Thursday, December 22, 2011

Words of wisdom

A few days before Thanksgiving, I sat in on a playwriting residency being taught by Ben Clawson, one of our teaching artists. He was leading the class in a session where each student pitched an idea for their story and discussed the possibilities (and any questions) with the class. Ben gave some great advice to the students that may be helpful throughout the writing process, but especially so if you are experiencing a block, or still do not know where to begin. I asked Ben if I can share these with you. Here are a few...

"You're telling a story that you want to hear. You are your first audience member."
Often some of the first questions and inevitable uncertainties expressed by our young playwrights include what to write about and whether their idea will be "good enough". The answer to that depends upon the intended audience. If you work from the view that you are the first and most important audience for your play, write one that you enjoy and it will certainly be "good enough". Plus...

"There's the story and then how you present it."
Chances are that when you first sit down to write, you already have a story idea in mind. For example, you might describe the idea by saying: "This a story about a girl who..." or "This is a story that takes place in..."

No matter what idea you start with there are likely to be infinate directions that it can take. This can feel daunting, which may lead to burnout, or writer's block, or an anxiety that you won't be able to start... or finish. If you set some parameters for yourself with number of characters, scenes, locations, then you begin to establish some limitations and focus your writing. I'm not surprised to hear some grumbling here as I don't like an outline any more than the next person does, but the way in which Ben put this idea to the class makes it something more of a framework for how you want to tell you story than a rock-solid outline.

This can also be a fun challenge and may provide some interesting story ideas that you may not have thought about previously.

Still not convinced that a framework can be helpful? Consider this...

"You can take a walk in the woods. It's not too dangerous... if you know where you are going. If you just start walking that's when you get lost."


"[Its] always good to leave room for your story to surprise you."

Have a good sense of where you want to go and be open to some diversions along the way. Just keep in mind the end goal and you'll make it though alright.

Happy writing!

Friday, December 9, 2011

In search of actors and readers

Playwrights Theatre is looking for ACTORS and READERS for the upcoming Madison and New Jersey Young Playwrights Festivals. Interested persons should complete the online survey found at the following link:


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sparking action with an Emergency

Here is a post originally published in November 2009 with some helpful tips on getting the story started. Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Hopefully you have jumped the first hurdle of writing your play and have decided on something to write about! No matter how you got started - with a character or plot idea - your play is likely to get stuck without a clear sense of how and why the dramatic action occurs.

In the first few scenes of a play, the audience learns about a main character(s) everyday life. This includes what he/she does, who they communicate with, and the environment in which they live, among others. Once this everyday existence is established, the play will begin to take off as the character's world is suddenly turned upside-down and he/she is in a position where action is necessary. I wrote a little about this idea before (

For an example, let's look at the story of Little Red Riding Hood. In our introductory scenes we want to create Little Red's everyday world so we explore her life and ask ourselves questions about where she lives (what is the house like? where is it located?), what she does (does she go to school? do chores around the house?), who she lives with (who is in her family). The answer to these questions can provide information that is used in the play to create Little Red's world as it exists day-in and day-out. Then, something needs to happen that changes everything. In your English/Language Arts classes your teacher might refer to this as the "Inciting Incident" of the story - we'll call it the "Emergency."

Depending upon how you interpret the story of Little Red Riding Hood, or even which version you consider, there are a couple of dangerous moments that Little Red has to face. The Wolf may come to mind - his actions certainly present a dangerous situation for Red and her Grandma - but this is not our Emergency. Instead, we need to look for an event earlier in the play that changes Little Red's life and sends her on the journey where she eventually confronts the Wolf. For me, the Emergency is the moment when Little Red's mom asks her to take a basket of goodies to her sick Grandmother in the woods. This journey is new for Red - something completely out of her everyday existence - and it is in the action of trying to get the goodies to Grandma that Little Red's story unfolds.

Also consider the story of Cinderella ( The arrival of the invitation to the Prince's Ball is the Emergency event that breaks Cinderella from her typical routine. Now, she has the chance to get a better life for herself (not that I'm suggesting that marrying a Prince is the answer for Cinderella).

Take a look at the first scenes of your play and ask yourself the following questions:
  • Do these scenes show a typical day in the life of my main character?
  • Is the character's goal/want clear?
  • What happens that causes the character to go on his/her journey? (What is the Emergency?)
You may find that some of the answers to these questions will help to clarify the Emergency event that sets the entire play in motion. See where it takes you!

Happy writing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back in the saddle, again

We're exactly 2 months from the submission deadline for the 2012 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival. Again those dates are:
  • January 14 - High School division (grades 10, 11, 12)
  • January 15 - Junior HS (7, 8, 9) and Elementary (4, 5, 6) divisions
Please see the Festival website at for a full explanation of the submission process. Please be sure to follow the directions exactly! I look forward to receiving your play soon!

It has been very busy at the theatre recently and I've missed posting to this blog for a while. I look to get back into the swing of things by reposting some of the most helpful information from previous years. I will also generate some new posts, too. In the end, I hope that all of this is helpful as you begin/continue/finish work on your play!

Hopefully you have begun to write and are starting to develop an idea into a story. For those of you still struggling to start, or unsure how to begin, I will remind you of two common phrases:
  • "Write what you know."
  • "What if?"
That first phrase is a bit dubious and I've seen many young writers interpret it to mean that they can only start writing something when they've become an expert about it. I don't interpret it this way at all. I see "write what you know" as a reminder to a playwright that he/she to think through their story fully. That is to say, make sure that you as the writer are comfortable with the story and the characters enough so that you understand what is happening, why it happens, where it happens, and to whom it happens. Understanding these things means that you will know your story.

If you have chosen to write about something that you know directly - perhaps something that happened in your life, or a topic or event that interests you, I strongly suggest that you consider using "What if?" to put some distance between yourself and that topic. If you choose to write about a moment like this, ask yourself "What if the opposite thing happened?" For example, there is an interesting genre of literature out there called alternative history in which the authors take a historical event and imagine what would happen if the opposite occurred. What if the British stopped the American revolution? This works for those life events, too. What if I didn't miss the bus? (Or what if I did miss the bus?)

These are just a couple of ways in which you can start to write your play (or get through some writers block, perhaps). The important thing is that you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards and WRITE!

And I wish you all of the best as you do just that!

Happy writing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

UPDATE - Submission deadlines changed!

Please note that we have changed the submission deadline for the Junior HS and Elementary divisions of the NJ Young Playwrights Festival. The deadlines are now as follows:

High School (grades 10-12) - January 14, 2012
Junior HS (grades 7-9) and Elementary (4-6) - January 15, 2012

Remember that these are "postmark" deadlines, so we must have your submission (script AND survey information) no later than 11:59 pm on the corresponding date above.

Let us know if you have questions -

Happy writing!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Igniting Young Voices - a panel discussion at the AATE conference in Chicago

Today I'm in Chicago to chair a panel discussion about young playwrights programs from across the country. Joining me in the discussion with Playwrights Theatre of NJ will be representatives from Young Playwrights, Inc (New York City), Actors Theatre of Louisville (Kentucky), Pegasus Players (Chicago), and ACT Theatre (Seattle).

This will be a unique opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of developing new works by young people and a chance for us to hear about the playwriting that is conducted in schools across the country. I'm looking forward to sharing some insight from our New Jersey playwrights with the group!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An update about critiques

Playwrights -

I've had some delays getting all of your critiques together to send via email. While I anticipated having these to you by now, it's going to take a little longer to get it all together. My apologies for the delay. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

2012 NJYPF deadlines announced!

Summer is a great time to start working on a new play! Plenty of time to write and read with your friends. And certainly let us at Playwrights Theatre now if we can be of any help.

The submission deadlines for the 2012 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival are as follows:
  • January 14 - High School / Rewrites / Podstages divisions
  • January 21 - Junior HS / Elementary divisions
Please note that these are "postmark" deadlines. Therefore, we must receive your script in our inbox with a time stamp no later than 11:59 pm on the dates listed above.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unique opportunity with a Colorado theatre program

I've recently been introduced to Explorati Teens in Colorado. They are looking for a few plays written by teenagers that will be used as performance pieces by their summer camps. Below is the information that I received. Take a look and see if it might be a fit for you. Please contact Explorati Teens directly with any questions.

Happy writing!
Explorati Teens Film & Theater Camp is looking for teen-written one-acts!

Explorati Teens is producing our first ever Film & Theater Camp and we want it to be a totally teen-driven experience! If you've got a one-act under 30 minutes with no more than 10 characters, we want to see it! This is your chance to be produced by the award-winning Bas Bleu Theatre Company, and connect with other teens who love the arts like you do!

You'll keep your rights, of course, and if we select your play, we'll pay you a $25 performance fee. Please send your scripts no later than July 1st to Trai Cartwright, Executive Director at Check us out at

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wrapping up the Festival

The 28th installment of the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival has come to a close. Finally I have some time to sit down and blog about the experience of the two performance dates. Unfortunately, my picture taking this year was a little shaky and I’m not sure what photos can actually be used. If any can be posted, we’ll put them up right away.

Monday, May 23
The day began before 9:00 am as we moved in to the University Center Little Theatre on the campus of Kean University. The crew from Kean had the stage set for us, so there was little prep work to be done in the theatre, giving plenty of time to wrap up some paperwork and to get the playwrights’ certificates in order.

At 10:00 am, we presented the six winning scripts in the Junior HS and Elementary divisions as a reading with the actors at music stands. The readings beginning with There’s Nothing to Do! by Finn Gannon, then Winter Sun by Rachel Skerker. The Easy World by Elizabeth Kilgore and Cellar Door by Ryan Kelly followed that and Mozart’s Silhouette by Joy Ho and The Wizard’s Candy by Caroline Hoerrner rounded out the morning presentation. Immediately following the performance, the playwrights and a representative from their schools were called to the stage and certificates were presented to the six winning playwrights. Two students also received an Honorable Mention for their work: Casey Murphy in the Junior HS division for her play, Time is Fleeting, and Emma Baxter in the Elementary division for her play, Race.

Following the morning performance, the Festival cast and crew took a long lunch break and returned to the Little Theatre at 1:30 to begin tech for the high school performances. First, we walked through the beginning and end of the two Honorable Mention readings to give the actors and the production staff a sense of how the Tuesday performance would begin. This was followed by a review of cues for the first pair of plays – For the Sake of America: A Story of Patriotism by Sam Gelman and Yesterday by Michelle Cherpika – and a run though of each of those scripts. These two plays were very concise in their storytelling and required very little sound or lighting effects. As the director of these plays I appreciated that this allowed us to use time typically spent figuring out the technical needs by instead using the time to explore the character relationships and plot in more detail. Once our tech was finished, the second group, who had been rehearsing in another room, moved in to the theatre. This group included the plays The Prologue to After by Jenna Postiglione and Wacky Wednesday by Justine DeSilva which required more technical elements than the previous plays given some of the “magic” (both literal and figurative) that occurs in each. While the second group held tech, my group had time to review what had just been done in tech and to go through the Honorable Mention reading.

Tuesday, May 24
The day of the high school performances began with the reading of Writer’s Iris by Molly Kirschner and Happy Days by Lacey Davies, both Honorable Mention recipients. In order to maintain a consistent flow to the performance, these readings were followed immediately by the other four plays with only brief pauses in between to reset the scenery as needed. Since the high school pairings are directed simultaneously by two separate casts and directors, the Tuesday performance was the first time I had to see and hear the other two plays since our first read through together on Saturday. It is amazing to see how different a play can be when it is brought to life in performance. Each of the playwrights also made some excellent revisions to their work throughout the rehearsal weekend and the combination of the actors’ and playwrights’ work resulted in an afternoon of well-constructed and provocative stories.

Tuesday ended early when compared to Monday’s schedule, so it seemed that we were on our way out of the Little Theatre almost as quickly as we had loaded in. But the brevity of the moment stands in stark contrast to the effect that the Festival had, and will continue to have, on everyone involved.

Certainly the playwrights and creative staff learned a lot throughout the process – many of them expressed as much to me throughout the weekend. I also heard from a number of parents, teachers, and audience members who were moved by the experiences on both days. That is a strong testament to the excellent work crafted by our Festival playwrights.

The imagination is a powerful tool and we encourage each of our playwrights to continue to use that tool to explore their world and to share it with the larger community whether through a future Festival, or in their schools, or however possible. Thank you again to the playwrights for sharing their work with us. It was a privilege to share in your vision and to produce it for the public. We wish you all the best.

Happy writing!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Festival weekend begins

This post marks the halfway point in the NJ Young Playwrights Festival schedule. We’ve had a packed week of rehearsals and the early morning hour for this entry should indicate that the prep work will continue right up to the morning’s curtain time.

We began rehearsals on Saturday at 12:30 pm with the high school playwrights joining us at Playwrights Theatre for a first reading of the scripts. This full company reading is the only time until Tuesday that everyone in the Festival will see/hear all four plays. After the reading, we split into two performance groups, each of which will perform two of the winning high school plays. I am directing the first group, which includes the plays For the Sake of America: A Story of Patriotism by Sam Gelman and Yesterday by Michelle Cheripka. Jim Ligon, a professional actor and director and member of the Playwrights Theatre staff, is directing the second group, which includes The Prologue to After by Jenna Postiglione and Wacky Wednesday by Justine DeSilva.

At 2:30 pm, we transitioned from the high school plays to a rehearsal of the junior high and elementary scripts. Four actors from the high school casts are also cast in these plays along with two other actors specifically hired for this section. In three hours,we read through the six plays to be performed tomorrow. Since this performance will be a reading, there will not be any movement meaning that the stage directions take an important role in the audience’s understanding of the play. So an important part of the rehearsal was to figure out which directions would be read or performed. Props and blocking were kept to a minimum in an effort to maintain focus on the story. The high school plays will take a similar approach, but with staged action.

It is a great benefit to the actors and directors to have the playwright in the rehearsal room. Michelle, Sam, Jenna, and Justine also seemed to benefit and did some remarkable work on their scripts and provided us with concise revisions that the actors had a relatively easy time settling into the plays and working out characters, conflicts, and intent. Over the years, I’ve noticed that our Festival playwrights typically have great moments of inspiration the first few times that the actors speak the words that, until now have existed only on the page and in their minds. And in my group, I felt that we were able to help the playwrights smooth out any rough edges and address any lingering questions that may have remained. It was a great day today and all of us working on the Festival are looking forward to the first performance tomorrow morning.

Monday morning we’ll move the Festival over to Kean University thanks to the partnership of Premiere Stages which is in residence on campus. The reading of the junior high and elementary school plays will begin at 10:00 am in the University Center Little Theatre. Admission is free and we hope that you will join us. Rehearsals for the high school plays and a quick walk-through of the honorable mention scripts will be in the afternoon. I’ll write more then.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playwright Profile - Michelle Cheripka

In the days leading up to the first rehearsal this Saturday, I’m posting short profiles of some of our high school playwrights. I sent the playwrights a series of questions via email, which will be included in the profile along with their response.
Today’s playwright is Michelle Cheripka, a junior at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack. Michelle’s play, Yesterday, was selected as one of four winners in the 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival – High School division.

How would you summarize your play in 3-4 sentences?
Evan has just fallen in love with Norah, but the relationship struggles in light of the relationship he has with his mother. In therapy, Evan must confront his dissociative identity disorder, his issues with his mother, his love for Norah, and the connection they all have to one another.

What inspired you to write your play?
I wrote my play because I wanted to show how not everything is black and white and sometimes it's okay to be in the gray area. People want there to be a clear answer to whatever they're doing or whichever situation they're in, but a lot of the time, you don't get that. I wanted to explore that gray area and put it in perspective that just because things may not be considered normal doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing.

What plays have you previously written?
Yesterday was my first play, but I've also written another play, The Detachment and I am currently working on two more.

What are your expectations for the upcoming Festival?
I'm really excited for the upcoming Festival. I can't wait to see the characters come to life and see how the actors interpret each one and makes it his own. Evan, Norah, and Dr. Brown have only been people in my head thus far, and now they finally get to be real people for everyone else. I'm also excited about getting the feedback of the audience seeing a live performance, as opposed to the feedback of people who have read the play.

What advice would you give to other writers?
I think the hardest part of being a writer is to have enough confidence in yourself and your idea. I know I've personally put away ideas before because I wasn't sure how they would be perceived and I wanted everyone to like it as much as I did. Not everyone is going to like your work and that's okay. Someone might hate it, but I think you should listen to why they hate it. You may not agree with them at all, but it's important to put your pride aside and determine if what they're saying holds any merit. Your biggest critic may actually to be your biggest editor.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Playwright Profile - Sam Gelman

Today’s playwright is Sam Gelman, a junior at The Pingry School in Martinsville. Sam’s play, For the Sake of America: A Story of Patriotism, was selected as one of four winners in the 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival – High School division.

How would you summarize your play in 3-4 sentences?
For the Sake of America: A Story of Patriotism is about an average man named Isaac who has been framed by the government for a crime he did not commit. He is given a choice: to plead guilty to the charges he is accused of and receives a deal from the government which will allow him to start his life all over again in a new town with government provided money, or too plead not guilty and risk being found guilty and condemned to jail. With the odds stacked against him, Isaac soon discovers that no matter what he does in the eyes of the jury he'll be found guilty, so he has to make a choice, between his principles and his freedom.

What inspired you to write your play?
The 2008 presidential election filled me with general loathing for self-proclaimed "servants of the people." I became convinced whatever politicians were doing could only be for their own good. I remember reading an op-ed about the failing war on drugs and wondering how the government could convince people that the war on drugs was not a failure. I came up with the idea of a staged drug bust, and the play came from there.

What plays have you previously written?
I have previously written one play (also about corrupt politicians, conveniently,) a murder mystery/drama set in Puritan New England called New Jerusalem. I also wrote an homage to Shakespeare in the form of a short prequel to Macbeth written in Shakespeare's iambic pentameter style. I start to write many plays, but in reality, I have many unfinished short plays in my collection just waiting to be finished.

What are you expectations for the upcoming Festival?
I'm very excited to see the upcoming festival, but I'm also feeling a little strange. It’s weird to imagine people speaking lines I wrote and acting them out. I'm very excited to see what will come out of the reading-after all, it’s one thing to read a play and quite another to see it.

What advice would you give to other writers?
Every time you have an idea, write it down! Keep a journal and jot down ideas as they come to you. Never decide not to write something down because it’s too silly-keep going with it until you decide not to. Also, once you commit to a project and decide you like it, keep working on it! I have too many unfinished plays that remained unfinished because my steam just died down. Keep the energy up!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Playwright Profile - Justine DeSilva

In the days leading up to the first rehearsal this Saturday, I’m posting short profiles of some of our high school playwrights. I sent the playwrights a series of questions via email, which will be included in the profile along with their response.

We begin with Justine DeSilva, an 11th grader at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack. Justine was selected as a winner in last year’s Festival for her play Why You. This year, her play, Wacky Wednesday was selected as one of four winners in the high school division.

How would you summarize your play in 3-4 sentences?
A teen couple struggling to understand the drastically different mentalities and social pressures of their two genders encounter an eccentric school nurse with the perfect remedy; a good old fashioned body switch.

What inspired you to write your play?
I am a firm believer in the 'art mirroring life' mentality; each piece I write has some sort of connection to my own experiences, questions, or curiosities. I feel that the most effective way for me to find truth in my writing is to expand on genuine emotions either felt or observed in my own life. Although the events of Wacky Wednesday are obviously fictional, they were inspired by my own frustrations and miscommunications with guy friends and boyfriends.

What plays have you previously written?
Last year I was very privileged to win the NJ Young Playwrights Festival/Governor's Award for the first play I'd ever written, Why You. The fact that I've been awarded the honor again for my second play is absolutely staggering and an incredible motivation to continue exploring the world of playwriting!

What advice would you give to other writers?
My tiny nugget of wisdom for the writers? Don't forget why you started writing in the first place. Remember the first time you felt words pounding against the pads of your fingers until you finally gave in and released them onto a palpable surface. Because that need and desire comes from a source of honesty that fuels not only a word's escape, but also its resonance in the humanity of others. It's a beauty that can't be forced but can be forgotten. Long story short? Write to fulfill an obligation to the soul, not the mind.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two plays added to the May 24 performance

We're happy to announce that we will be presenting the two plays that received Honorable Mention in the High School division of the Festival. These plays are:
  • Writer's Iris by Molly Kirschner, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
  • Happy Days by Lacey Davies, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
The plays will be performed as readings at the beginning of the performance with the four winning scripts presented immediately after.

Have you made your reservations yet?

Be sure to check us out on Facebook, too!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Two weeks to go!

Last night we celebrated the work of our high school playwrights at the New Jersey Governor's Awards in Art Education at the State Museum in Trenton. Our four playwrights, along with students from all artistic disciplines, were honored with a medallion and a proclamation from Governor Christie marking their achievement. Congratulations again!

With two weeks left to go we're making some final arrangements for the production. Now that the cast and directors are in place, we turn our attention to some of the technical needs and marketing tools. I've also heard from our marketing director that news organizations have been calling for information about our playwrights, so keep an eye on your local papers (in print and online).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Preparations underway

Preparations for the Festival are well underway! Casting is nearly complete and as we head into May, we hope to have some initial conversations with our high school playwrights in advance of the first read through on May 21.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NJYPF now on Facebook

The New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival now has a page on Facebook. Come check us out!
(be sure to spell out New Jersey when searching for us!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Winning plays for the 2011 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival

Now that all of the winning playwrights and those receiving Honorable Mention have been contacted, I am happy to announce to you the winning plays/playwrights of the 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival.

High School Division
  • For the Sake of America: A Story of Patriotism by Sam Gelman, 11th grade, The Pingry School
  • Yesterday by Michelle Cheripka, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
  • The Prologue to After by Jenna Postiglione, 10th grade, The Peddie School
  • Wacky Wednesday by Justine DeSilva, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
Junior HS Division
  • Cellar Door by Ryan Kelly, 9th grade, Union County Academy for Performing Arts
  • Mozart's Silhouette by Joy Ho, 8th grade, Columbia Middle School, Berkeley Heights
  • Winter Sun by Rachel Skerker, 8th grade, Columbia Middle School, Berkeley Heights
Elementary Division
  • There's Nothing to Do! by Finn Gannon, 4th grade, St. Vincent Martyr School, Madison
  • The Easy World by Elizabeth Kilgore, 4th grade, St. Vincent Martyr School, Madison
  • The Wizard's Candy by Caroline Hoerner, 6th grade, Chatham Middle School
Rewrites Division
  • No play selected this year.
Podstages Division
  • No play selected this year.
Honorable Mention
  • Race by Emma Q. Baxter, 6th grade, Randolph Middle School
  • Time is Fleeting by Casey Murphy, 9th grade, Union County Academy for Performing Arts
  • Happy Days by Lacey Davies, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
  • Writer's Iris by Molly Kirschner, 11th grade, Bergen County Academies
All plays were selected without knowledge of playwrights' schools or grade. Judges were not provided with any of the playwrights' information.

Congratulations to all of our playwrights! The winning plays will be presented at the 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival on May 23 (Junior HS and Elementary) and May 24 (High School) in the University Center Little Theatre @ Kean University in Union, NJ. Both performances are at 10:00 a.m.

Readers are currently making the finishing touches on their written critiques. It is my hope to have those out to you within 4 weeks time.

Thanks again to everyone who wrote and submitted a play. Please stay tuned to this blog to follow the Festival process.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Selections made

I met with the Selection Panel for the NJ Young Playwrights Festival this past Friday, March 11 and we chose the Festival plays in the High School, Junior HS, and Elementary divisions. I will reach out to the playwrights and their families and schools all this week. Rewrites and Podstages decisions will be made by the end of March.

First, I want to congratulate everyone who wrote a play and submitted it to the NJ Young Playwrights Festival this year. Writing a play is a fun, but difficult process. Engaging in that work and sharing the results is an accomplishment of which to be proud. The readers at all levels of this Festival were impressed with the work and enjoyed reading what you created. However, only a few plays can be chosen for the Festival and we believe that the selections for this year stand as strong representatives of the work being done by the youth of New Jersey.

Overall, the Panel enjoyed reading and discussing these scripts and making the selections was a difficult task. The plays that reached the final round in each of these divisions were unique in their themes and storytelling techniques and held a variety of strengths.

Congratulations again to all who submitted work to the Festival. We will be in touch with the division winners this week. All other playwrights will receive their written critiques via email toward the end of May, or in early June. In the meantime please direct any questions to the Festival email address at

Thanks and happy writing!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Final round taking shape

Today is the day that the Second Round of the Festival comes to a close. We already have 13 scripts in the Elementary division that will advance to the final round of judging. I will hear from the High School and Junior HS readers later today. I can't wait to read the finalist scripts!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Almost there

Judging for the NJ Young Playwrights Festival recently entered the second round. I've heard great things from the readers - they are enjoying the plays very much! I'm looking forward to reading the plays in the final round.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Additional opportunities for young playwrights

There are plenty of opportunities out there for playwrights like you to have your work read, reviewed, and potentially produced. Here are a few programs with deadlines approaching in the next three months, some as soon as Monday!

This information comes from a resource for high school playwrights published by the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) and my own research. Some programs are national while others are only for those in our region or state. I'm not as familiar with all of these opportunities as I would like to be, so do your research. In fact, before submitting your work to any contest, theatre, or publication you should always check out the program information, submission guidelines, and sponsoring organization first. Make sure that the program is the right fit for you and your play and that you follow the submission guidelines as written.

The Theatre Project’s 10th annual Young Playwrights Competition
Deadline: January 31, 2011

Baker’s Plays – Dramatic Debuts: High School Playwriting Competition
Deadline: January 31, 2011

Blank Theatre Company’s 19th annual Nationwide Young Playwrights Festival
Deadline March 15, 2011

Princeton University Ten Minute Play Contest (HS Juniors only)
Deadline: March 30, 2011

VSA Arts Playwright Discovery Program
Deadline: April 15, 2011

Lebanon Community Theatre’s Playwriting Contest
Deadline: April 30, 2011

Break a leg!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thanks for writing

The submission deadlines for all divisions of the 2011 NJ Young Playwrights Festival have passed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a play for consideration. I will be processing scripts over the next few days. You will be contacted ONLY if there is a problem with your submission. Otherwise, sit tight and enjoy your accomplishment. Writing a play is difficult work and you are to be congratulated!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It is great to see all of the submissions continuing to roll in to the Festival! Please remember that there are two steps to submitting your play:

1) Complete the Title Page Information survey at

2) Email your play as a MS Word or PDF document to

You MUST complete both steps of this process for your submission to be complete. You will be contacted by our office ONLY if your submission is incomplete. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via email or phone.

Happy writing!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Multiple submissions

I just fixed an error on our survey page that was preventing some of you from submitting multiple scripts. You should be able to do so now, but if not, here is the direct link to that page:

If you still cannot connect, please contact us via the Festival email address at

200 and counting

As of 1:25 pm today we already have 200 scripts submitted to the Festival! Still 10.5 hours until the deadline for high school submissions and another week to go before all Junior HS and Elementary plays are due. Looks like it will be a big program this year!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Keep 'em coming!

So far this morning I have had an additional 18 plays submitted to the Festival inbox. Looks like the snow day was inspirational afterall!

Only 36.5 hours and counting until the deadline for High School, Rewrites, and Podstages division submissions.

Keep it up!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow day, writing day

Judging by the list of cancellations on TV, you likely have a snow day today. Great! That means you have some extra time to finish your script submission for the Festival.

Remember, high school plays are due this Friday; all other plays are due next Friday.

Happy writing and enjoy the snow!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Scripts are rolling in!

As of this morning we've already received a significant number of script submissions to the NJ Young Playwrights Festival! Don't  be left out... submit your play today!

There are 5 days left to submit a script in the High School, Rewrites, and Podcast divisions of the NJ Young Playwrights Festival.

There are 12 days left for Junior HS and Elementary submissions.

Please review the submission guidelines at where we have provided links to the Title Page Information form hosted at SurveyMonkey. Also, all scripts must be submitted to us via

Happy writing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

First deadline approaching...

Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you found time to rest during the holiday break, but also have continued working on your script submissions.

We have begun to receive script submissions to all divisions of the 2011 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival. Just wanted to remind you that scripts for the High School Divisions (High School, Rewrites, and Podstages) are due by 11:59 pm on Friday, January 14th. Junior HS and Elementary Division submissions are due by 11:59 pm on Friday, January 21st.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding your script submission. I fielded a few questions during the break and am happy to provide any guidance about the Contest and the submission guidelines that I can.

I look forward to receiving your play. Happy writing!