wordplay The Newsletter of Young Playwrights Inc August 2009 Write This! 13 Master Play Challenge On July 18, 2009, young playwrights, their families and friends, and the general public gathered at the Vineyard Theatre to hear the plays authored by the 13 young writers participating in this year’s Young Playwrights Inc. Urban Retreat. The readings were the culmination of a week long intense playwriting “boot camp” that drew participants from across the country. With lots of writing assignments, special “lunch and learn” sessions with seasoned theater professionals including Walter Bobbie and David Henry Hwang, master classes, and several visits to see Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre, these writers ended the week exhausted but enriched. When the playwrights arrived a week earlier, their first task was to begin writing. Each participant kept a journal and notebook full of exercises and ideas. Each workshop throughout the week involved skillbuilding exercises to help the writers further hone their craft. The topics of workshops ranged from character to conflict, setting to major dramatic question. Then, on Thursday, the playwrights received their commission. The writers were to create a short play with the following guidelines: no stage directions would be read, the only props they could use were a coconut, a hammer, a handkerchief, an umbrella, or a spoon—and they must use at least one. They could only use three actors, though they could have as many characters as they wanted. With these stipulations, each playwright had to produce a first draft within 24 hours. Dramaturgs were hired to work with the playwrights on developing their work, and a cold reading was given so that the playwrights could hear their work read out loud before working on a second draft. By Saturday morning, things moved into the production phase. Each play received a one hour rehearsal with a professional director and actors leading up to the performance that evening. As the playwrights took to the stage at the end of the evening for their curtain call, the audience rose to its feet. A round of well-deserved applause for these courageous writers and their work! If you are interested in our Urban Retreat for next summer, please visit us at www. youngplaywrights.org.