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4th Annual Cleveland Playwrights Festival Teaches the Craft of Writing Plays, for Free

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Okay, you're a playwright (or wannabe playwright, or just an interested person) in Cleveland. You want information about that craft, you want to meet people who write plays. And yet, you have no money.

Well, you're just the person they're looking for at the fourth annual Cleveland Playwrights Festival, sponsored by Playwrights Local. This one-day fest is all about being a playwright — in the world and in Cleveland — and it's free.

David Todd, artistic director of Playwrights Local, says this event is all about the playwrights. "We want to promote and draw attention to the budding and established playwrights in this area, so we're offering a series of workshops and small-group discussions that can help playwrights develop their work. It's also open to others who are just interested in the subject matter."

Todd and his group are collaborating with organizations such as Literary Cleveland, the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival, the Powerful Long Ladder Ensemble, the Dramatists Guild and more to create a full day of information and inspiration. There will also be staged readings of short plays and related activities.

The workshops cover a wide range of topics. Here's a taste: An exploration of 21st-century storytelling techniques in "The Sherlock Project" led by Eric Schmiedl; a panel discussion moderated by playwright Les Hunter on "Writing Plays That Get Produced;" and a performance of the tabletop play The Events of the Warren County Fair as Observed by a Young Astronaut, by Amy Schwabauer and Mikc Geither, followed by a talk-back session.

As a special event, there also will be a screening and talk-back of the new, locally created web-series Upstairs, with production contributor Robert Hunter and others. All these events are free and open to the general public.

Playwrights Local has produced eight new plays in its brief tenure in the city. And their staging of Objectively Reasonable — conceived by Todd, directed by Terrence Spivey and written by an ensemble of local playwrights — dealt with the community response to the Tamir Rice shooting tragedy. It received widespread critical acclaim, sparked many post-show discussions, and has been performed numerous times, even touring local schools.

No tickets or reservations are required (huzzah!) for the Cleveland Playwrights Festival. Just show up on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts, 397 East 156 St., in the Collinwood neighborhood. The programs are recommended for adults and teens, and run from 11 a.m. into the evening. For a full schedule of activities, visit playwrightslocal.org.

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