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Photos: Sondheim's Young Playwrights, Inc. Hosts 2013 Urban Retreat

In 1981, Stephen Sondheim brought renowned British director and educator Gerald Chapman from London's Royal Court Theatre to New York to inspire a new generation of playwrights. Out of this collaboration came the groundbreaking Young Playwrights, Inc. Young Playwrights, Inc. is the recipient of two Obies, the NY Drama Critics Circle Award, Jujamcym Award and many other educational and cultural awards.

Of the Young Playwrights, Inc. program, Stephen Sondheim states, "I am happy to say that Young Playwrights Inc. is now in its 31st year, under the direction of Artistic Director Sheri M. Goldhirsch, and our president, David Henry Hwang. We can take heart in the fact that there are hundreds of young writers around who have not been totally persuaded that television and sit-coms and formless movies and their innumerable (though often numbered) spin-offs represent the state of the narrative art. Our high hopes for the future, and your support, bolsters them. Thank you for your interest in their work. "

This year 14 students were selected from dozens of applicants from across the United States to participate in the 2013 Young Playwrights, Inc. Urban Retreat. The Urban Retreat is a nine day intensive in New York City that culminates in a staged reading off-broadway at the Lucille Lortell Theatre. The 2013 Urban Retreat Young Playwrights are: Ari Bell, Leah Bell, Jacqueline Crispino, Frank Garland, Jordan Eli Goldberg, Candace Hartsuyker, Leah Lane, Mollie Lipkowitz, Erin Neitzel, Dahlia Pham, Melina Schmidt, William Stieglitz, Irene Tapert, and Connor Woods.

Urban Retreat Young Playwrights take two to three intensive workshops daily. These sessions are designed to get a play started, help create complex characters and distinctive dialogue, offer solutions to writer's block, and explore revisions. Playwrights also attend discussions and lectures by prominent theater artists and work one-on-one with workshop leaders on revising and deepening the playwrights' writing; then collaborate with professional dramaturgs, directors, and actors on the production of a new play. This year's Urban Retreat Playwrights were given a commission to write a play inspired by the word: "Burst". The plays were presented at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on July 20th and directed by Christopher Windom, Padraic Lillis and Amanda Junco.

Young Playwrights, Inc. is the only professional theater in the United States dedicated to identifying, developing and promoting playwrights aged 18 and under: on stage, in the classroom and in the artistic community. The Young Playwrights, Inc. programs have exposed young people to the art of playwriting through intensive workshops and collaboration with theater professionals. For more information on Young Playwrights, Inc. see

Photo Credit: Rob Rich

2013 Urban Retreat Young Playwrights: (back row) Erin Neitzel, Leah Lane, Ari Bell, Sheri M. Goldhirsch (Artistic Director), Mollie Lipkowitz, Connor Woods, Leah Bell, Jacqueline Crispino; (front row) Candace Hartsuyker, Dahlia Pham, Frank Garland, Irene Tapert, William Stieglitz

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