The Blank Theatre's 24th Annual Young Playwrights Festival Names Winners
Said Noah Wyle (star of television's ER and Falling Skies), Artistic Producer at The Blank, "Each Spring for the past 23 years, The Blank has found the freshest, most original voices in the American theatre, invited them to Los Angeles, and promoted their work during a month-long festival in June. This thought provoking work, performed and directed by seasoned professionals, has entertained thousands of audience members over the years. While these authors are often as different as the states from which they come and the subjects with which they deal, they share something truly improbable. They're teenagers." Wyle continued, "These are not only the voices of today's theatre - they are the voices of tomorrow's as well."
Producing Director Heather Provost added, "I am especially pleased that 11 out of 12 Festival winners this year are female. Gender parity in our industry is so important and I'm happy that we are contributing to the balance."
This year's winning plays are: VICTIMOLOGY by Rachel Linton, Washington, DC, Age 18; AGE-SEX-LOCATION by Honor Levy, Los Angeles, CA, Age 18; MIND GAMES by Sarah Holland, Austin, TX, Age 18; SUPERMARKET OF LOST by Casandra Hsiao, Walnut, CA, Age 16; ABOUT ART by Alexa Derman, Westfield, NJ, Age 19; BITING ELEPHANTS by Sarah Steuer, Memphis, TN, Age 19; LAZY BOY by Charlotte Leavengood, St. Petersburg, FL, Age 16; GWENDOLYN by Dylan Schifrin, Sherman Oaks, CA, Age 17; LOVELY MADNESS by Ariella Carmell, Chicago, Age 16; DOESN'T THAT SOUND LOVELY? by Gabrielle Poisson, Boonton Township, NJ, Age 17; OVEREXPOSURE by Lani Kording, Costa Mesa, CA, Age 18; and STICK AND POKE by Johanna Stone, Altadena, CA, Age 17.
A panel of theatre professionals chose from 200 plays submitted by young writers 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 (Revolution, Empire, CSI), Dave Holstein (Weeds, Raising Hope), Ellen Byron (Just Shoot Me, Wings), Gary Tieche (Medium), Kit Steinkellner (four-time YPF winner), Beth Bigler (The Real Housewives of Atlanta and three-time YPF winner), Bert V. Royal (Dog Sees God), Austin Winsberg (five-time YPF winner), Adam Lapidus, Robert L. Freedman, Scott Damian, and Adam Belanoff. This year's directors are (in alphabetical order) Barbara Bain, June Carryl, Guillermo Cienfuegos, Warren Davis, Bjørn Johnson, Doug Oliphant, Loni Peristere, Christopher J. Raymond, Michael A. Shepperd, Laura Stribling, Richard Tatum, and April Webster.
Over the past 23 years, The Blank has produced 272 plays by young playwrights. Eleven of those plays or playwrights have gone on to be presented on The Blank's mainstage. 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 on Broadway, are filling regional stages, and have created network TV shows. Alumnus winner Stephen Karam has been a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and is currently Tony Award-nominated for Best Play for The Humans, a hit on Broadway this season.
This year's YPF is made possible in part by The Bloomberg Philanthropies, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Rosenthal Family Foundation, The Plum Foundation, and the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
The Blank Theatre's 24th Annual Young Playwrights Festival runs June 2-26 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 $68 for adults and $48 for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at www.TheBlank.com, or via phone by calling (323) 661-9827.