Monday, March 28, 2016

Theater Project's 2016 Young Playwrights Award winners

Four Local High School Students Receive Joseph Curka Playwrighting Prize at Young Playwrights Competition; Seven Receive Honorable Mentions at THEATER PROJECT event.

CRANFORD, NJ. – Eleven very talented students were honored at THE THEATER PROJECT’S fourteenth annual Young Playwrights Competition Performance and Awards Ceremony on Saturday, March 19.  The four prize winners received cash prizes and saw their work performed by the professional actors of THE THEATER PROJECT at the 2 PM ceremony, held at the Cranford Community Center. Seven additional writers were presented with honorable mention citations and gift certificates.
This year’s winners were:
The team of Ryan Cook, Derek Crosby, Jack McManus
Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School
Imani Pollard
Alessandra Sommer
Union County Academy for Performing Arts
Betsy Zaubler
Newark Academy
Jordan Goldberg
Bergen County Academies
Mary Omilian
Moorestown Friends School
Alessandra Coccaro, Ciaran Dougherty, Kasia Kapustka, Kaylee Parkhill, Noah Sokolsky
Union County Academy for Performing Arts

The Joseph Curka Prize received by the students honors the memory of Mrs. Marion Curka’s late husband.  Mrs. Curka is a long-time friend and supporter of The Theater Project, an award winning professional company. The Theater Project also presents free monthly readings of new plays by NJ authors at the Cranford Community Center, sponsored by Friends of the Cranford Library.

The competition was originally inspired by a generous donation from Bill Mesce, Jr. who addressed the audience.  Linden resident Mesce is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and novelist. His most recent book: NO RULE THAT ISN’T A DARE:  HOW WRITERS CONNECT WITH READERS is published by Serving House Books. His 2015 World War II novel, A COLD AND DISTANT PLACE, has just been announced as a finalist for the Edward Hoffer Award’s Montaigne Medal for “most thought-provoking books” from the field of small and academic presses.

Immediately prior to the awards ceremony, The Theater Project provided free tutorials for any interested entrant in this year’s competition. Each young author was offered a half hour script consultation with one of the adult playwrights and directors from the Theater Project. Young writers also had the opportunity to meet with other contestants and the actors who were performing the winning plays.

The goal of the competition is to encourage the next generation of theater practitioners and audience by honoring their work and bringing it to life. The Theater Project is committed to the concept that participation in the arts builds fundamental skills in reading, writing and critical thinking, crucial at all ages. Information about how to participate in next year’s event is available at

PHOTO CREDIT: Rajko Sommer
STANDING: Ciaran Dougherty, Noah Sokolosky, Kaylee Parkhill, Alessandra Sommer ,Alessandra Coccaro, Kasia Kapustka, Imani Pollard
SITTING: Betsy Zaubler, Ryan Cook, Derek Crosby, Jack McManus, Mary Omilian

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