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Young Playwrights Deadline Sept. 29

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Young Playwrights Inc. (YPI) is now older than most of the people who participate in it.

In the 20 years since then--Dramatists Guild President Stephen Sondheim launched YPI to encourage budding dramatists, the program has introduced several esteemed playwrights to the theatregoing world, including Kenneth Lonergan ("Lobby Hero," "This Is Our Youth," "You Can Count on Me"), Rebecca Gilman ("Spinning Into Butter," "Boy Gets Girl"), and Jonathan Mark Sherman ("Women and Wallace," "Marvin's Room").

Newly emerging scriptwriting talent will take its place next to those famous alumni this autumn, as another group of high school-aged dramatists participates in its intensive Advanced Playwriting Workshop (APW).

The weekly program will begin Oct. 10 at the YPI offices, located at 306 W. 38th St. Managing Director Brett Reynolds will lead the meetings, guiding the young writers through exercises taken from YPI's "Write a Play!" curriculum. On selected evenings, (virtually every other week), the exercises end with a trip to the theatre where the workshop members stay behind to discuss the works with members of the creative team and casts.

Near the end of the course, writers will see their scripts read by union actors in professionally staged readings in front of real audiences.

And it's free! The lessons, the theatre, and even the food that YPI puts out at meetings to replenish the calories burned by all that thinking and creating: it's all provided to the young playwrights free of charge, thanks to money provided by Universal Studios and other benefactors.

To participate, school age writers (generally understood to be 18 and younger) must apply by Sept. 29. Applications for the 2001-2002 APW are available by calling (212) 307-1140, e-mailing writeaplay@aol.com, or logging on to www.youngplaywrights.org. Participants will be selected based on the writing samples they provide, as well as on classroom teacher recommendations. YPI has a stated policy of serving "as an advocate for young writers regardless of ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, or economic status."

The 20-member board includes Sondheim, as executive vice president; Alfred Uhry, the author of "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Parade," as president; and Carol Hall, the songwriter of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," as secretary, plus the writers Wendy Wasserstein, David Henry Hwang, Lynn Ahrens, and George C. Wolfe.

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