About Urban Playwrights United (UPU)
The word "urban" in itself stirs varying definitions and emotions—sometimes positive, sometimes stereotypical. The textbook definition of the word "urban", according to dictionary.com, is "in relating to, or characteristic of a city or town." For many, the word urban relates to experiences of black inner city Americans. Urban theater in the theatrical arena denotes stage performances that focus on the "black experience". For the most part, urban theater is not a recognized, nor respected, expression of theater in the traditional theater world. The vast majority of "urban" playwrights have no formal education, training, background or technical knowledge of the theatrical world. So naturally, while these independent, mostly self-funded producers have been creating shows and thrilling audiences for years, there was no outlet for help, nor support, from other arenas.
That's how Vanessa Lynn felt when she tried to mount her show years ago. Thus, Urban Playwrights United was founded.
The fact of the matter is thousands of "urban plays" take place in small community centers, houses of worship, and even thousand-seat major venues across the country every weekend. This has been the case for years. Urban theater is here, so Urban Playwrights United was founded to assist passionate individuals with excelling in their craft professionally. Since our inception in 2009, we found that information that was presented reached far beyond the scope of urban theater. We’ve attracted everyone from book authors and educators, to traditional theater professionals with formal training.
The Urban Playwrights United mission is clear: we are here to "Cultivate, Empower and Connect." We respect and believe in the individuality of every writer and producer to tell their own story. It’s not our job to change their story; it’s our job to equip them to have professional, profitable productions that have a positive effect on their audiences.
We have grown and experienced so much success collectively. Over the years, UPU has connected with independent distributors and secured 11 deals for our playwrights’ DVDs. We’ve also competed in many theater festivals, where our members have gained exposure and success through connecting with professionals who are at the top of their industry. In addition, members have formed numerous collaborations on projects and long-standing business relationships.
Launching from 2017 (our 8th year and our "new beginning"), our foundation will always be theater; however, our growing membership has expanded into television projects, books, films and web series. The foundation of UPU's focus is on story structure, development and cultivation as a writer, creating great stories, organization and team building. This foundation can build a multiplicity of houses. Moving forward, we will offer resources and information to produce stories in all formats. Beyond the wealth of knowledge that has been transferred down through the years, UPU has truly built a network of support that has become family.
Quintessentially, UPU is a hub for creative writers and producers from all walks of life, every area of experience, from many branches of entertainment. Our accepting, non-judgemental atmosphere makes the most novices of writers, to the veteran who may be ready to give up on their dreams, feel welcome into a network—a family of like-minded, positive individuals who have the best interest of everyone’s success in mind.