The Theater Project, an award-winning drama company, is conducting its 12th annual Young Playwrights Competition to encourage the next generation of theater practitioners and audiences by honoring student work and bringing it to life. Not many 13-18 year-olds have an opportunity to have a play they wrote performed in a reading by professional actors, but the three of them who win the Competition will get that chance.
While performing in Cranford and Maplewood, The Theater Project has been encouraging young writers from around the state over the past dozen years. Past winners have gone on to pursue degrees in theater and play writing, and they often return to The Theater Project to present prizes and share their journeys with the newest honorees.
The competition is open to secondary school students aged 13-18, and will culminate in a performance/awards ceremony in March, 2014.
“In tough economic times, the arts sometimes get short shrift as people struggle to make ends meet and schools see their budgets shrink,” says Theater Project producer Daaimah Talley. “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 –- we want to make sure that kids know how important their creative endeavors are by showcasing them in front of the community.” Winners and runners-up will see their work presented to an audience and receive prizes in addition to recognition.
The first, second, and third place authors will receive $300, $200 and $100 cash prizes, and the Joseph Curka Award for Young Playwrights. The prize honors the memory of Joseph Curka, whose wife Marion is a long-time friend and supporter of The Theater Project.
Three additional student writers will receive Honorable Mention certificates. On the day of the awards performance, local playwrights with education experience will make themselves available for half hour tutorials with as many entrants as possible.
The competition was inspired by a generous donation from Linden resident Bill Mesce, Jr., an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, whose recent short story collection, PRECIS, was published by Stephen F. Austin University Press. He is also the author of OVERKILL: THE RISE AND FALL OF THRILLER CINEMA, and writes regularly about film and television for the award-winning website, Sound on Sight. Mesce says about the competition: "It is not only impressive but inspiring to see these young people applying themselves to an art form that has always been about a command of language, and a bit awesome to see how well they carry it off."
“Story-telling: plot and character, mood and tone, putting words together in a meaningful way is not only about communication, but also fosters the critical thinking skills so necessary to success in education and the workplace,” says Theater Project artistic director Mark Spina.
In addition to offering classes and productions at the Burgdorff Center in Maplewood, NJ, The Theater Project also presents free monthly workshops at the Cranford Community Center, with the support of the Friends of the Cranford Library. Further information is available at TheTheaterProject.org.
COMPETITION GUIDELINES (also available at www.thetheaterproject.org ):
Only one entry per author. Entry fee: $5
Scripts must be typed in play format.
All submissions must be 10 to 25 pages (excerpts of longer work are OK!).
Original work only, no adaptations.
All entrants must be NJ residents in secondary school.
Entries MUST be received by January 20, 2014
HOW TO ENTER: By January 20, 2014, submit a 10 to 25 page script according to the guidelines above at our web site, TheTheaterProject.org, with a 50-word biography of the author, contact information and the name of school currently attended. The $5 entry fee can be paid at their web site.
All questions can be directed to The Theater Project at 973.763.4029
or by email at THEATERPROJECT@aol.com.