Blank Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival Set for May-June - Full Schedule and Play Details
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. Full details below.
"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.
The schedule for this year is a follows:
WEEK ONE May 31 - June 3
By Spencer Emerson Opal-Levine (age 9), Sarasota, FL
What do you want to become? Do you have to follow the rules? The denizens of a local Starbucks ask these same questions, but the answers are not what you expect.
Mentor – Ellen Byron
Director – David Shine
THE GRANT PROPOSAL
By Nick Mecikalski (age 18), Madison, AL
In the too-near future, your productivity is very closely watched and charted. This family struggles with what one must do when Grandpa is no longer "useful."
Mentor – Mark Saltzman
Director – James Kerwin
By Kate Herzlin (age 19), Rockville Centre, NY
Princess has been sheltered her whole life, as if raised in a fairy tale. But what should she do if a dream life isn't her dream? Can she ever ?nd her true self or must she live everyone else's version of happily ever after?"
Mentor – Brighde Mullins
Director – April Webster
WEEK TWO June 7 – 10
By Zachary Weaver (age 15), Overland Park, KS
What if they kept a list of your life accomplishments? What would be in your Index? Maybe you haven't done anything noteworthy. Does that make you not worthy?
Mentor – Patrick Burleigh
Director – Trevor Bishop
By Brendan Blaber (age 17), Indian Head Park, IL
The last day at Camp Itchyknee seems like the end of the world. And when you are 12 years old, it just may be. Especially if you haven't been able to tell the cute girl how much you like her yet.
Mentor – David Rambo
Director – J. Richey Nash
THE ART OF LOSING
By Nicole Acton (age 18), Interlochen, MI
Family matters. It is important to give of yourself to help those that have always helped you. But how much can one give? And for how long? And at what cost?
Mentor – Christopher Kyle
Director – Loni Peristere
WEEK THREE June 14 – 17
By David Agronin (age 17), Owings Mills, MD
Len needs to apologize to his girlfriend but she's not picking up her phone, so he leaves a message. And then another. And then another. Can he stop digging this terrible hole for himself and ever get back in her arms?
Mentor – Austin Winsberg
Director – Matt Graber
OTHER PEOPLE'S ORGANS
By Paige Roth (age 18), San Antonio, TX
Getting Mom's attention is never easy, especially when she is so self-obsessed. But Carlton needs
more that just that from her mother: she needs to know what really happened to her father.
By Elana Zeltser (age 16), Sherman Oaks, CA
Kacey doesn't get why she needs to write a paper on Joan of Arc. What could this girl from a million years ago have to do with her? She just might ?nd out, when Joan in her jail cell appears in Kacey's bedroom.
Mentor – Kelly Miller
Director – Barbara Bain
WEEK FOUR June 21 – 24
BEAR IN MIND
By Emma Steinkellner (age 17), Santa Barbara, CA
Sometimes having a conscience can be a real bear. In Annie's case it is literally a large British bear who wants her to become respectable. So naturally, she tries to get rid of him.
Mentor – Gary Tieche
Director – Jeff Maynard
ONE PLUS ONE IS FOUR
By Rachel Kaly (age 16), Forest Hills, NY
When a meteor is hurtling it way to earth, about to destroy all in half an hour, is it too late to look for love?
Mentor – Dave Holstein
Director – Warren Davis
By Dylan Zwickel (age 19), Manhattan Beach, CA
When your violin strings break, you see a Luthier to get them ?xed. But where do you go when you
break your heart strings?
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.