Ms. Goldhirsch was a behind-the-scenes figure in the theatre community, unknown to the public, but cherished by many writers as the first person to give them a break.
Young Playwrights Inc. was created in 1981 by composer Stephen Sondheim. Its function was to identify pre-teen and teen dramatists of promise, and nurture their work through workshops, competitions and productions. Among the writers who got their start with the organization are Jonathan Marc Sherman, Kenneth Lonergan, Evan Smith and Rebecca Gilman. The readings and workshops often featured well-known professional directors and actors.
Ms. Goldhirsch joined Young Playwright in 1982 as an intern, shortly after it began. She later became the managing director and, finally, in 1993, the artistic director. As such, she read the work of hundreds of hopeful playwrights.
On the Young Playwrights website, Sondheim wrote, "The untimely passing of Sheri Goldhirsch is not only a shock to me, but to the entire Young Playwrights Inc. family—a large one, consisting as it does not only of the seven board members, but also the 32,300 writers 18 years and younger who have entered their plays in the annual competition (the 340 winners of which have, as a result, been lucky enough to see their plays professionally staged or produced). Sheri read every one of those plays during her 34 years of running the organization, and wrote personal acknowledgments to the playwrights. Sheri devoted her entire career to encouraging young people to find their creative roots and let them grow. Our loss is their loss, and it is a mighty one."
Sheri Mariam Goldhirsch was born in Brooklyn on Jan. 23, 1960. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Pace University. She left no immediate survivors.