Stephen Sondheim created Young Playwrights Inc. in 1981 to seek out and nurture new American playwrights, beginning the careers of writers such as Kenneth Lonergan, Rebecca Gilman and Evan Smith. This weekend, the 20th annual festival comes to a close, Dec. 8.
The festival has included some new events this year, like the "Write a Play! Intergenerational Performance Series," in which young people and seniors collaborate throughout the entire production process, including pre-production workshops and post-production discussions. The two performances spawned from this project are From the Mouths of Babes by 18-year-old Eva Anderson, and It's Hard Work Being a Playa by Jason New Bern, also 18.
Also new to the festival are the "Tuesday Night Talks", post-show discussions conducted by respected writers associated with Young Playwrights, including Alfred Uhry, Nan Knighton, John Weidman, Lynn Ahrens, Caroll Hall and David Henry Hwang.
This year's new plays include Johnny Likaboot Kills His Father!! [sic], a piece about a young writer working out issues with his father in creative prose, by 16 year-old Yelena Elkind from Brooklyn, Conference Time, a play putting a dysfunctional committee of absurdist characters together, by 17 year-old Jeb G. Havens from Ellington Connecticut, Gorgeous Raptors, about the fantasy world created by the only Jewish girl in a small Georgia town by 18 year-old Lucy Alibar Harrison from Monticello, Florida and Nursery, which examines the impact of violence and was written before the Columbine High School tragedy by 18 year-old Julia Jarcho from New York City.
The Young Playwrights 20th Anniversary Festival is presented at The Alternative Space at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Tickets are available from Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200. For more information on the festival, please call (212) 307-1140, or visit the website at www.youngplaywrights.org. — BY Steve Luber