The Blank Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival is a nationwide playwriting competition for writers ages 9 to 19 that’s been around since 1993. The 12 best plays are chosen by a panel of theatre professionals from submissions across America. Winning playwrights are provided careful mentoring and direction from industry professionals to help prepare their work for public performance and hone their skills, talent and confidence.

Nowhere else in the nation can young playwrights receive the prize of seeing their vision come to life on stage in a professional production featuring known actors from film, television and theatre. The plays are crafted by seasoned professional directors and each is given several public performances in a month-long Festival. The Festival plays a critical role in training and supporting the next generation of theatre artists. There are no submission fees for this program.

YPF plays a critical role in training and supporting the next generation of theatre artists. Many of these  playwrights have gone on to successful writing careers in and out of the theatre. As we say in our curtain speech each evening, ‘-‘These kids are the future of the theatre. If we don’t support their work today, we won’t have a generation of artists tomorrow.”

This Festival is unique in the United States. While there may be other young playwrights programs, YPF differs from the rest in two ways:

1) we fully produce the winning plays, and

2) we provide the playwrights a professional experience from beginning to end

Winners are never considered “students,” they are playwrights.

What began in 1993 as a one night only reading, with scripts submitted from Los Angeles County, has become a month long festival of 12 plays professionally staged for full weekend runs, with submissions from 27 different states.

Under the direction of The Blank’s Founding Artistic Director Daniel Henning, The Blank’s Annual Nationwide Young Playwrights Festival is presented at The Stella Adler in Hollywood, CA in June of every year. Rehearsals will also take place at The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre in Hollywood. The 12 winning plays are professionally produced for weekend-long runs.

In 2015, we completed our 23rd YPF and have produced 272 plays by playwrights ages 9 to 19.

The Young Playwrights Festival is a unique opportunity to magnify the voices of our youth, and thus not only present their interpretations of the world but channel their vision into the public consciousness.

In the past few years, decreasing arts funding at schools has made the arts even less accessible to children, and has made a career in the arts seem next to impossible. YPF works to restore this gap by providing students with the opportunity to be fully immersed in an artistic production, to have their unique voices heard on a national level, and to be introduced to the professional Theatre world.

The YPF brings a national audience to Los Angeles and builds the future of theatre at the same time. This program is not on~ a sustainable event for The Blank; it is designed to sustain the art of Theatre for future generations.

As part of the Festival we have created a flagship Apprenticeship Program with tremendous opportunities for the participants. Each summer 12 to 18 students (including returning military veterans) from around the world are given invaluable hands-on immersion training in theatre as an integral part of the production team. They are stage managers, assistant directors, design assistants and are offered a unique opportunity to work with 12 different directors during the month-long Festival. This job-training program is free of charge.

Each year we inspire more and more young writers as evidenced by the growing number of submissions. One of the most important aspects of the Festival, and its most enduring feature, is the legacy it continues to create. The Festival plays a critical role in training and supporting the next generation of theatre artists:

Victor Kaufold, a YPF winner, tackled the issue of school shootings in The Why which was then produced on our Mainstage for which Victor earned an Ovation Award nomination for “Best Writing-World Premiere” at 19 years old.

Lauren Yee, a two-time YPF winner, was so inspired by her experiences that she started the San Francisco Young Playwrights Festival in 2006, was just nominated for the NY Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for playwrighting and is having her next play produced by the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago this season.

Austin Winsberg, a five-time winner, had his musical First Date open on Broadway this season and adapted the highly-successful The Sound of Music Live! on NBC.

And most impressively, Stephen Karam, a three-time YPF winner, was a 2012 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play Sons of the Prophet.

As part of the Festival we have created a flagship Apprenticeship Program with tremendous opportunities for the participants.

Each summer 12 to 18 students (including returning military veterans) from around the world are given invaluable hands-on immersion training in theatre as an integral part of the production team. They are stage managers, assistant directors, design assistants and are offered a unique opportunity to work with 12 different directors during the month-long Festival.

This job-training program is free of charge. If interested in applying please email info@theblank.com for an application.

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