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Inhaltsangabe: The 5th annual collection of new plays contains an eclectic mix of styles and subjects, all produced during the 2002-2003 theatrical season. Includes an introduction by Francis Hill, Artistic Director of Urban Stages, an Off-Broadway theater in New York City. Smashing by Brooke Berman - A comedy about a young woman determined to confront a novelist who has thinly fictionalized their love affair when she was a teen and he was a student of her father (a successful novelist. Corner Wars by Tim Dowlin - A poignant drama about teenaged drug dealers in Philadelphia. This play won the prestigious Oppenheimer Award, which is annually awarded to the outstanding debut by a new playwright. Midnight by David Epstein - A backstage showbiz comedy set in the 1950s. Spanish Girl by Hunt Holman - A comedy about college students. Homebound by Javon Johnson A drama about juvenile delinquents in a detention facility. Phat Girls by Debbie Lamedman -A very inventive comedy about teen female self image. The Sweepers by John C. Picardi - A comic drama about Italian American women keeping the home fires burning during World War II.

From the Inside Flap: After going to the theater approximately 200 times during the 2002-2003 season, and reading maybe 500 plays in manuscript, here are my choices for the "best" plays I could come up with during the above time period. I put "best" in quotations marks because, let's be honest, any selection process of this sort is more or less subjective - which means I think these plays are worthy of Smith and Kraus' exemplary New Playwrights series. For one thing, all seven authors whose work you will find here not only wrote their fine plays, but show great promise for writing more. None is what you might call an A-list playwright - but all show great promise of becoming one. They may work in very disparate styles, but all have demonstrated the ability to tell a compelling story, in a theatrical way. Hunt Holman's work has been popping up regularly at small theaters in New York. I saw Spanish Girl in a workshop series produced by Off-Broadway's Second Stage, and I was most impressed with Mr. Holman's ability to create compelling, college-age characters and to take their concerns seriously, treating them with much wit and good humor. Tim Dowlin's Corner Wars was also produced in a small New York theater, though by a company from Philadelphia. Like Spanish Girl, it is about young people; here, teenaged drug dealers on a Philly street corner. Mr. Dowlin has beautifully captured the world of these characters and made us care about them, rather than dismiss them as a bunch of thugs. The Sweepers, by John C. Picardi, is a drama about Italian-American women keeping the home fires burning while the men are off at war, during the Second World War. It was produced Off-Broadway by Urban Stages, whose Artistic Director, Frances Hill, has contributed the Introduction to this anthology. Urban Stages produced another play in Mr. Picardi's cycle of plays about Italian American life, Seven Rabbits on a Pole, during the 2003-2004 season. It was even more highly acclaimed than the well-reviewed The Sweepers. Javon Johnson's Homebound has been produced in regional theaters but has not, as of this writing, been done in New York. Like Corner Wars, it's about teenage criminals - in this case, four young men incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility. Like Mr. Dowlin, Mr. Johnson treats his characters with wit and compassion. Smashing by Brooke Berman focuses on a teenaged girl who learns, to her chagrin, that a very successful, very visible novelist, once a protégé of her novelist father, has published a thinly-veiled roman à clef about the torrid affair he had with her before he became famous. Debbie Lamedman's phat girls is also about a teenager. Its subject is eating disorders and self-esteem issues among teenaged girls, and it handles this subject in a very inventive, theatrical way. While all the plays in this book have humorous moments, mostly they are what we tend to call serious plays. David Epstein's Midnight, on the other hand, is an out-and-out, unabashed, honest-to-goodness comedy, reminiscent of show-biz comedies from yesteryear, such as The Butter and Egg Man or Light Up the Sky. I think Mr. Epstein is a comic talent to watch, and I hope you'll find Midnight as funny as I do. Well, that's it. I hope you like all these plays. - D.L. Lepidus

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