Day jobs. Who needs ’em? If you’re a playwright trying to make it in Chicago, you do. From left: Emily Schwartz, Ira Gamerman, Laura Jacqmin

Three playwrights. Each under 30. Give them seven minutes and a license to experiment, and what do you get? Dated, a diatribe on getting dumped via Facebook. Parkersburg, a mini-thriller about three women and a canary in a coal mine. And Cowboy Birthday Party, a tale about a rollicking night around a campfire. Out of 400 submissions, the three scripts were among a handful selected for this year’s Sketchbook, the annual short play festival run by Collaboraction (starts May 15th at Steppenwolf’s Garage; And while the subjects vary as widely as the writers’ personalities, the three up-and-comers—Ira Gamerman, Laura Jacqmin, and Emily Schwartz—all have one thing in common: They moved to Chicago because it is fertile territory for aspiring young playwrights. “In New York, it’s much harder for new work to break in,” says Jacqmin, who in May opens another new work, 10 Virgins, across town at Chicago Dramatists.


Photograph: Saverio Truglia; Hair and makeup: Morgan Blaul; Wardrobe: Julie Korman