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Wharton seeks playwrights for 24th annual Young Playwrights Festival

Michigan high school students who have a passion for playwriting are invited to submit a one-act play for the 24th annual juried competition, Wharton Center’s Young Playwrights Festival, or YPF.

This program of Wharton Center Institute for Arts and Creativity brings student works alive on the Pasant Theatre stage. Twelve semi-finalists will be chosen out of all submitted scripts. A jury will select six finalists out of the twelve, and these finalists will have their one-act plays produced at Wharton Center.

A professional theater mentor will be assigned to each student to assist in revising the play. Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre students will serve as actors for the plays. The six finalists will each receive a $200 award for their winning works, and the other six semi-finalists will receive a $100 award.

In the spring of 2020, the six winning plays will be performed two times. The first performance is at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 9 and is free to the public. The second performance at 10 a.m. Monday, May 11 is a free high school performance; all sponsoring teachers are encouraged to attend.

To be eligible for this unique program:

• Students must be a Michigan high school student grade 9-12.
• Students must be sponsored by a teacher willing to serve as the liaison between Wharton Center, the school and the student applicant.
• Students must submit an application form with script. Parent, sponsoring teacher and student signatures are required.
• Finalists must be willing to work with an assigned professional theater mentor to review their play; writers who cannot commit to revising their plays will have their eligibility revoked.

Professional mentors for 2020 include:

Janice Akers – artistic director, Theater Emory, Emory University
Thomas Coté – artistic director, The Workshop Theater, New York City
Joe Giardina – New York City theater artist
Eric Gilde – NYC-based actor and playwright
Pam Sterling – associate professor of theater, Arizona State University
Elizabeth Wong – Los Angeles-based playwright

Mentors are subject to change.

All rules and guidelines for the program can be found at

By: Bob Hoffman