Saturday, October 31, 2015




Open to all NJ secondary school students, ages 13 to 18


WHEN: Submission deadline January 19, 2016
INFO:, 908 809-8865

The Theater Project is once again reaching out to creative young people in its fourteenth annual Young Playwrights Competition. Winners receive cash prizes and see their work performed by professional actors at the awards ceremony in March of 2016.

clip_image002The submission deadline is January 19, 2016. New Jersey’s high school playwrights submit their short plays at website, where they will find all the necessary entry guidelines and formatting rules.

“We look forward to inspiring and being inspired,” said artistic director Mark Spina. “Every year, we are energized by the incredible talent and creativity in the entries, and every year we hope to inspire more young people to write and be creative by providing a showcase for their work.” (Pictured: Past Winners of March 2015 Young Playwrights Competition: Jordan Goldberg, Brianna Torres, Cathryn Mesce, Rachel Sobel)

clip_image002[6]Nine young people were honored in the March 2015 awards ceremony: First Prize: Cathryn Mesce, from the Union County Academy for the Performing Arts; tied for Second Prize: Rachel Sobel, Montclair Kimberley Academy and Brianna Torres, Union County Academy for the Performing Arts: Third Prize: Jordan Goldberg, Bergen County Academies. Honorable Mentions went to Stella Ferra and Jole Perkins, Union County Academy for the Performing Arts, Maddie Grubbs Hightstown High School, Natalie Lifson, The Pingry School, Jillian Rezen and Camille Tejeda, Bergen County Academies. (Left: 2015 Honorable Mentions: Jole Perkins, Stella Ferra, Maddee Grubbs, Jillian Rezen, Camille Tejeda)

The Theater Project is an award-winning professional company in residence at The Burgdorff Cultural Center in Maplewood, NJ. 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 to present prizes and share their journeys with the newest honorees.

One such example is Jake Brandman, a graduate of Westfield High School and former Young Playwrights prize winner. He is now living and working in New York City, having received a BFA in Dramatic Writing and an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from the Tisch School of the Arts. Jake’s work has been performed at venues ranging from Joe’s Pub to the Laurie Beechman Theater to the Library at Lincoln Center. His recent works include “The Bushwickers: A Play about Superheroes” and “The Music of Erich Zann.”

Jake is a frequent guest speaker at the awards ceremony, where he shares his experiences and takes questions from the younger writers.

"Working with the Theater Project on the Young Playwright's Competition is always one of the highlights of my year,” Jake said. “It's such a treat to show these enthusiastic and talented high school students that their hard work is both deserving of celebration and worthy of being shared with the community." 

On the day of the ceremony, the judges and 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 how appreciated their creative efforts are by showcasing them in front of the community,” says artistic director Spina. “In tough economic times, the arts sometimes get short changed as people struggle to make ends meet and schools see their budgets shrink. 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.”

Complete competition guidelines are available at