Monday, January 2, 2017

The Theater Project’s 15th annual Young Playwrights Competition Accepts Entries through January 20

The Theater Project is once again reaching out to creative young people in its 15th annual Young Playwrights Competition. Winners receive cash prizes and see their work performed by professional actors at the awards ceremony in March of 2017.

The submission deadline is January 20, 2017. New Jersey’s high school playwrights submit their short plays at web site, where they will find all the necessary entry guidelines and formatting rules.

“We look forward to inspiring and being inspired,” said artistic director Mark Spina. “Every year, we are energized by the incredible talent and creativity in the entries, and every year we hope to inspire more young people to write and be creative by providing a showcase for their work.”

Last year, thirteen young people were honored in the March 2016 awards ceremony:

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 AcademiesMary Omilian
Moorestown Friends SchoolAlessandra Coccaro, Ciaran Dougherty, Kasia Kapustka, Kaylee Parkhill, Noah Sokolsky
Union County Academy for Performing Arts

The Theater Project is an award-winning professional company in residence at The Burgdorff Cultural Center in Maplewood, NJ. Several past winners of the Playwrights Competition have gone on to pursue degrees in theater and playwriting, and they often return to The Theater Project to present prizes and share their journeys with the newest honorees.

One such example is Jake Brandman, a graduate of Westfield High School and former Young Playwrights prize winner. He is now living and working in New York City, having received a BFA in Dramatic Writing and an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts. Jake’s work has been performed at venues ranging from Joe’s Pub to the Laurie Beechman Theater to the Library at Lincoln Center. His recent works include “The Bushwickers: A Play about Superheroes” and “The Music of Erich Zann.”

Jake is a frequent guest speaker at the awards ceremony, where he shares his experiences and takes questions from the younger writers.

"Working with the Theater Project on the Young Playwright's Competition is always one of the highlights of my year,” Jake said. “It's such a treat to show these enthusiastic and talented high school students that their hard work is both deserving of celebration and worthy of being shared with the community."

On the day of the ceremony, the judges and members of The Theater Project’s Adult Playwrights Workshop also offer half-hour tutorials to any interested contest entrant.

“We want to make sure that kids know how appreciated their creative efforts are by showcasing them in front of the community,” says artistic director Spina. “In tough economic times, the arts sometimes get short changed as people struggle to make ends meet and schools see their budgets shrink. But when kids lose out on arts experiences, they miss opportunities to develop critical thinking and reading skills that are needed now more than ever.”

Complete competition guidelines are available at


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