Friday, December 17, 2010


Revision is an important part of the writing process. However, as we've found for some of our young playwrights, it can also be the most painful. That makes sense. You've put in so much time and effort to get your play together. Everything feels right and after all that exertion the last thing that you want to do is to start making cuts, or additions, or completely rewrite certain sections. I've been there, too - I get it. But remember that a play is written to be performed, or to think of it in more general terms, a play is written to be shared with an audience. To make the revision process a bit more enjoyable you can try a couple of things to see how an intended audience is reacting to the work.

Critique sessions (or "contructive criticism" sessions) where others read your work and provide a response can be nauseating, especially when the responses become anything but constructive. However, as you are in control of how your script is written, you can also exercise some control over the kind of critique that you receive.

First, be sure that the people who you ask to read your play are those whose opinions you trust. It is equally important that these readers are people who will speak to you honestly and respectfully. That seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to critique you should never take anything for granted.

Second, ask those who read your play to provide you with responses to specific things about the play. For example, you might be unsure about a particular event in the play. You may want to provide your readers with a question about that event, or simply ask them to tell you their reactions to it. There is also a great protocol for feedback created by Liz Lerman, which can be found on her website at I've used the four steps of Lerman's process as a framework for talkback discussions of new plays both with students in a classroom and with audiences after a show. I find that it creates a respectful atmosphere where the audience is free to express their reactions and opinions, but always mindful of the story as the playwright has written it.

Once you have a draft of your script that you feel comfortable with, pull together a handful of friends and/or family and read through the play. I find that a group of four (2 male, 2 female) tends to provide enough variety to cover the character population in most students' plays. Of course if you have a play of all female or all male characters, you may want to adjust the numbers.

Assign roles to each actor and have them read the play out loud. I find it best to do this sitting at a table. This way the actors don't need to worry about acting out the character. At this point, you just want to hear the play.

I strongly suggest that the playwright does not read anything in the script, with the possibile exception of the stage directions. When you are reading a character, it can be difficult to hear everything that has been written, so try to fight the urge to perform.

These two approaches should provide you with some useful feedback about your play. They may also help you identify certain parts of the script that could use some revision. Perhaps there was a section that your readers/actors had a lot of questions about? Maybe a suggestion was made that you find would help strengthen the play and/or take it in a direction that you want. Remember that in the end, no matter who the people are providing you with feedback, this is YOUR play. It is your voice and your ideas, so be sure that you are comfortable with it in the end.

Hope that's helpful. Happy (re)writing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2011 Young Playwrights, Inc. National Playwriting Competition

Hey New Jersey Young Playwrights! Please take note of another great playwriting competition for which you are eligible:

Young Playwrights, Inc. (YPI) in New York is now accepting scripts for their annual national playwriting contest. The YPI contest was the first of its kind in the United States and the inspiration for the festival in New Jersey and many more across the country. YPI runs a fantastic program and I want to encourage you to submit your script(s) to them in addition to sending them here to us.

Visit their website at for submission guidelines and additional info. Deadline for entries is January 3, 2011.

And as a reminder, the submission deadlines to the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival (NJYPF) are also in January 2011: all high school submissions (grades 10-12 in the High School, Rewrites, and Podstages divisions) are due by January 14; Elementary (grades 4-6) and Junior HS (grades 7-9) plays are due by January 21. All NJYPF submissions must be done online at

I'll be in touch again soon with some writing ideas. In the meantime, happy writing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Now accepting submissions - 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival

The 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival is now accepting submissions! Please visit the Festival website to begin the submission process -

Remember that you must complete TWO steps for a complete submission:
  1. Submit your script as a Word or PDF file to with a subject line that includes YOUR LAST NAME - TITLE of PLAY - DIVISION ENTERED.
  2. Complete the information/title page at our SurveyMonkey link - Click here to take survey
High School, Rewrites and Podstages entries must be received not later than 11:59pm on Friday, January 14, 2011.

Junior High School and Elementary School entries must be received not later than 11:59pm on Friday, January 21, 2011.

We look forward to receiving your play. Happy writing!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pictures from the 2010 NJ Young Playwrights Festival

This took entirely too long to put up here. Glad to be back... Enjoy the pictures... 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Contest info coming soon!

Final Draft by Steven Maier

A Sister's Gift by Sheli Paige Frank

Why You by Justine DeSilva

Tempus Fugit by James Just

Thanks to Walter Rodriguez for the use of some of his photos.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


We had a great time presenting the work of 12 new playwrights at the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival last Monday and Tuesday. Thank you to all of the actors, directors, crew and Kean TMPO staff who made this possible. And of course, congratulations again to the playwrights! Please continue to write and create.

The camera wasn't working too well during the tech rehearsals on May 17, but one of our actors is also a photographer, so I'm working with him to get some pictures ready for the site. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 2 - Blocking

Sunday was about becoming familiar with the newest edits from the high school playwrights. The casts also spent the day giving the scripts new life by staging the work. To say anything more would be redundant. Enjoy the pictures!
 Tempus Fugit by James Just.
 A Sister's Gift by Sheli Paige Frank.

Playwright Sheli Paige Frank and director Maryna Harrison during rehearsal.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 1 - Read-thrus

Yesterday was the first day of rehearsals for the Festival. We met first with the high school playwrights and read through and discussed their scripts. The afternoon was one of ideas, questions, and new discoveries of each play.

Cast 1 discusses their scripts, Final Draft by Steven Maier (pictured at center) and A Sister's Gift by Sheli Paige Frank (not pictured). Also in this photo are actors Dan Bartkewicz, Virginia Bosch, and director Maryna Harrison.

Director Jim Ligon (center) discusses Tempus Fugit by James Just (at left) with Cast 2. Also in this picture are actor/ASM Amalia Schiff (far left) and actor Victor Martinez (at right, back to camera). Why You by Justine DeSilva will also be performed by Cast 2.

The playwrights went home and worked on revisions to the plays well into the early hours of this morning. We look forward to getting these new drafts on their feet in Day 2.

Later in the afternoon, the cast for the reading of Junior HS and Elementary plays read through the eight scripts. We made a number of slight changes and edits - primarily to the stage directions - in an effort to streamline the way the play reads without the actions and scenery that the playwrights have envisioned. The challenge for us is to use the stage directions almost as narration or as a storyteller might. We're excited to see how that turns out on Monday morning at the Festival!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Anxiously awaiting tomorrow

Here is one of our rehearsal rooms waiting for the first read-through tomorrow.

We can't wait to get started!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last minute preparations

Today is the deadline for all things production - prop lists, program notes, etc. Since we present the Festival as a series of readings, production elements like scenery, costumes, and props are kept to a minimum. We find that this simplified way of producing a play really focuses attention to the story and characters that each playwright has created.

I'm directing the reading of Junior HS and Elementary school plays and need to do one last read of the scripts to finalize the small props and costume pieces that are necessary to the story. As a reading, the plays will be presented with the actors standing at music stands with scripts at the ready. This may sound easy with memorization and blocking not being major concerns; however, the performance relies heavily on the actors' interpretations. A few costume pieces or props (hats, glasses, wands, etc.) give just enough detail to further spark the audience's view of the story in their imagination.

The High School plays are done as staged readings, so there will be blocking and some technical elements in those presentations. Again, this is all very limited so that the playwrights' stories and the audience's imaginations have the focus.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Almost time!

Not counting today, there are only two days left until rehearsals begin for the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival! On Saturday, we will conduct the first table reading of each high school play with the playwrights present. In the afternoon, we shift to a reading of the 8 plays from the Junior HS and Elementary divisions. Unfortunately, time and space being what they are we are not able to host the Junior HS and Elementary playwrights for this event. Perhaps in the near future!

I will try to provide updates throughout the Festival process, so check back regularly... better yet, there are still seats available for both performances:
  • Junior HS/Elementary reading - Monday, May 17 @ 10:00 am
  • High School staged readings - Tuesday, May 18 @ 10:00 am
Admission is free, but reservations are required. If you are interested in attending on either, or both, of these days, please contact me at and I will add your name to the list.

Friday, May 7, 2010

NJ Young Playwright's success in Bakers Plays contest

We've been informed that Requiem by Samantha Berstler, a winning play in last year's NJ Young Playwrights Festival 2009 - High School division, was selected as a Finalist in the Baker's Plays Contest this year. Ms. Berstler has since rewritten this play into a 3-act full-length piece.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Casting complete; 12 days until first rehearsal

We're all set with our cast, which will be a great mix of actors from our theatre, actors who are new to us, and college theatre students from schools in New Jersey and New York.

Today marks two weeks before the first Festival performance - the reading of winning plays from the Junior HS and Elementary divisions - however, rehearsals start May 15, which is one week from this Saturday!

Stay tuned to the blog for updates over the next 12 days. I will also be posting throughout the Festival weekend.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NJ Governor's Awards in Arts Education 2010

Tonight are the annual NJ Governor's Awards in Arts Education. Congratulations again to our High School Division winners who will receive this award at the 5:00 ceremony at the NJ State Museum in Trenton:

Steven Maier, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
Sheli Paige Frank, 10th grade, Tenafly HS
Justine DeSilva, 10th grade, Bergen County Academies
James Just, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies

I look forward to meeting you and your families there in a few hours!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Casting the Festival

Casting has gone fairly quickly this year and I'm very pleased with the cast so far. There are a few folks with whom I need to follow up next week, but it looks like everything should be set very soon. This year will include a nice mix of actors from Playwrights Theatre and local college theatre departments. We will also have a group of assistant stage mangers (ASMs) for the first time this year.

More updates to come in the next few weeks!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Winners and Honorable Mentions of the 27th annual NJ Young Playwrights Festival

The following scripts were selected as winners in this year's NJ Young Playwrights Festival. Plays were selected without knowledge of the playwrights' school or grade. The plays below are listed in no particular order.

High School
  • Final Draft by Steven Maier, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
  • A Sister's Gift by Sheli Paige Frank, 10th grade, Tenafly HS
  • Why You by Justine DeSilva, 10th grade, Bergen County Academies
  • Tempus Fugit by James Just, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
Junior HS
  • The Write Way by Cory Gagliano, 9th grade, Mount Saint Mary Academy
  • The Tangerine Dress by Janine Puhak, 9th grade, Mount Saint Mary Academy
  • It's Good to Be Queen by Laura O'Shea, 9th grade, Mount Saint Mary Academy
  • iLove by Hannah Rubenstein and Rachel Chowdhury, 8th grade, Millburn MS
  • The Million Dollar Cake by Taylor Sorensen, Emily Budine, Maggie Spector-Williams, Alex Vaporis, 5th grade, Spring Garden School
  • The Haunted House by Sarah Vincent, 5th grade, St. Vincent Martyr School
  • Amanda & the Bully by Kiersten Farrell, 4th grade, Milltown Primary School
  • Express from Denver to Geartown by Aidan Carney, 4th grade, Lafayette ES

There were also 5 plays chosen to receive Honorable Mentions. While these plays will not be performed, the playwrights will receive certificates to acknowledge this accomplishment. The plays are…
  • John by Adam Milano, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
  • Waiting for Room by Katelyn Diekhaus, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
  • The List by Andrew Singer and David Talpalar, 8th grade, Millburn MS
  • Borders by Joseph Politano, 6th grade, Orange Avenue School
  • The Adventures of Boyle and Fried by Daud Shad, 5th grade, Wildwood ES
Congratulations to everyone who wrote and submitted a play to the Festival this year. We look forward to working with the winning playwrights on their scripts in preparation for the Festival on May 17 and 18. Critique forms are still being collected from our readers and should be sent to playwrights by early May.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

May I have the envelope please!

There it is, the folder containing the scripts from the Final Round and the overall results of the NJ Young Playwrights Festival. I met with the Selection Panel last Friday and contacted the winners of the High School Division on Tuesday afternoon. Junior HS and Elementary winners should hear from my by next Monday at the latest.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Malware removed!

My apologies for the brief take-over of the site by a malware program this weekend. I've deleted the offending gadget from the site and all should be well.

Check back for annoucements about the Festival in a few days!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Opportunities for continued writing...

As the NJ Young Playwrights Festival enters the final round of judging this week, I wanted to inform you of two additional writing opportunities for students that have been brought to my attention. Here is some very basic information about these programs taken from their websites:

2010 VSA arts Playwright Discovery
  • This is a contest sponsored by VSA arts, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Students in grades 6-12 are encouraged to write an original one-act play with the theme of "disability."
  • One play will be selected for performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and the winning playwright receives a $2,000.00 prize and travel to Washington to see the play performed.

Script Frenzy Young Writers Program
  • This is not a contest, but a sort-of online script writing marathon from April 1-30.
  • Open to students ages 17 and under (ages 18 and above should check out the Script Frenzy Challenge at
  • Student writers set a page count goal and write every day in April to try and achieve that goal.
  • Options exist for teachers to enroll classes of students into the program.
  • The website has great writing resources, too.

Check out both website and pay close attention to the guidelines and requirements for each. Do not hesitate to contact the programs with any questions, or to get more details.

Happy writing!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Madison Young Playwrights Festival

The 24th annual Madison Young Playwrights Festival is open to the public. There will be two performances on Saturday, March 6 - one group of plays begins at 1:00 pm; the group at 3:00. To purchase tickets please call the Playwrights Theatre Box Office at 973-514-1787, ext. 34.

Congratulations to all of the Madison Young Playwrights! We've enjoyed working on your plays this past week and look forward to the new works that you will create in the future.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Thank you to everyone who submitted a play to the Festival this year. Congratulations to you, too!

I know there were some glitches in the new submission process, but we were able to get everyone squared away and in the end over 350 plays were received! That's an excellent number and I can't wait to see how things turn out.

As I write this, all plays are currently out with the contest readers of the first round. These readers will select scripts that will advance from the grouping that they received into the second round. Given the number of scripts received we should reach the final round sometime in late March. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted every couple of weeks.

Thanks again!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Deadline tonight!

Just a reminder that the extended deadline for JUNIOR HS and ELEMENTARY scripts is this evening, January 21st at 11:59 p.m. Please note that the online Title Page Information survey will close after that deadline and submissions will no longer be accepted.

If you have already submitted your script, please be sure that you entered your information for the Title Page.

If you have completed the Title Page, be sure that you have sent your script to As of my last count, there are Title Page entries that do not have corresponding scripts.

Happy writing!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Junior HS and Elementary deadline extended!

Due to overwhelming interest in the Junior HS and Elementary school divisions of the Contest, we are extending the submission deadline to THURSDAY, January 21 at 11:59 p.m.

It is our hope that this extra time will ease up the number of submissions being sent at one time and allow our email server to run more efficiently. Therefore, schools and students who have their scripts ready now should submit their work immediately, please.

Again, be sure that the subject line of your email includes your LAST NAME - TITLE - DIVISION entered and that information ONLY.

Playwrights who have already submitted their work to these divisions, but would still like to continue working on them, can submit a revised draft by the new deadline. If you chose this option, please note that in the subject line of your email with the word REVISED in capital letters.

Thanks and happy writing!

Friday, January 8, 2010

High School plays due TODAY!

It has been a busy month for me and from the number of scripts that have been submitted already, it looks like it has been a busy month of writing for you, too.

Submissions to the High School, Rewrites, and Podstages divisions are due today, Friday, January 8, no later than 11:59 pm. Scripts that are received with a time stamp later than that will not be entered into the Contest.

Since we are collecting scripts in a new way for the first time this year, I want to remind you of some important steps to the submission process:

1) Submitting your work requires the entry of information in two different places: the online Title Page Information survey and via email to Please use the NJ Young Playwrights Festival website to access both steps of this process - If you do not complete both steps, your work will not be entered into the Contest.

2) The contact information collected at the Title Page Information Survey is required for each play, so that we may get in touch with a playwright(s) with reader feedback and other Festival-related correspondence. The information provided does not need to be a personal address, but can be contact information for a sponsoring teacher at the playwright's school.

3) The subject line of the email to which your script is attached should only have the following information in this format:

Your Last Name - TITLE OF PLAY - Division entered

Please do not include any other information in the subject line, or body of the email. Thanks!

3) Multiple authors are acceptable for a script submission; however, the number of co-writers is limited to five (5) per script. When completing the Title Page Information Survey, please Use the first two entry questions to enter the names of each co-writer for the script.

4) When in doubt, send all emails (scripts, questions, etc.) to The other email accounts listed on the website do not have the memory space to accept scripts. Sending a script to any address other than may not reach us in time for the deadline.

I think that covers most of the questions that are currently out there. Again, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that you have.

Happy writing... and submitting!