Young Playwrights Festival Banner

The Blank Theater’s Young Playwright’s Festival Banner

Yesterday Ron and I went up to Hollywood to see a play at the Blank Theatre’s Young Playwright’s Festival. My incredibly talented friend Nicole had directed one of the plays.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say that I was utterly floored by the caliber of the work I saw. The three plays I saw were written by young adults who were all under the age of 19, but they were written with such mature viewpoints that I found myself truly inspired.

Usually, when I’ve seen plays written by young adults who are in high school or their early years of college, I can see their potential. They are rough around the edges or maybe they haven’t quite found their voice or point-of-view. Often, they are trying too hard to emulate a writer they admire (I definitely am guilty of this as a writer). I can tell in a few years, with practice, with care, with work, they could be really good.

But these kids…I wasn’t seeing their potential to be really good; they were already really, really good. And they already had strong points of view and really knew what they wanted to say.

It’s so inspiring. Seeing really good art is always inspiring to me. The ways that art tells truths about humanity–sometimes deeply painful and uncomfortable truths–has always been my favorite thing. And I was really impressed with the way all of the plays I saw let me live in the discomfort and didn’t necessarily offer an ending that made me feel okay.

As a matter of fact, I relished that. In a time when so much art (I’m looking in particular at film and television) is market-tested to within in an inch of its life and is designed to be comfortable, challenging pieces are refreshing. And I applaud the Blank Theatre for not telling these kids that theatre has to be easy and for letting their plays stand as they were. It gives me hope that there will continue to be art that isn’t the same old escapist boring stuff that I see every day.

(As an aside, there is nothing wrong with escapist art/entertainment per se. I love my light and fluffy silly science fiction and cartoons as much as anyone. I just find it disheartening that there is so little challenging work being promoted and funded. I’m trying to go out of my way to seek it more and support it more.)

So kudos to the Blank Theatre, my awesome friend Nicole, these kids who are writing these plays, and everyone who tries to make art. Keep doing what you do. It makes things better.