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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Theater Project’s 2017 Young Playwrights Performance and Awards Ceremony



Three Local High School Students Receive Awards at Young Playwrights Competition;

Nine Receive Honorable Mentions at THEATER PROJECT event.

Twelve very talented students will be honored at THE THEATER PROJECT’S fifteenth annual Young Playwrights Competition Performance and Awards Ceremony on Saturday, March 18, at the Cranford Community Center. These young writers represent ten different high schools and eight different towns. The three prize winners will see their work performed by the professional actors of The Theater Project; honorable mentions will be to be presented with citations and gift certificates. The event is free and open to the public.

First Prize: Jasmine Sharma Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, NJ

Second Prize: Jacqueline Yang Northern Highlands Regional HS, Allendale, NJ

Third Prize: Kushal Dhungana Livingston High School, Livingston, NJ

Honorable Mentions:

Natalie Lifson The Pingry School, Basking Ridge, NJ

Hanna Kdiry Fort Lee High School, NJ

Payton Crispe Ocean County Vocational Technical School: Performing Arts Academy, Lakehurst, NJ

Tennessee Woodiel Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ

Margaret Condon Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School

Liana Runcie Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ

Zachary Espiritu Regis High School, NYC

Haley Correa Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, Elizabeth, NJ

Juan Garcia Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, Elizabeth, NJ

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 presenting events in Maplewood, Cranford, Union and Rahway, including free monthly readings of new plays by NJ authors at the Cranford Community Center, sponsored by Friends of the Cranford Library.

The March 18 performance and awards ceremony will be hosted by Theater Project artistic director Mark Spina, and award-winning playwright, screenwriter and novelist, Bill Mesce, Jr, of Linden. 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 provides free tutorials for any interested entrant in this year’s competition. Each young author is offered a half hour script consultation with one of the adult playwrights and directors from the Theater Project. Young writers also have the opportunity to meet with other contestants and the actors 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

WHAT: 2017 Young Playwrights Performance and Awards Ceremony

WHO: The Theater Project

WHEN: 2 PM, Saturday, March 18.

WHERE: Cranford Community Center, 224 Walnut Ave, Cranford, NJ

TIX: First come first served; admission is free

PHOTOS of the three winners:

Jasmine Sharma (1st place), Jacqueline Yang (2nd place), Kushal Dhungana (3rd Place)

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