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Here's a Switch: A Bar Looking for a Playwright

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The American Bar Association wants to honor dramatists whose work has helped foster the public's understanding of the law and the legal system. The national organization for attorneys has announced guidelines for its annual Silver Gavel Awards, recognizing plays, television programs, and film and video works produced in 2000.

According to Howard Kaplan, staff director for the standing committee on gavel awards at the ABA, the organization generally "does not receive a great many entries in the theatrical production category," and hopes playwrights will respond this year.

"There is no requirement that awards will be given out in any particular category," he told Back Stage, "and actually it has been several years since we've had a winning play."

The competition's $40 entry fee may be one of the things that has discouraged playwrights from entering in the past, but Kaplan said the ABA will grant hardship waivers upon request to dramatists. "The entrance fees are to kind of help defray some of the costs of the expenses we have presenting the award," he said. "In film and television the fees aren't a problem, but if they are a problem for some authors, they can send a fax or e-mail to me and ask for the hardship waiver."

The deadline for submissions is Thurs., Jan. 11. To be eligible, entries must be of works that were originally published, produced, or presented in the 2000 calendar year. The ABA requires five copies of scripts (and programs and videotapes, if available), plus five copies of the entry form, which is available by logging on to www.abanet.org or by calling (312) 988-5720.

To request a hardship waiver, fax Kaplan at (312) 988-5494 or e-mail him at howardkaplan@staff.abanet.org.

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