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The Global Film Village: Sitting in the speak easy of the Stella Adler Theatre by Marla Lewin


Last night was the closing of the month long 17th annual nationwide Young Playwrights Festival, at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The Festival is an opportunity for teenage playwrights to have their work produced, directed and acted out by professional actors from the the Hollywood community. Twelve winning plays were chosen by a panel of theatre professionals from plays submitted by teenaged playwrights, aged 15 -19 from across the United States. Playwrights were then assigned a writing mentor (professional writer) and a professional director who helped them hone their scripts for 5 public performances by professional actors. 


Noah Wyle, Artistic Producer  of the Blank Theatre Company said “Ever since I acted in the First Young Playwrights Festival, I have always had a special place in my heart for these extremely talented teenaged playwrights. The caliber of these plays keeps getting better and better. It is remarkable to know that there are kids creating art at a level that can be compared to most adults. And by the way, often more entertaining!”  Noah, who just signed on with Steven Spielberg for a new science fiction series on TNT was away shooting a film in DC and could not be at the closing night event. "My association with The Blank and the Young Playwrights Festival in particular is one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional life. The 17th Anniversary of the Festival is a testament to everyone involved. Together we have given birth to 196 plays written by teenagers," Noah said with pride. 


Founder of the Young Playwrights Festival, Daniel Henning, is artistic director/producer and directed the first of the one act plays on the Sunday night program. MOON ON THE HORIZON by Elizabeth Frankel, Age 16 from Leonia, NJ was an exceptionally mature and well written piece that truly sprang to life with the amusing performances by DB Sweeney and Lynsey Bartilson. 


The second piece of the evening EYE OF THE BEHOLDER by Joe Larrea & Graham Riley (18) from Sacramento, CA, had a lot of fun exploring the moments before a wedding as we got to know the participants and they got to examine their motives. The cast was top notch especially the best man played by Richie Keen and the father Mike Genovese.


The final play WHO IS MORRIE ROTHLINE by Gabriel Nuestadt (18) from St. Petersburg, FL took on a more sobering tone. Daniel Henning appealed to the audience at the conclusion of the night's performances, "we need a regional theatre in Hollywood. The Blank Theatre is looking to raise funding to do this. There is a regional theatre in Culver city, we want one in Hollywood."  


Afterwards I was sitting in the speak easy of the Stella Adler Theatre surrounded by young playwrights drinking soft drinks because they weren't old enough to drink but none the less they had written very professional one act plays that equaled or exceeded those written by adults that I have seen recently. I commented that it reminded me of my days as a Padua Hills Playwright and the rich experience that had provided to me in shaping my career. This is a very good program and one that the community should support vigorously. In these times when cultural institutions are suffering, the networks would be wise to throw some money into supporting this endeavor to help foster tomorrow's writers.


Actors participating in the event are: Arielle Kebbel (“The Uninvited”, “The Grudge 2”), DB Sweeney (“Jericho”, “Crash”), Nicholas Brendon (“Criminal Minds”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Jack Lauffer (“Huff”), Michael Welch (“Twilight”, “Joan of Arcadia”), Elaine Hendrix (“Privileged”, “The Parent Trap”), Todd Grinnell (“Desperate Housewives”),  Dale Dickey (“My Name is Earl”), Spencer Daniels (“Star Trek”, “The Office”), Hallie Hirsch (”E.R.”, “90210”), and Emmy Award-winner Gordon Clapp (“NYPD Blue”, Tony nominee for Broadway’s “Glengarry Glen Ross”). The stars were joined by 60 other professional actors all lending their acting talents to these talented teens’ plays.


“Week One” (June 4 -7) featured Gordon Clapp, Jack Lauffer, Elaine Hendrix, Adam Wylie (“Wicked”, Broadway’s “Into the Woods”) and Spencer Daniels. 


“Week Two” (June 11-14) featured Nicholas Brendon, Hallee Hirsch, Dale Dickey and Meredith Monroe (“Dawson’s Creek”). 


“Week Three” of the Fest from June 18-21 featured Arielle Kebbel, Michael Welch and Taylor Nichols star in. 


“Week Four” from June 25-28  featured  D.B. Sweeney, Todd Grinnell, Richie Keen, Rhea Seehorn (“The Starter Wife”) and Tom Lenk (“Transformers”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Michael Genovese, ("E.R.","The Unit").


This year’s Festival also featured the work of 2009 ATCA New Play Award winner E.M. Lewis (“Heads”, “Song of Extinction”), David Holstein (“Weeds”), Barbara Bain (3-time Emmy Award winner), Jonathan Tolins (Broadway playwright), Austin Winsberg (creator ABC’s “Jake in Progress”), Adam Belanoff (co-Exec Prod “The Closer”), 7-Time Emmy Award Winning writer Mark Saltzman ( The Blank’s “Setup & Punch”), Daniel Henning (The Blank’s Artistic Director) and April Webster (Casting Director “Star Trek”, “Lost”) in directing and mentoring roles.


In the past 16 years, The Blank has produced 184 plays by teenaged playwrights. The Blank Theatre Company’s 17th Annual Young Playwrights Festival is made possible by the support of James Irvine Foundation, Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Plum Foundation, Rosenthal Charitable Trust, County of Los Angeles Arts Commission & City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.





WHAT ALL SCHOOL CHILDREN LEARN by Benjamin Sprung-Keyser (Age 16) from Los Angeles, CA; 

I GET KNOCKED DOWN by Patrick Howley (age 19) from Avon, CT; A. & A.  by Alexander  Nunnelly (age 17) from St. Petersburg, FL;  

FROM YOUR SWEETHEART by Alex Valdez (age 15) from Pasadena, CA;  

NONE OF MY FRIENDS ARE DYING by Sam Meyer (age 17) from Houston, TX; 

BLOOD by Jessica Juhrend (19) Spearfish, SD;  

OTHER PEOPLE’S GARDEN GNOMES By Aliza Goldstein (17) Jacksonville, FL;  

GOD’S BOARD MEETING by Lauren Marie Buangan (16) Twenty Nine Palms, CA;  

AFTER MAREN by Zoe Barker-Aderem (18) Seattle, WA;   

MOON ON THE HORIZON by Elizabeth Frankel (16) Leonia, NJ; 

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER by Joe Larrea & Graham Riley (18) Sacramento, CA; 

WHO IS MORRIE ROTHLINE by Gabriel Nuestadt (18) St. Petersburg, FL.


“Alumni” playwrights are populating the nation’s theatres and soundstages with their work. Many of the festival's winners have gone on to successful writing careers creating TV shows, filling regional stages, teaching writing to others, founding regional Young Playwrights Festivals of their own. 






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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.


Los Angeles

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