Thursday, April 30, 2015

Playwrights Theatre Announces the High School and Elementary Winners of the 32nd Annual New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest


Playwrights Theatre is pleased to announce the High School and Elementary School winners of the 32nd Annual New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest. From the 345 plays submitted by young writers throughout the state, a panel of theatre professionals has selected four High School plays and three Elementary Schools plays. Due to the overwhelming amount of scripts received in the Junior High category, those winners will be announced in May. In each category, selection was blind; plays were selected without knowledge of playwrights' schools, grade or background.

The 32nd Annual New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest Festival will be held on June 1 and 2, 2015, at the Barn Theatre on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Select plays from this festival may be reprised at Playwrights Theatre’s nationally-recognized Forum Reading Series in January 2015. This reading series brings together writers from all over the United States.

The Elementary and Junior High School plays will be presented on Monday, June 1, 2015, at 7pm and the High School plays on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, at 7pm. The readings will feature professional actors and directors and reservations can be made by calling 973-514-1787 X21, via email or online at Admission to the readings is free, but reservations are required, as seating is limited.

“At 33 years, the New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest & Festival is one of the oldest young playwrights programs in the United States. That is a long and rich history of encouraging students’ imaginations and critical thinking through the performing arts. This year we sought to further immerse playwrights in the play development process by requiring revisions to the scripts that reached the final round of judging in each division,” said Jim DeVivo, Director of Education at Playwrights Theatre. “This not only brought about an improved batch of plays, but also extended the educational function of the Festival beyond the playwrights whose scripts were ultimately selected for production. We have an excellent group of plays to present this year, and I look forward to working with those playwrights in the weeks leading up to the Festival.”

In the High School Division (grades 10-12), the winners are:
Pretty Girl by Laura Diorio, Middletown High School South, Middletown
Listen by Jack Kimber, Chatham High School, Chatham
Worn Thin by Gabrielle Poisson, Newark Academy, Livingston
Thanksgiving Surprise by Betsy Zaubler, Newark Academy, Livingston.

The aforementioned winners will receive a New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education, which is co-sponsored by New Jersey Arts Education Partnership and the New Jersey Department of Education, at the Governor’s Awards Ceremony on May 27, 2015, at the Patriot’s Theatre in the War Memorial in Trenton. The Governor’s Award is the highest honor in arts education in New Jersey.

“Once again, the response to the NJYPC has been great, and we find this encouraging, that students are interested in the art and craft of playwriting, and are willing to share their work,” said John Pietrowski, Artistic Director of Playwrights Theatre. “We are equally encouraged to find that there are numerous schools that include playwriting in their curriculum.”

In the Elementary School Division (grades 4-6), the winners are:
Sibling Rivalry by Artha Abeysinghe, Torey J Sabatini School, Madison
Storm in a Cup by Frances Wan, St. Vincent Martyr School
Stitches – Dun, Dun, Dun by Josephine Walker, Torey J Sabatini School, Madison.

This is the 32nd year celebration of the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival. Playwrights Theatre is reaching out to former winners to find out where their lives have taken them. Many have gone on to pursue careers as published prose and poetry writers as well as playwrights and journalists. Others have become have become lawyers, professors, and comic book illustrators.

About the High School Playwrights:

Laura Diorio is a junior at Middletown High School South and has been a member of the Theatre Program since she was a freshman. She has starred in multiple productions at MASS, including their most recent spring musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, in which she played Kitty. Earlier this year, she was given the unique opportunity of being cast as Kismine Washington in an original stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, written by her drama teacher and director, Alexis Kozak. At MASS, she has also participated as a writer and director in the school’s One Page and Ten Page Play Festivals. Laura has been affiliated with companies like The Count Basie Theatre, Two River Theatre, Phoenix Productions, NJ Repertory Company, and Garden State Players. She has taken lessons in acting, dance, vocals, and piano since she was a child. Ms. Diorio’s play was written with a generation of teenagers in mind. Its purpose was to relate to teens and show them that they do not need anyone’s approval but their own in order to happy. Life may not be a fairytale, but you can still make your own happy ending. You don’t need a Prince to do it for you.

Jack Kimber is a 10th grader at Chatham High School. He wrote his play “Listen” in a Creative Writing Class. Jack mainly enjoys writing screenplays, but also likes writing short stories and some poetry. In addition, Jack is part of his school’s soccer and track teams as well as school newspaper, Key Club, and Editor of the Chinese Club. Besides writing, in his spare time, Jack likes to play guitar and is an avid snowboarder, skateboarder and wakeboarder.

Gabrielle Poisson is a sophomore at Newark Academy in New Jersey. She loves writing plays, poems, and short stories. Her play, “Worn Thin,” won the 2015 Playwrights Theatre 32nd Annual New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest and will be performed at Playwrights Theatre NJYP Festival on June 2, 2015. Her short story, “Shadow Friends,” won First Place in the Writing Conference 2015 annual writing contest and was published in the Writers Slate. In addition, her flash fiction, plays, poetry and personal essays have won Scholastic Silver Keys and Honorable Mentions. Along with writing, Gabrielle is passionate about singing and acting. She has participated in several honor choirs, including the NJ All-State High School Mixed Chorus, NJ High School Regional Choir, and Newark Academy’s award-winning select chamber group, Academy Voices. Gabrielle has performed in numerous musicals. This year she was cast as “Little Sally” in the school’s production of the musical, “Urinetown.” Gabrielle is extremely excited for the opportunity to participate in the process of staging her play.

Betsy Zaubler is sophomore at Newark Academy. Betsy loves all aspects of drama, most especially playwriting and directing. Last year, she participated in a two week playwriting course at her school, “From Page to Stage: The One-Act Play,” and wrote a play, The Start of Something Great, reimagining the day John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. This year, in her Creative Writing class, she wrote the play Thanksgiving Surprise. Betsy is currently writing a children’s fairy tale and is looking forward to directing this original fairy tale next winter at Studio Players, a community theater in Montclair, NJ. She recently directed The Quest: A Fairy Tale with Attitude at Studio Players and has appeared in three shows there.

Betsy recently won her school’s Poetry Out Loud competition and was a finalist at her regional competition. She is very excited to complete the Teen Weekend Conservatory at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City this May. She intends to continue her acting training there next year, where she plans to study advanced acting technique and acting in Shakespeare. Her other passion is studying Spanish and Spanish culture, and she will be participating in a second language immersion in Spain this summer, where she will live with a Spanish family and take language and culture courses.
For more information about Playwrights Theatre, visit or call (973) 514-1787.

Playwrights Theatre’s New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest receives generous funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Investors Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, and the Provident Bank Foundation. The New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival and New Jersey Young Playwrights Program are registered to the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

About Playwrights Theatre:

Founded in 1986, Playwrights Theatre is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit professional theatre and arts education institution dedicated to developing and nurturing the dramatic imagination of artists, students, and audiences. Our New Play Program, which includes the The New Jersey Emerging Women Playwrights Program and the Literary Artist Fellowship Program creates development opportunities for professional writers through readings, workshops and productions, and invites audiences to participate in authentic feedback experiences. Our New Jersey Writers Project, Poetry Out Loud, New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest and Festival, and Creative Arts Academy programs provide a comprehensive and hands-on arts education experience to over 31,000 students, Pre-K through adult.

Writers in the New Play Program are drawn from across the country, including our affiliation with the National New Play Network, a nation-wide group of theatres dedicated to the development and production of new work. Teaching Artists in our Education Programs are professional artists working in their field in the New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. From 2003-2016, we have been designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (along with only five other theatres: The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, George Street Playhouse, McCarter Theatre Center, Two River Theatre and Paper Mill Playhouse) as “an anchor institution that contributes vitally to the quality of life in New Jersey.”

Funding for our activities comes from: the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Community Foundation, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc., Dramatist Guild Fund, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, The Shubert Foundation, Novartis, The Victoria Foundation, and many corporations, foundations and individuals.
Playwrights Theatre is a member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the National New Play Network, and Madison Arts & Culture Alliance.

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