Friday, May 27, 2016

Winners of NJ Young Playwrights Contest Announced: Professional Readings at Mayo Center June 20 and 21

Madison, NJ – Student playwrights from all over New Jersey will be converging on the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown this June 20 and 21, as the winning plays from this year’s New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest and Festival are rehearsed, revised, and then presented to the public by Writers Theatre of New Jersey’s professional actors and directors. Writers Theatre received over 350 submissions this year from young playwrights throughout the state.

These are the 2016 winning playwrights from each of the three divisions and their respective plays:

Elementary School Division:

  • The Core of the Family by David Lorenzo Whetton, a home-schooled student
  • The Value of Ten Dollars by Vanya Dhamija, Madison Junior School
  • Political Nightmare by Artha Abeysinghe, Madison Junior School

The Sleepover by Caitryn Tronoski from Long Valley Middle School received an Honorary Mention in the Elementary School division.

Junior High School Division:

  • Scout by Ava Vignone, Eisenhower Middle School
  • Tiles by Imani Pollard, Union County Academy for Performing Arts
  • Wings by Nate Shectman, Union County Academy for Performing Arts

Fear Factor by Gregory Latronica and Don't You Sleep? by Alexandria Riley, both of Eisenhower Middle School, received Honorable Mentions in the Jr. High School Division.

High School Division:

  • Corn Maze by Francesca Badalamenti, Newark Academy
  • Death Rows by Jasmine Sharma, Bergen County Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts
  • Infinite Confusion by Myriam Burger, Bergen County Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts
  • Uncovering Moonshine by Cristina Lopez, Chatham High School
  • Visible by Jessica Dell Beni, Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools - East Brunswick Campus
All of the winning plays will be presented at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey. The Elementary and Junior High School winners will have their plays performed on June 20 at 7 PM and the High School winners will have their plays performed on June 21 at 7 PM.

Tickets are free of charge, but room is limited so reserve your tickets early. For reservations, visit the Writers Theatre of New Jersey website at: or call the Writers Theatre Box Office at 973-514-1787, ext. 10.

At 33 years, the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival is the third-oldest playwriting contest for youth in the country. Since 1983, over 500 young writers have seen their scripts developed and performed by professional actors and thousands more have participated and learned to truly enjoy writing.

Participants receive written two critiques from professional playwrights, semifinalists in the contest are required to revise their scripts, and finalists work with professional mentors to continue to hone their plays prior to the final performance. Throughout the process, students’ work is treated in the same manner as submissions from professional playwrights. As one student said of what she valued most in the process: “I did this work and you took me seriously.”

Seeing their work valued and having the opportunity to learn alongside professionals helps to imbue students with a love of writing, and many playwrights continue long after the festival ends. For Christina Lopez, of Chatham High School, Uncovering Moonshine is her sixth play, and she’s won the competition once before, in 2009. Artha Abeysinghe, one of this year’s Elementary School winners, saw his play, Sibling Rivalry, win the 2015 contest.

Writers Theatre of New Jersey also continues the relationship with playwrights after the end of the contest - this year, the theatre has commissioned 2014 NJYPF winner, Alexa Derman, to write a new play to be performed by Madison High School students in the Madison Senior Recreation show this Summer.
For more information on any of Writers Theatre’s programs, please visit, or contact Writers Theatre at P.O. Box 1295, Madison, NJ, 07940, 973-514-1787 x20 or

About Writers Theatre:
Writers Theatre is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, professional (Actors’ Equity) theatre and a community of professional playwrights, theatre artists, and arts educators that provides opportunities for writers to develop their works in a nurturing environment and connect with new audiences. Our New Play Development Program is a multi-step process through which playwrights, theatre artists, and audiences collaborate to bring selected texts from rough draft to finished production.

Our Education Programs introduce students of all ages and backgrounds to the possibilities inherent in thinking and communicating creatively. Writers Theatre’s New Jersey Writers Project provides hands-on workshops led by professional writers-in-residence to students in schools and community centers throughout the state. We place an equal emphasis on Development and Educational activities, and encourage our community and audiences to participate fully in both.

We are honored that, every year since 2003, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) has designated Writers Theatre as a Major Arts Institution. This means that the Council considers Writers Theatre to be “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 F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc., Dramatist Guild Fund, Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, The Shubert Foundation, The Victoria Foundation, and many corporations, foundations and individuals.

Writers Theatre is a member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the National New Play Network, and Madison Arts & Culture Alliance.

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