The Theater Project is once again reaching out to creative young people in its 19th annual Young Playwrights Competition. Winners receive cash prizes and see their work performed by professional actors at the Zoom awards ceremony in the spring. To inspire this year’s entrants, The Theater Project will rebroadcast last year’s four winning plays at 7:30pm, Thursday, January 14. This event is made possible in part by a grant from the Investors Savings Bank Foundation.
The submission deadline to enter the 2021 competition is January 22. New Jersey’s high school playwrights submit their short plays at TheTheaterProject.org web site, where they will find all the necessary entry guidelines and formatting rules.
“Kids need us to listen,” says artistic director Mark Spina. “Every year one of our winners tells us, ‘I would never have tried to do this if I hadn't heard about the competition.’ By providing this forum, we hope to inspire more young people to write and exercise and develop the verbal abilities, critical thinking skills and creativity that they need to succeed in any field.”
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’s event to present prizes and share their journeys with the newest honorees. Prior to the ceremony, the judges, 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 their creative efforts are valued by showcasing them for the community,” says program coordinator Kevin Carver. “Arts education sometimes gets short-changed as schools struggle to meet so many demands, especially this year. But when kids lose out on arts experiences, they miss opportunities to develop critical thinking skills that are needed now more than ever.”
The winning playwrights receive cash prizes; the honorable mentions are awarded gift certificates. The Theater Project is an award-winning professional company in Union, NJ. The 2020 honorees were:
FIRST PRIZE: Sam Zaslow-Braverman, Golda Och Academy, West Orange
SECOND PRIZE: A TIE: Mika Cullen - Leonia High School, Lily Piede - Montclair Kimberley Academy
THIRD PRIZE: Lindsey Polevoy – Bergen County Academies, Hackensack
Honorable Mentions: Jacob Makofske, Northern Highlands Regional High School, Allendale;Lucille O'Donnel, Diana Benenaula, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, Elizabeth. Isabella Castillo, Mariana Meriles, Natalie Painter, Jordan Orlando, Aidan Winn, Bergen County Academies, Hackensack.