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Send in the Scribes

On the June 7 opening night of the 15th annual Blank Theatre Young Playwrights’ Festival at Hollywood’s Matrix Theatre, a near-capacity audience enjoyed the impressive event, which brings together promising young playwrights from across the nation and professionals who work in the productions as actors, directors, and mentors. Blank’s artistic director-founder Daniel Henning enthusiastically introduced three teenage playwrights to the appreciative audience.

The youngsters’ plays were among a dozen that the Blank chose for production from approximately 150 nationwide submissions. Each week through July 1, a separate triple-bill of the plays is presented. Writers of the well received trio of plays in the opening week’s fare included 16-year-old Matthew Grossman of New York. His Counting the Sheep, a sharp satiric farce, lampooning the U.S. Supreme Court—somewhat reminiscent of David Mamet’s uproarious kangaroo-court comedy Romance—was mentored by legendary filmmaker Blake Edwards and directed by Kirsten Sanderson. Another offering was from 18-year-old Phoebe Rush of Highland Park, Illinois. White Woman is an intense interracial love story infused with political issues and set in Uganda. It was mentored by Murray McRae and directed by Ken Page. Finally, 16-year-old Gabriel Neustadt of St. Petersburg, Florida was the author of Strand in the Closet, a heartrending family drama about the contentious reunion two brothers dealing with financial matters after the death of their mother, mentored by David Holstein and directed by Barbara Bain. Hennings’ ambitious gift to budding scribes across the nation grows in quality and prestige each year. Festival information is available at www.youngplaywrights.com.

--Les Spindle

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