Actor-director Richard Wilson and, rather unusually, footballer Tony Adams are clubbing together today to launch the Royal Court's annual Young Writers Festival, IMPRINT, which runs this year in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs from 18 October to 23 November 2002.

Best known as ex-England and Arsenal captain, Adams is also a keen theatregoer and Royal Court regular. He's previously lent his support to Louise Ramsden, who's play Black Snot is featured in this year's festival. (Coincidentally, another play, Parallel Lines by 16-year-old Miranda Howard Williams, concerns two Arsenal supporters.)

Over the next six weeks, ten new plays by writers aged between 13 and 26, will be divided into two separate programmes and showcased as part of IMPRINT. More than 400 scripts were submitted for consideration by aspiring playwrights from across the country.

Opening Programme One from 18 October to 2 November 2002 is Chloe Moss' A Day in Dull Armour, the tale of checkout girl Tracey, who, while dreaming of big cities, college and a boyfriend who really listens, finds surprise companionship in oddball co-worker Tony. It's supported by 15-year-old Richard Leighton's short play Graffiti. Both are directed by actor and director Richard Wilson, an associate of the Royal Court.

Programme Two, running from 7 to 23 November 2002, features two debuts. Just a Bloke written by 17 year old David Watson and directed by Ramin Gray, is the story of Jake, an ex-artist from North London whose relationship with family members - his female cousin in particular - is far more complex than it appears on the surface. It's followed by Following this is 26-year-old Emma Rosoman's The One with the Oven, directed by Joseph Hill-Gibbins. In Rosoman's first professional play, Sarah - whose small-town life in Bromley largely revolves around getting drunk, karaoke and small-minded friends - wonders if there's any more to life.

Supporting these debut productions are Parallel Lines and 22-year-old Will Evans' Night Owls, both of which are directed by Ramin Gray.

Throughout the festival, there will also be a number of rehearsed readings showcasing premiere pieces by young writers: Mother's Ruin by David Varela, The Little Ark by Sean Buckley, Arrival with Baggage by Dawn King and Ramsden's Black Snot.

Opened in 1956, the Royal Court has always had a strong reputation for emphasising the writer's role as fundamental to the creation of theatre. With the theatre's first Young Writers Festival in 1973, and a redirection of artistic policy in 1994, the Royal Court now has an established reputation for supporting and promoting new playwrights, launching the careers of countless writers including Conor McPherson, Kevin Elyot, Nick Grosso and Anthony Neilson.

- by Peggy Nuttall