June 24 at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Boulevard, in Hollywood. The performance schedule is Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Each week's program includes three plays, and admission is $20 for adults and $14 for students. Festival passes, which are good for one ticket each week of the festival, are $65. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at www.TheBlank.com, or via phone by calling (323) 661-9827.