Newspaper article International New York Times

Sheri Goldhirsch, Who Nurtured Young Playwrights, Dies at 55

Newspaper article International New York Times

Sheri Goldhirsch, Who Nurtured Young Playwrights, Dies at 55

Article excerpt

Ms. Goldhirsch, the artistic director of Young Playwrights Inc., was responsible for helping along the careers of generations of American dramatists.

Sheri M. Goldhirsch, the artistic director of Young Playwrights Inc., an organization that produces the work of dramatists who are no more than 18, died on Sept. 22 in Manhattan. She was 55.

The apparent cause was liver failure, said Brett W. Reynolds, the group's interim artistic director. Ms. Goldhirsch had been in declining health in recent years.

Established in 1981 by Stephen Sondheim as the Foundation of the Dramatists Guild, Young Playwrights Inc., as it has been known since the early 1990s, holds workshops, retreats and competitions for incipient dramatists, many of whom go on to theatrical careers.

"She cultivated several generations of American playwrights," the dramatist David Henry Hwang, the president of the Young Playwrights board, said of Ms. Goldhirsch in a telephone interview on Monday. "For so many of them, she was the first person to identify their work; she followed their work their entire lives. She was the one who would come to your readings, come to your productions."

At the organization's Young Playwrights Festival in New York, the winners of its annual national competition receive Off Broadway readings by professional actors, with professional directors, on stages including those of the New York Shakespeare Festival, Playwrights Horizons and the Lucille Lortel and Cherry Lane Theaters. (The organization furnishes the winners with fully staged productions in years when it is economically viable.)

Notable Young Playwrights alumni include the dramatists Rebecca Gilman, Kenneth Lonergan and Jonathan Marc Sherman. Actors who have appeared in the festival's staged readings have included Lili Taylor, Kathleen Chalfant, Debra Monk, Robert Sean Leonard and Jonathan Del Arco. …

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