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The Playwrights Unit — one of EST/LA’s play-development programs — meets at 7:30 pm every Thursday, except for summer and holidays, in PU members’ living rooms or in the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Los Angeles (EST/LA) space in Atwater Village. This wide net expands our geographical reach.


During the pandemic, we met solely on Zoom, but for now we’re back to live meetings, which are currently live-Zoomed for a home audience. Playwrights can opt for a Zoom-only reading. As of now, our in-person venues are located in North Hollywood, Encino, Los Feliz, and Atwater Village.


We read a play, or portions of plays (even single scenes), and critique them — with respect and as positively as honesty allows. We want each other to succeed. Many of us have become friends over the years.


We welcome all styles of play, from kitchen sink to poetic phantasmagoria, as long as it’s intended for the stage. Playwrights control their reading’s feedback style and choice of moderator. They can bring in actors or work with the moderator to invite EST/LA’s fabulous actors (which is a good way of getting to know the company). These readings are rarely rehearsed.


Only a few PU people come to every meeting, but we hope our members will attend at least a few readings beyond their own. Many of us have learned as much discussing other people’s plays as we have discussing ours.


Most, though not all, PU members are also members of EST/LA. A few PU folks went on to become EST/LA members when they discovered the company’s opportunities: festivals, readings and productions, in which we’ve been very active as playwrights (and for some, as actors and directors as well). 


Currently, Steve Dierkes is the PU moderator, and he can give you more information about how EST/LA operates. You can also sign up for the non-member EST/LA weekly email bulletin by emailing — or tell Steve you’d like him to do it for you.

The Playwrights Unit accepts applications twice a year. Before applying to the PU, email Steve Dierkes at with any questions or to set up a phone chat.


To apply, email him your best full-length play (more than one character, please). He’ll share it with a few other readers on the Vetting Committee.


Our two deadlines are Dec. 31 and May 31.

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