Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Premiere Stages at Kean University to Combat COVID-19 with the Power of the Pen


Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has announced a new initiative—The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards—a new playwriting competition for New Jersey based writers that offers cash awards and benefits in three categories. The project will be part of the 2020 Premiere Play Festival—Premiere Stages' acclaimed new play development program that provides readings, workshops and full productions to regional playwrights as part of each season.

The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards will offer unique opportunities to seniors in three categories:

  • The High School Senior Endeavor Award will provide $1000 to a rising senior who will be completing his/her/their junior year of high school in May or June of 2020. The winning student will also receive a professional reading of the play and a letter of recommendation that can be used to support Fall college applications.
  • The College Senior Endeavor Award will provide $1000 to a Kean University senior who is graduating from Kean in May of 2020. The winning college senior will also receive a professional reading of the play and will be extended the offer of a paid six-month internship in the Premiere Stages Literary Office.
  • The NJ Senior Endeavor Award will provide $1000 to a senior citizen who currently resides in a New Jersey residential community (Assisted Living or Independent Living). Premiere Stages will also provide a professional reading of the play and a fully sponsored Premiere Stages Legacy Residency for those seniors who also reside in the community where the winning writer lives (once CDC guidelines for social distancing have been fully lifted). Legacy Residencies are part of the Premiere Play Factory and provide opportunities for seniors to partner with professional playwrights to document, share and celebrate their legacies with their peers and families through a showcase of their work as performed by professional actors.

Accepted entries will be one-act plays between ten and sixty pages inspired by or in response to the challenges of COVID-19. Content can directly relate to issues surrounding the virus, or may be more abstractly related. Plays can be autobiographical or can be completely fictional; an application form will ask two simple questions about the author's experiences. Submissions are limited to writers in one of the above categories who reside in New Jersey.

Premiere will accept submissions June 1 through August 1, 2020, and the three winners will be selected by September 1, 2020; any submissions received before or after this submission window will not be considered. All three winners will receive developmental readings with a professional cast, director and dramaturg, between October 9-11, 2020 on the Kean University campus. An additional six playwrights (two in each category) will receive an honorable mention certificate and an honorarium of $100 each. The project will be sponsored through a sustained funding gift from longtime Premiere Stages donors W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher.

The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards have been conceived by John J. Wooten, Producing Artistic Director and founder of Premiere Stages. "With every challenge comes opportunity", stated Wooten, "and in times like these, we have looked to our artists to help heal and re-inspire our communities. That is why we are committed to not only maintaining our commitment to writers during this crisis, but to increasing it."

The Premiere Play Festival has received over 5,000 submissions and developed more than fifty plays since 2005. Multiple plays produced by Premiere have been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association, and/or have been published by Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing Company, Playscripts, and Broadway Play Publishing. A number of Play Festival winners and finalists have subsequently been produced in New York and at regional theatres across the country. Premiere Stages plans to announce additional Festival events and the complete 2020 season in April.

All Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards entries will be evaluated by a panel of theatre professionals in consultation with Premiere's artistic and literary staff. There is no fee to enter the competition. Complete submission guidelines are available at Premiere Stages is committed to supporting a diverse group of writers; playwrights of all backgrounds and experience levels are encouraged to submit.

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Sign-interpreted, audio-described and open-captioned performances are available upon request; please call 908-737-4077 at least two weeks prior to your desired performance. For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Investors Foundation, The Union County HEART Grant, Actors’ Equity Foundation, and through the generous support of individual patrons and local organizations. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.

Premiere Stages is committed to producing topical plays and interactive programs that reflect people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, religious groups, gender identities, ages, abilities, disabilities and sexual preferences. 

Created in 2004, Premiere Stages is the professional Equity theatre in residence at Kean University. Through its unique partnership with Kean, Premiere’s play development programs, educational initiatives, and professional development opportunities actively embrace the university's academic curriculum while expanding the scope, accessibility, and prestige of the professional programming on campus. For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving nearly 15,000 students. The University’s five undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers six doctoral degree programs and more than 60 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union and Toms River, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education.  Visit