Founded in 1981 by composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Young Playwrights Inc. is the only professional theater in the United States dedicated to identifying, developing, and promoting playwrights aged 18 and under: on stage, in the classroom, and in the artistic community.
Through professional production and playwright development, Young Playwrights Inc. fosters artists aged 18 and younger and a body of work representing the voices of younger writers. Young Playwrights Inc. is a forum for uncensored self-expression that insures that the artistic voices of young people are acknowledged; at the core of every program is the philosophy that every person has something valuable to say and an inherent right to be heard.
Programs include the Young Playwrights Festival National Playwriting Competition, which culminates with the Young Playwrights Conference, a development program for the top playwrights; the Off Broadway Young Playwrights Festival; Write A Play! Workshops for students and the Teacher Training Institute; the Advanced Playwriting Workshop for New York-area writers who wish to develop their skills after school; Write A Play! NYC; and the Urban RetreatThe recipient of 2 Obie Awards, the Jujamcyn Award, the NY Drama Critics Circle Award, the Margo Jones Award, 20 Newsday Oppy Awards, the Alliance for the Arts Schools and Culture Award, Young Playwrights Inc. has offered professional productions to 99 writers and readings to 425 more – and has seen over 90% of its writers continue writing, including Kenneth Lonergan, Rebecca Gilman, Kate Moira Ryan, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Noah Haidle, Carter L. Bays, Madeleine George, Keith Glover, and recent Academy Award-nominees Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin. Since 1981, 37,000 writers have received written evaluations of their work; 400 playwrights have had their work professionally presented to New York audiences; 80,000 3rd through 12th graders studied playwriting in Write A Play! workshops; 3,300 teachers participated in the Teacher Training Institute; 9,000 professionals were employed: playwrights, actors, directors, dramaturgs, designers, craftspeople, and workshop leaders. This constituency comprises young people, artists, educators, and theatergoers from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic groups.
To remain accessible, Young Playwrights Inc. makes its programs available at little or no cost. Special effort is made to reach young people directly (in addition to through their teachers), allowing young writers without creative support in school to opt into Young Playwrights Inc. programming on their own.