Past Winners

THE JULIE HARRIS PLAYWRIGHT AWARD

**** 2021-2022 ****

Joe Sutton – 1st Place Winner – TWIRL

TWIRL – Pat Adams, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Adams, leaves a message early one Saturday morning on the answering machine of Ashley Duncan, a woman who years earlier had testified that Justice Adams had sexually harassed her.  Now, 12 years later, Justice Adams seems poised to ascend from his seat as an Associate Justice to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  However, to do so he will need to face another set of hearings.  Hence the phone call. Mrs. Adams wants to know if Ms. Duncan will testify again.  Because as we all know, charges that may once have been rather easily withstood — could play very differently in the MeToo era. What follows then is a surprising relationship that builds between the two.  Ultimately, they decide to confront Adams at his apartment – and force him to own all that has occurred.

Joe Sutton’s plays include Voir Dire (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the Best Play Award of the American Theatre Critics Association), As It Is In HeavenThe Third Army, and Restoring the Sun. Theatres producing Joe’s plays includee New York Theater Workshop, Long Wharf, Arena Stage, BAM, the Cleveland Play House, and the Old Globe.  Some time ago, Joe’s play Complicit opened at London’s Old Vic and is now playing around the world, most recently at Heidel-berg’s Zimmertheater.  More recently, Joe’s play Orwell In America premiered at Northern Stage before continuing on to a successful run at 59E59.  Last year, Joe’s play Robey was workshopped by Premiere Stages as winner of the Liberty Live Commission. In addition to his theatre work, Joe has developed a pilot for television called Scales of Justice (USA Network).  A recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them multiple fellowships from NYFA, the NEA, and NJ Arts, Joe taught playwriting for many years at Dartmouth College.  Joe lives with his wife Anne at their home in West Orange, New Jersey. www.joesutton.com

 

Lynne Bachleda – 2ndPlace Winner – STOLEN

STOLEN is based on a true story. For nearly sixty years Cornelius Gurlitt successfully hid more than 1,400 pieces of Nazi-era art in his Munich apartment. His father, a “degenerate art” collector for Hitler, had slyly amassed the stash of 20th century masterpieces, many of them probably stolen from Jews needing to escape Germany. In Cornelius’ reclusive reality and fragile mind, the pieces—valued at more than one billion dollars––became his living and entire “family.” A chance chain of tragic and explosive events forces the octogenarian to face what he feared most. Stolen looks at the imaginary heart of Cornelius’ last days, when the weak hermit stands before an accusing world. Can he save his family? What happens when the paintings come alive again?

Lynne Bachleda has been a freelance non-fiction writer for 40-plus years and has authored more than a dozen books. In 2009, at age 59, she began playwriting. Smith & Krauss chose “A Tale of Two in One,” one of her 2016 Nashville Fringe Festival Mortal Quartet10-minute works, for The Best Short Plays of 2017. In 2016 she attended the LaMama Umbria International Playwrights Retreat in Italy, where she studied with Mac Wellman. The following year LaMama New York staged a public reading of her second full-length work Stolen. Also in 2017, she produced her one-act, Stories From the Back Seat, for the Nashville Fringe Festival. In 2020 she was an Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts where, with Master Teaching Artist A in Gordon, she continued to develop her current work Do I Have To? exploring the intersection of artificial intelligence and reincarnation. Facebook: F Lynne Bachleda

 

Richard Willett – 3rd Place Winner – THE TERMINAL EVENT

In THE TERMINAL EVENT, Katie Milbrandt is an aspiring New York actress working part-time as a medical receptionist when she meets troublesome patient Desmond Forrester, notorious for ignoring Dr. Martin Crossley’s advice and addressing his cancer diagnosis with alternative medicine. Desmond pursues a connection with Katie, which she resists then finally succumbs to, until he disappears for a prolonged length of time. Katie discovers he’s been avoiding her because he believes his cancer has gone into remission, and he fears her skepticism about his progress. She’s frightened too, more than anything, of her growing feelings for him. When Desmond’s symptoms return full throttle, and he still refuses to see a doctor, she returns to care for him. In his final days, the two of them are able to overcome past wounding and say “I love you” to each other — something neither has been able to do with anyone before. In the end, that love and the value they have brought to each other’s life seem to transcend the essential mystery of what healing actually may or may not be.

Richard Willett was born in Hollywood but grew up in Vancouver, Canada. He lived for many years in New York City before moving back to Los Angeles about ten years ago. He is the author of the plays TriptychRandom Harvest, and The Flid Show, which have been presented off-off-Broadway and at theaters across the country. Honors include an Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellowship, a Tennessee Williams Scholarship, and grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts, among others. In January of 2008, his play Tiny Bubbles was chosen Best New American Play at the Firehouse Theatre Festival of New American Plays in Richmond, Virginia; earlier it had been twice short-listed for the Public Theater’s New Work Now! festival. It premiered in New York in 2012. His play 9/10 is scheduled for a New York production in 2022, a pandemic-delayed commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Richard is also an optioned screenwriter who has twice been in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowships Competition Top 50 (out of 7,000 scripts). His plays Triptych2B, and The Flid Show have been published by United Stage.  IMDB: Richard Willett

 

**** 2020-2021 ****

1st Place – “Wolves At The Door” by Ali MacLean

Wolves At The Door is a story about a couple – Grace and Gavin, who lost their daughter Lucy in a shooting where she was in the wrong place, wrong time. The shooter, Marc, had returned to work to kill his co-worker in an ‘incel’ styled revenge plot. Lucy was at a dance class in the building next door and was collateral damage. While grieving, Grace is bombarded by a stream of visitors, all who seem to want to exploit her in some manner. A Pastor wants her to convert
and be the face of the ministry. A psychic wants her to connect with her daughter and be an advertisement for her popular practice. A cop who was at the shooting wants absolution. Her ex-husband, Mitch, wants custody of half of his daughter’s ashes. Meanwhile, Grace and Gavin grapple with the harassment of ‘hoaxers’ who don’t believe that Lucy is dead, and their own relationship woes, as one of them wants to heal  and one isn’t ready to move on.

Ali MacLean of Los Angeles, CA is an award-winning playwright, TV writer, and actor in Los Angeles. A graduate of the Miami University actor’s program and the LaJolla Playhouse acting conservatory, her plays and writing have been workshopped all over Los Angeles and the UK. Ali’s play She’s Not There received the 2018 John Gassner Playwriting Award and was named 2019 Best Production by She NYC Arts. She was nominated for a Broadway World Directing Award for the same play. Her play Wolves At The Door was a finalist in the 2019 O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference and her scripts have been finalists for the Orchard Project, Pegasus Playlab, Kitchen Dog Theatre, New American Voices, and the Marsha A. Croyle Scribe Award. This Will Be Our Year, her latest play will be presented in the 2020 SHE NYC Arts Festival. Ali was named the winner of the 2020 David Sedaris Humor Writing Competition. She is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Playwrights Unit, Antaeus Theatre’s Playwrights Lab, and the Dramatists Guild.

2nd Place – “Hitch” by James McLindon

Hitch is play that addresses many big issues: #Me-too, race, sexual abuse, gender and racial privilege and so on – but embeds them in a very human and intimate story. When Lane, 36, white, picks up a young biracial hitchhiker, Dee, in upstate New York, his casual fantasy of a hook-up is quickly blown up when he learns she is escaping from her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Dee’s initial assumptions about Lane are similarly wrong: far from being a geeky, wannabe ladies’ man, Lane in fact is recovering from a devastating divorce as he drives to pick up his eight-year-old daughter to take her home for the summer vacation. The lies each has carefully told about him/herself to the other begin to unravel: Dee’s father didn’t die in a trucking accident, but rather abandoned her family; Lane’s philandering didn’t end his marriage, rather his wife’s did. In the end, both need to face their demons: Dee, to return home and rescue the little sister she has left behind who she fears is now being groomed for abuse; Lane, to return and pick up his daughter who Dee has taught him is likely heartbroken.

James McLindon of Northampton, LA is a member of the Nylon Fusion Theater Co. in New York. When We Get Good Again won the Playhouse On The Square New Works competition and premiered there in January, 2020. His play, Salvation, was developed at PlayPenn and premiered in New York, Giovanna Sardelli directing, to critical acclaim in the New York Times and elsewhere. Comes a Faery was developed at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Sean Daniels directing, was a finalist for the Humana Festival, and was premiered at the New Ohio Theatre by Nylon Fusion. Mr. McLindon’s plays have been developed and/or produced at theaters such as the O’Neill (selection and six-time semifinalist), PlayPenn, Victory Gardens, Lark, Abingdon, hotINK Festival, Irish Repertory, Samuel French Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, New Rep, Lyric Stage, Boston Playwrights, Local Theatre, Telluride Playwrights Festival, Great Plains Theatre Conference, and Seven Devils. His plays have been published by Dramatic Publishing, Smith & Kraus, and Applause Books and produced all over the world including London, Edinburgh, Ireland, Australia, the Philippines, Luxembourg, India, Dubai and Estonia.

3rd Place – “The Draper” by Fengar Gael

The Draper is a story about happenings in the Spindles Fabric Shop in the Garment District of New York, where women appear to be vanishing through folds of fabric. Penelope, a young violinist whose sister is dying, and Siegfried, a window draper and former physics prodigy, attempt to unravel the mystery while falling desperately in love. An investigation ensues, involving a journalist who spreads news of the mysterious shop while Siegfried attempts to prove the existence of folds in fabrics that lead through unseen dimensions to a parallel universe. As their curiosity leads to new discoveries, Penelope and Siegfried realize the entire material world may be in peril.

Fengar Gael of Irvine, California, has had workshops and productions at the Sundance Playwrights Lab, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the InterAct Theatre of Philadelphia, New Jersey Repertory,  the Salt Lake Acting Company, the Moxie Theatre of San Diego, the Athena Project of Denver, the Landing Theatre of Houston, and in New York City: MultiStages, Urban Stages, The Secret Theatre, Turn to Flesh Productions, Project Y Theatre, Yonder Window Theatre, and TRU Resources. She is a recipient of the Craig Noel Award (for Devil Dog Six), the Playwrights First Award (for Opaline), the Wilde Award (for The House on Poe Street) and commissions from South Coast Repertory, New Jersey Repertory, the InterAct Theatre, The Hangar Theatre, and a fellowship from the California Arts Council. Most recently, Sycorax: Cyber Queen of Qamara was produced by the Ego Actus Theatre of New York, and The House on Poe Street was produced at the Detroit Repertory Theatre. 

YOUTH THEATRE

1st Place – “Superstition Afternoons” by Stephen Floyd

Superstition Afternoons is a story about two eighth-grade boys who find adventure in the Superstition Mountains near their home in Apache Junction, AZ. A gold prospector warns them of danger, eagles attack them in the night, and after exploring a cave, they can’t account for several hours of their time. Did Bradley and Travis discover the fabled Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, or was it just a dream?

Stephen Floyd of Phoenix, Arizona has taught bilingual secondary math and English for over twenty years, and was honored to present for the National Teacher Training Institute (WNET Buffalo and KAET-TV Tempe, AZ)  in 1999. Winner of two Mensa Owl Awards, he earned the Evans-Lerma-Portillo Scholarship for graduate study at La Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao, Spain. His full-length comedy Hogsquatch was performed July 5-21, 2019 in Phoenix. His feature The Llandudno File won Best Screenplay at the New Cinema Film Festival in Lisbon (June 2020).  He is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild of America, London Playwrights Workshop, Player-Playwrights Kilburn (London) UK, Arizona Playwrights, and the Modern Language Association. Stephen performed undergraduate work at Arizona State, and earned the Master’s Degree in Spanish Pedagogy at Northern Arizona University. He works as Master Carpenter at The Aside Theatre and Set Carpenter for B3 Productions in Phoenix.

2nd Place“The Casandra Syndrome” by Shoshannah Boray

The Casandra Syndrome is adapted liberally from Greek mythology, The Cassandra Syndrome is an original play about the next generation of leaders stepping up now to solve the urgent problems that adults can’t or won’t solve. Cassandra has the gift of seeing the future and the curse that no man or woman will ever believe her. The next generation is the answer: neither men nor women yet, the teenagers of Athens and Sparta can hear Cassandra’s dire warnings, and they can save the future. Set in Ancient Greece, full of egotistical and childish Greek Gods, noble and war-mongering monarchs and soldiers, the dapper Paris and savvy Helen, The Cassandra Syndrome is a call to action for today’s youth to step up and make a better tomorrow. Inspired by today’s outspoken teen activists in the fields of climate change, gun violence, and human rights.  An ensemble cast of 25-30, mostly gender flexible or nuetral. Simple, spare set.

Shoshannah Boray of Burlington, VT writes contemporary plays about absurdity in the ordinary, the pull between security and freedom, and the need for courage. Her plays, both for adults and for youth actors, have been produced and staged nationwide, including “Escaping Warsaw” (NYC, Los Angeles); Water People (Best Original Script, Maryland One-Act Festival); “Mensch” (JET Festival of New Plays); The Most Important Thing in the World (published by YouthPLAYS.com); Momo No Kawa: Peach River (for elementary age actors, published by YouthPLAYS.com); Mandolin (NYC, Portland, OR) and Strawberry Moon (VT State Winner, Clauder Competition.) She lives in Burlington, Vermont with her family and works as a teaching artist with Vermont Stage.

* * * * 2019-2020 * * *

FIRST AWARD:

PICASSO IN PARIS by Rich Rubin begins with the place, the Montmartre district of Paris; the time, 1906. Young Pablo Picasso is introduced to Henri Matisse by Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo.  Picasso and Matisse are both fiercely competitive, and they soon become rivals for leadership in the cut-throat world of modern art.  Meanwhile, on the home-front, Picasso and his mistress Fernande adopt Raymonde, a thirteen-year-old girl, from a local orphanage.  As Picasso rushes to complete a groundbreaking work of art, his relationship with Fernande and Raymonde takes an unexpected turn.

Rich Rubin of Portland, Oregon has plays produced throughout the U.S., as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico.  Full-length works include Swimming Upstream (winner, Todd McNerney Playwright Award; finalist, Reva Shiner Comedy Award); Caesar’s Blood (finalist, Oregon Book Award; finalist, Ashland New Play Festival); Shakespeare’s Skull (winner, Portland Civic Theatre Guild New Play Award); Left Hook (finalist, Woodward-Newman Drama Award); Assisted Living (winner, Neil Simon Festival New Play Contest); Marilyn/MISFITS/Miller (finalist, Julie Harris Playwright Award); and Cottonwood in the Flood (winner, Fratti-Newman Political Play Award).  Member: Dramatists Guild, the New Play Exchange, and Portland’s Nameless Playwrights and LineStorm Playwrights.  www.richrubinplaywright.com

SECOND AWARD:

 Necessity Hath No Law by Shirley Wilson tells the true story of a Quaker farmer and his wife, a midwife and healer, who are leading station keepers on the Underground Railroad, having built their house with a trick wall leading to a passageway that can harbor up to seven slaves. A notorious stranger named John Brown comes in from a major snow storm, and stays ten days. John Brown knows the area to be strategically well-suited for his future plans to end slavery and tries to persuade his host, a pacifist, to help. The debates between the militant and the pacifist become quite lively during the ten days in the busy household, and the play ends by leaving the audience to decide who is right.

Shirley Wilson of Newport News, Virginia is a writer of plays, screenplays, and short stories.  Her screenplay, “Nobody Wants to be Last,” won a finalist award in the 2016 Richmond International Film Festival. Another screenplay, “The Land,” won Best Feature Screenplay in the 2009 Moondance International Film Festival.  A radio drama, “Something to Count On” was aired on 111 PBS radio stations around the country. She has had plays produced in Virginia and Canada. One play, “Woman of Property,” won the GAIA award in the 2006 Moondance Film Festival. Her short stories have been published as a collection, and one story published in Redbook brought a two-year film option.  She has received two fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. In 1993, she won the Governor’s Screenwriting Competition, presented at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville.

THIRD AWARD:

In TEARDOWN by Jim Shankman, Ben and Jenny are an elderly couple who are trying desperately to keep a grip on things, little things like the upkeep of the house, big things like the basic facts of their life together.  When Ben discovers they are broke, he makes a deal with a strange and talkative contractor to sell their house as a teardown.  But Ben and Jenny find they can’t bring themselves to leave, and so the house is torn down around them while they are still in it. As the house comes down, pieces of their forgotten past come back to them in unexpected ways, including old secrets, lost loves and the grown children they haven’t seen in years.  The story of their life together is slowly, with pain and joy, revealed to them.    In the end even the yard is gone and there’s nothing left except the subfloor and the foundation floating in the void.   Ben and Jenny stand on the edge of their world.

 Jim Shankman of New York is an actor and the author of twenty-five plays.  Six of his plays have been produced in New York:  The Screenwriter Dies Of His Own Free Will won the Award for Outstanding Excellence in Playwriting at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival.  It is currently available as a podcast from the Ashland New Play Festival at Play4Keeps.org.  He performed his solo piece Kiss Your Brutal Hands at the United Solo Festival on Theatre Row where he won the festival’s Best Actor Award.  His plays have been developed in New York at The New Group, Abingdon Theatre, Emerging Artists, The Jewish Plays Project, T. Schreiber Studio, the Michael Howard Studio, New Jersey Rep and Penguin Rep.

PLAYWRIGHT COMPETITION FOR YOUTH THEATRE

MICHAEL J. LIBOW AWARDS

* * * 2019-2020 * * *

FIRST AWARD:

RADIOACTIVE by Barbara Heimburger: To earn service points for high school graduation, nine seniors at Paradise Valley Christian School agree to record biblical vignettes for middle school religion classes. As the old-time radio project proceeds, the seniors grapple with problems ranging from hacking the school’s computer to altering grades to dealing with a parent’s cancer to facing an unwanted pregnancy. The magnitude of these issues reveals their doubts about God. When the students realize that not all questions have answers, they make some progress with their beliefs—well, at least most of them do. And they also manage to record three amusing biblical scripts for the middle school.

Barbara Heimburger of Rancho Mirage, CA taught secondary-school English for thirty-three years; in 1991, she was a Walt Disney Company American Teacher Award Honoree in her field. In 2009, Contemporary Drama Service published Those Myth-behavin’ Greeks, five readers’ theater scripts. Lend Me Your Ears, her play based on Julius Caesar, won first prize in the 2011 Beverly Hills Theatre Guild’s Annual Play Competition for Youth Theater; in 2013, she and her writing partner placed second in the BHTG Annual Play Competition for Youth Theater with their modern take on Wuthering Heights. Additionally, she and her writing partner have co-authored three full-length librettos and several children’s plays. Ms. Heimburger earned her undergraduate degree from Harris Teachers College and two graduate degrees from Webster University.

SECOND AWARD:

THE ROYAL TOYS by Jessica S. Puller is an original fairy tale about being yourself, even when you think that isn’t good enough. It tells the story of Meg, a foreign princess, who comes to marry a prince and who believes that her wide-eyed sense of wonder and lack of dancing skill means that she’ll never be a good bride for him. The bell-jar ballerina in her music box, Ana, offers to switch places with Meg each night, during a three-day festival, in order to impress Prince Henri as a dancer. But during the day, Meg and Henri fall in love. On the third night, Ana refuses to switch back, and Meg must rely on her other toy friends, including a teddy bear, a train, and a jack-in-the-box, to undo the spell and save Henri from Ana’s clutches.

S. Puller from Chicago is a playwright, author and a two-time winner of the Marilyn Hall Play Competition for Youth Theatre. She has a master’s degree in elementary education and a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She is an award-winning member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and is actively involved in researching the social-emotional benefits of arts education with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. When not writing, she can usually be found in the theatre. Her first novel, CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE, was published by Disney Hyperion. Her play, WOMEN WHO WEAVE, was published by Playscripts, Inc.  http://www.facebook.com/puller.writer

THE JULIE HARRIS PLAYWRIGHT AWARDS

***2018 * * *

FIRST AWARD:

TAMING THE LION by Jack Rushen tells the true story of the contentious relationship between movie mogul Louis B. Mayer and William Haines, the first openly gay actor in the studio system in 1930. Afraid of being exposed and losing the studio, Mayer forces an ultimatum. Haines would either give up his relationship with lover Jimmie Sheilds and be required to marry a woman in a “Lavender Wedding,” or be forced to abandon his “star status” in Hollywood. Haines eventually walked away from the studio for the man he loved and became one of the richest and most loved interior decorators in Hollywood, thanks to help from his friend Joan Crawford.

 Jack Rushen of Stratford, CT is an actor, director, and playwright and celebrates more than 30 years working in stage, television, and film. He has previously won first place in the Julie Harris competition for his play, IMAGE, which has been seen in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, New York City, and soon in Greenville, South Carolina at Centre Stage. He has written four full length plays, over twenty short comedies and dramas, and two screenplays.   JackRushen.net

SECOND AWARD:

Cordially DisInvited by A.E.O. Goldman is a comedy of ill-manners. The ever-so-witty and notorious Mitford clan has gathered at the family compound in the English countryside, just before the outbreak of WWII.  Six amusing but exceedingly willful sisters vie for pre-eminence in wit, extravagant beauty, or just the last word. In this world apart, the concerns are about being the cleverest, making the best marriage, prominence in the grand family portrait, or who will make the best fascist. Nancy has just published her caustic novel skewering the family; the gorgeous Diana is juggling husbands; Jessica is flirting with fashionable socialism, and poor Unity has her rat and a crush on the fuhrer.  Inopportunely the turbulent outside world slowly invades, taking a terrible toll on humor and the family.

A.E.O. Goldman of New York, New York is the author of several award-winning comic dramas that somehow always veer into more serious territory. She’s Bad Today,a proto-feminist comedy was selected by The O’Neill Theater Center and performed in NYC at Actor’s Voyage East;  Fast!, about the speedup of everything, won The John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award, The Purgatory CO Playwriting Contest, was selected by The Edward Albee Theatre Conference and was performed in CO, NY [SoupstoneTheater] and CA [West Coast Ensemble Theatre]. Putzi’s Progress is a ‘cinematic’ comedy set in the Nazi film world and A Second Brilliance kicks off the Renaissance.  Articles by Mr. Goldman have appeared in The NY Times and the International Herald Tribune. A graduate of Amherst College [BA] and Harvard University [Masters], he is also a successful architect.

PLAY COMPETITION FOR YOUTH THEATRE

MICHAEL J. LIBOW AWARDS

* * * 2018 * * *

FIRST AWARD:

HAM-LETTE by Patti Veconi:  Just as the cast for this year’s play at River Valley High School is announced, a calamity occurs: the lighting rig in the school’s theater collapses, injuring the director and throwing the school’s show and entire theater program into jeopardy. It takes a capable and ambitious cast of high school actors to decide to put the show on themselves. (If only they could manage their offstage drama with as much skill!) With a strong message of empowerment for girls, this play includes coming of age challenges in the spirit of teamwork with both sincerity and levity, while paying homage to Shakespeare’s great play.

Patti Veconi of Brooklyn, NY is a middle school drama and music teacher in Brooklyn, NY where she has the privilege of working with brilliant, complicated and ever-inspiring adolescents. She holds theater degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University (BFA) and New York University (MA). Her plays for children and adults have been produced in schools and theater festivals around the country and abroad. Hamlet-lette is available through Heartland Scripts. Patti is also published with Eldridge, Heuer and Drama Notebook in the U.S. and Lazy Bee Scripts in the UK. She is the resident dramaturg with The Bechdel Group in NYC, an organization promoting roles for women in theater and film. http://www.pattiveconi.com  

SECOND AWARD:

WORDS to the WISE by Greg Minster: Unusual circumstances create an amazing contest between word masters extraordinaire Benjamin Franklin, and William Shakespeare.  Polling other historic characters whose stories fill the library where their words ‘haunt’, the pair of iconic ‘advice masters’ compete to determine just who, between the two of them, spoke the ‘wisest of words’. Costarring Queen Elizabeth I of England, and slave liberator Harriet Tubman, as contest referees.  Featuring notorious ax murderer Lizzy Borden as contest play by play announcer and score keeper. With special guest stars ‘ancient’ Greek philosophers Aristotle and Socrates, along with other ‘notables’ of history. A most extraordinary interaction of characters, WORDS to the WISE melds quirky comedy with philosophy, a few life lessons, and a bit of history.

Greg Minster, of Sheboygan, Wisconsin has written numerous novels of historic fiction.  His other plays include ‘Feeding the Wolf’, ‘Twelve Hours to Heaven’ (a work on the death of Abraham Lincoln), The Great Theater Sting, and ‘Charlie Meets Darwin’.   

A retired manufacturer’s sales representative and currently a substitute school teacher, Greg has a business degree from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, and has taken several off-campus writing courses from the University of Iowa. 

HONORABLE MENTION TO:

HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS by Dorothea Cahan of Philadelphia, PA

* * * 2017 * * * 

FIRST AWARD TO:

BILLY JOEL HOLDS THE KEY TO THE AFTERLIFE by Tess Light: Frances and Leo met, loved, married, hated, and divorced before their daughter Carmen was ever born, and then spent decades after locked in a battle for control — with Carmen as the battleground. So fierce is their competition that they even die almost simultaneously, leaving Carmen to weave together a family history using the only thread she’s got: their mutual love of Billy Joel. And while the Hindu deity Ganesh orchestrates the paths this family must take towards acceptance, Frances and Leo are stuck — together — in Limbo.

Tess Light of Los Alamos, NM has written plays that tend to incorporate any or all of the following: sarcasm, death, sarcastic death, Buddhism, foodism, poetry, song, and Shakespeare. She won the Arts & Letters Prize for Drama (EXPECTANT PAUSE, 2015) and Theatre Conspiracy’s New Play Contest (TOWER OF MAGIC 2012) and has been a semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwriting Conference (TO CONCEIVE GODS, 2015). Her most recent production was THE SUPPER HOUR IN HELL (Overtime Theater, San Antonio TX). Find her on the New Play Exchange: https://newplayexchange.org/users/979/tess-light or tesslight@comcast.net

SECOND AWARD TO:

ALL SAVE ONE by Greg Jones Ellis: Hollywood, 1950: Sims Glendenning, once the most celebrated British writer of his generation, fears his best work is behind him. Sims shares a home with his wife, Claire Morgan, a famous character actress. Their household is completed by Basil Steele, once Sims’s lover and now his faithful, if acid-tongued, secretary. When Sims engages a handsome young priest to serve as “technical advisor” on a new script, his mid-century anxiety may just be soothed by a conversion to Catholicism. But is he attracted to God or to the priest? Claire has a secret of her own: she is in love for the first time, and wants a divorce. When a brutal young hustler threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, rescue comes from the most unlikely of sources.

Greg Jones Ellis of Annapolis, MD wrote the comedy DIVINITY PLACE, which had its World Premiere production at the North Street Playhouse in 2017. Ellis has studied playwriting with Lucas Hnath and teaches a popular series called “10 Plays Everyone Should Know,” He wrote two seasons of host segments for the film anthology series ShortStories on A&E,, and published profile interviews with playwrights Marsha Norman and Paul Zindel for Biography magazine. His scholarly work includes a peer-reviewed article on the plays of Langston Hughes. He holds a B.A. in Drama from Catholic University and an M.A. in English from Salisbury University. gregjonesellis.com

THIRD AWARD TO:

ELEANOR TUESDAY by Tom Lavagnino: It’s 1930. A small-town Alabama Mayor attempts to broker a meeting between Eleanor Roosevelt (soon to be “First Lady”) and the acclaimed African-American scientist George Washington Carver (the “smartest man in Macon County”), but he finds his plan challenged — socially, politically, and (finally) personally — every step of the way.

Tom Lavagnino of West Hollywood, CA is a native of Indianapolis, a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (B.F.A.) and the AFI’s Center For Advanced Film Studies (M.F.A.), and is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and journalist. He is a former editor at 5th Street International Poker Magazine, his fiction has appeared in such publications as Barrelhouse, Square Lake, and triggerwarningshortfiction.com, and his numerous plays have been produced in 13 states (as well as the U.K.). Tom co-wrote the 2015 film HOME SWEET HELL for Sony Entertainment, and his favorite sound is laughter. www.tomlavagnino.com

PLAY COMPETITION FOR YOUTH THEATRE

MICHAEL LIBOW AWARDS IN MEMORY OF MARILYN HALL

* * * 2017* * *

FIRST AWARD TO:

THE BOW WOW DETECTIVES by Todd Wallinger: No bones about it! Something mysterious is happening in Dogtown and the Bow Wow Detective Agency is on the case! Sherlock Bones is a bloodhound with a nose for crime and a weakness for bacon. Sam Spayed is a German Shepherd eager to prove herself after getting booted off the police force. And Frisky is a yippy little terrier who’s afraid of everything. When the detectives are hired to locate a missing bone, they think it’s just another routine case—until they find a hairball on the scene. This puzzling clue draws them into the furry underbelly of Dogtown, where the doggy denizens are starting to display some bizarre behavior: they meow and crave cream! It takes Frisky to solve this cat-astrophic case, defeating the evil Alley Cat Gang while learning that the only way to conquer your fears is to face them head on. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Todd Wallinger of Gilbert, AZ is a three-time winner of the Marilyn Hall Award, having previously won in 2014 and 2015. His plays have received more than 700 productions in 48 states and 10 countries. Twelve of his plays are published by Pioneer Drama Service. His latest release, The Enchanted Bookshop, has quickly become one of the most popular plays in the country, booking over 100 productions in its first few months of publication. Todd is now adapting it into a screenplay. His website is at http://www.toddwallinger.com.

SECOND AWARD TO:

Sumi’s House by Kate Anger: An old woman, Sumi Harada, lives alone in her family’s home surrounded by a lifetime of artifacts—“musty old junk,” as she calls it. When graduate student Chris Lopez shows up to get help with her thesis on the Japanese in Riverside, CA, Sumi tries to shoo her away. Not giving up, Chris shares her own tale of family hardship, which persuades Sumi to let her in. When the women open an old family trunk, the past comes alive, and Sumi moves between the past and present, reliving, along with her family members, and a magical boar, their historic struggle for justice—from the California Supreme Court, where Jukichi Harada fought to keep the home he purchased in the names of his American born children, to the family’s incarceration in WWII.

Kate Anger of Riverside, CA is a playwright, short story writer and non-fiction essayist, currently finishing her first novel. Her plays have been produced around the Inland Empire region, as well as Los Angeles. For seven years, Kate was involved with the Gluck Program for the Arts at UC Riverside, where she teaches, writing plays that toured local schools, bringing theatre to thousands of under-served students.

HONORABLE MENTION TO:

THE ROYAL TOYS by Jessica Puller of Chicago, IL

THE BEST MOST SUPER FANTASTIC HIKING TOUR by Fay Corinotis of Staten Island, NY

ONE OF THE THOUSAND FACES by Jason Paris

GREYFRIARS BOBBY WAGS HIS TALE by Peter Turner

THE JULIE HARRIS PLAYWRIGHT AWARD

* * * 2016 * **

FIRST AWARD TO:

THE CAPTIVES by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich: Professor is a closeted artist/female academic at an Ohio university, who paints images of death-row meals on china plates. She creates each plate after the executions — without meeting the prisoners. Pressured by her tenure committee, she now has her first face-to-face with a convicted killer, a Texas inmate who’s about to die. THE CAPTIVES is inspired by the work of artist Julie Green and the botched 2014 execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton D. Lockett. All characters in this work are fictitious.

Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich of Boston, MA: Recent productions: Sister Sister (Northern Light Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), Romeo Chang (Overtime Theatre, San Antonio, ATAC Globe Award), and Big City (Trustus Theatre, Columbia, SC, 2016 New Playwrights Festival Winner), NYC play development at Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, Rattlestick. Other regional development/productions include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geva Theatre, and Victory Gardens. Published by Smith & Kraus and Indie Theater Now. barbarablumenthalehrlich.com

SECOND AWARD TO:                                                                                      

BELOW THE NAVEL, ABOVE THE KNEE by William Missouri Downs: IDr. Helen Hand is drowning in student debt, the repo man is stalking her Saab, and she has zero prospects. What the hell was she thinking getting a PhD in English? So when Grace Bible College calls offering her a teaching job she drunkenly agrees to leave Berkeley California and move to rural Kansas. The problem – she’s an agnostic and gluten intolerant. She enters a world of rigid moral rules: no smoking, no alcohol, no interracial dating, and no sex so she sets out to take this fundamentalist college into the twenty-first century. This small cast comedy looks at our need for faith and doubt and comes up with a surprising conclusion about both.

William Missouri Downs of Richards Park, WY has had 150 productions of his plays and won numerous writing awards including two rolling premieres from National New Play Network (The Exit Interview &Women Playing Hamlet). He’s twice been a finalist at the Eugene O’Neill (Mad Gravity & How To Steal A Picasso). Samuel French and Playscripts have published his plays. He’s directed dozens of plays, co-written four books (including Naked Playwriting &The Art Of Theatre) and written for several NBC television shows. a Downs@me.com

THIRD AWARD TO:

LITTLE ISLAND OF JOY by Christopher Carlson: takes place in 1916 when the blind and deaf Helen Keller was arguably the most famous woman in America, author of best-selling books, a highly paid national speaker with her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, and a radical socialist who spoke out forcefully against President Wilson’s plan for the United States to enter the war against Germany. Her traveling secretary was Peter Fagan, a like-

minded radical. One auspicious day, Peter communicated to Helen that he cared for her deeply and wanted them to marry, which both surprised and delighted her. If only those closest to her might have seen her love for him, understood her desire for marriage and children; instead they protested her innocence and purity would be lost with Peter. They were the blind ones whose ears turned deaf at her pleas and cries for a home with a husband. Many years later, Helen wrote about this passionate, and secret, love affair, referring to it as “my little island of joy, surrounded by dark water.”

Christopher Carlson of Los Angeles is the writer of numerous screenplays, including HOMECOMING, a film starring Anne Bancroft, nominated by the Writers Guild for Best Long Form Adaptation. He also wrote Puddlejumpers, a fantasy-mystery novel published by Hyperion Books for Children. He studied playwriting under Murray Mednick at the Padua Hills Workshop. LITTLE ISLAND OF JOY was also a semi-finalist for the 2016 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. cccarl@mac.com.

PLAY COMPETITION FOR YOUTH THEATRE
MARILYN HALL AWARDS

* * * 2016 * * *

FIRST AWARD TO:

THE PRINCESS PARODIES by John Woodard: A hilarious fractured fairy-tale romp featuring Snow White and Cinderella, with guest appearances by Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid! Both parents and children alike are sure to laugh as Snow White’s Evil Stepmother (A replica of Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond who used to be in Silent Fairy Tales) tries to do away with Snow White with a poisoned Apple Juice Box. Meanwhile–Cinderella is hard at work cleaning the home of her Evil Stepfather. Yes–Evil STEPFATHER. Not to stereotype all fairy tale stepmothers. Leading to the important lesson that being yourself is the best road to living happily ever after.

John Woodard of Los Angeles, CA. got his start writing children’s costumed character productions. His first musical “The Berenstien Bears Slammin’ Jammin’ Revue” toured malls throughout the United States and Canada. His children’s play “The Fairy Tale Network” is currently a best seller performing across the country with Pioneer Drama Service. He has also won a variety of screenplay contests in multiple genres including the Scriptapalooza Screenplay Grand Prize, The Rhode Island International Grand Jury Prize, Story Pros, Slamdance, and Honolulu Film Awards among others. JohnWoodardLA@gmail.com

SECOND AWARD TO:

THE SUM OF ME by Richard Manley: Crandal lost her father in Afghanistan last year. Without much of an education, her mother works two jobs to make ends meet, and fears for her bright young daughter’s future in a world where the good guys seldom win. Fortunately, Crandal has a funny old grandmother with time on her hands, a house full of books, and lots

of affection. As Crandal starts the ninth grade her grandmother’s health takes a very sharp turn for the worse, and Crandal’s forced to face the fact that she’s never learned to trust anyone but Nanna, not even herself. This play explores the difficulty of one teenager’s search for identity and confidence amidst the trolls and trials of a modern American high school experience.

Richard Manley of San Francisco has been writing plays for adults and teenagers for almost ten years. Nine full-length plays and four one-acts have been produced in Manhattan and on both coasts. He has won or been a finalist in over 40 national and international (UK, CAN) writing competitions. His themes celebrate the lonely people, those who struggle to feel relevant in an ever more impersonal world fight, but who, through it all, are able to remain curious and to live their lives with a degree of grace. antiqueroman@yahoo.com

HONORABLE MENTION TO:

THE LAST RADIO SHOW by Todd Wallinger of Colorado Springs, CO
THE COMEDY OF SHAKESPEAREAN ERRORS by Erik V. Petrushun of Ewing, NJ
TOGETHERNESS by Jeff Stolzer of New York, NY
OUR OWN BACKYARD by Rachel Lopez of Reno, NV

THE JULIE HARRIS PLAYWRIGHT AWARD

* * * 2015 * * * 

FIRST AWARD TO:

THE CONSUL, THE TRAMP, AND AMERICA’S SWEETHEART by John Morogiello: On the eve of World War II, Georg Gyssling, the nazi consul to Hollywood, confronts Mary Pickford, the silent film star and co-founder of United Artists, to stop production on Charlie Chaplin’s controversial first talkie, The Great Dictator. Gyssling succeeds until war is declared and the movie is needed to buck up the allies.

JOHN MOROGIELLO: is a Playwright in Residence at the Maryland State Arts Council and a member of The Dramatists Guild. Plays include Engaging Shaw and Blame It On Beckett, both of which have been published by Samuel French. Other plays include Play Date, Stonewall’s Bust, Irish Authors Held Hostage, Men and Parts, Gianni Schicchi, and The Matchmaker’s Guide to Controlling the Elements. Happy Hour, a film adaptation of Men and Parts, was named Best Short Comedy at the 2003 New York Independent Film and Video Festival. Other awards include: 2015 Boomerang Fund for Artists Grant, The Kennedy Center Fellowship of the Americas, Holland New Voices Playwright Award (Great Plains Theatre Conference), Mountain Playhouse International Comedy Playwriting Award, and Baltimore Magazine’s “Best Up and Coming Playwright.”

SECOND AWARD TO:                                                                                      

THE WIDOW OF TOM’S HILL by Aleks Merilo: In 1918, the small coastal town of Tom’s Hill, Washington, awakens to find itself quarantined after the outbreak of a plague that would become known as the great influenza. When a solitary Sailor approaches the dock, the town elects to send Aideen, a 19-year-old widow, to liaison with him. The sailor’s cold manner is interrupted when he sees what Aiden carries: a newborn baby. What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse between two youths whose connection moves from compassion, to infatuation, to devastation.

Aleks Merilo of Portland, OR is a playwright and drama teacher there. His winning play for the BHTG is scheduled for production at 59E59 Theaters in NYC, Fall of 2015. Other plays include BLUR IN THE REAR VIEW, which won the James Rodgers Playwriting Contest and premiered at the University of Kentucky, Lexington and LITTLE MOSCOW, which won the Dubuque Playwriting Contest, performed at the Labute New Play Festival. His plays have been developed with the aide of The Furious Theater at the Pasadena Playhouse, Old Globe Theater, Portland Center Stage Fertile Ground Festival, Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Ross Valley Players, The Moving Arts Theater, Luna Stage, and Portland Readers Theater. He holds a BA in Theater, and an MFA in playwriting from The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.

THIRD AWARD TO:

CORAL GABLES by Brian Raine: : In the late 1950s a young Polish war refugee wrote a bestselling book about her experiences. Now, after many years of sequestered living in Coral Gables, Florida, she has a collection of short stories ready for publication. Her daughter is determined to see the stories published, and has arranged a meeting with a literary agent from New York. But the elderly mother tends to wander off the subject, and could unwittingly reveal secrets that might unravel their carefully crafted facade.

Brian Raine of Burbank, CA has more than thirty years working in all phases of live theatre administration, including production budgeting, theatre management, marketing, advertising, special events promotion, subscription and sales. The author of 17 plays, he is at present working on a biography of Broadway composer Albert Hague, and a marketing work, Keep the Line Moving, addressing today’s shifting audiences and way to hold them for the bows. He is a Board Member of the Santa Monica Theatre Guild, a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights.

PLAY COMPETITION FOR YOUTH THEATRE
MARILYN HALL AWARDS

* * * 2015 * * *

FIRST AWARD TO:

HOW I MET YOUR MUMMY by Todd Wallinger: The O. Howe Dulle Museum is about to unveil their latest find–a mysterious mummy named Yo-Wut-Sup–and everyone wants to get their hands on him! A pushy reporter vows to prove Yo-Wut-Sup is a hoax. A wacky mystic intends to sneak him back to Egypt. Three high school students want to use him in their low-budget horror film. And two clueless robbers plan to steal the mummy, if only they can figure out what one looks like. Can Melvin Trimble, the world’s most cowardly security guard, stop them? Or will he be left taking the “wrap”?

Todd Wallinger of Colorado Springs, CO: Last year he also won the 2014 Marilyn Hall Award with his play, Rumpelstiltskin Private Eye. He has had more than 150 productions in 43 states plus Canada, Australia, South Korea and the UK. Five of his plays are published by Pioneer Drama Service. Kill the Critic! took 2nd place in the 2013 Robert J. Pickering Award for Playwriting Excellence and 2nd place in the 2013 McLaren Memorial Comedy Playwriting Competition. Long Tall Lester won the 2011 New Rocky Mountain Voices Competition. Todd teaches playwriting at the Colorado State Thespian Conference and serves with the Colorado Theatre Guild as a judge for their annual Henry Awards.

SECOND AWARD TO:

AT LIBERTY HALL by JAMES CHRISTY:  The story of a teenage boy, Cristian, who is from the Dominican Republic, attending an inner-city school in New Jersey. His tenth grade history project is about Alexander Hamilton. Cristian is amazed to learn that Hamilton as a teenager also came from the islands and attended school in New Jersey, At Liberty Hall he visits the Hamilton room where he hides a letter in a desk. When he tries to retrieve it, he finds a letter from young Hamilton in 1773. They become pen pals spanning centuries as they communicate dreams, politics, girlfriends. Each boy is impacted by the other. This correspondence convinces Cristian to stay in school and, maybe, he might have a chance to apply to Princeton University.

James Christy of Princeton, NJ has plays that include NEVER TELL, produced by Broken Watch Theater and published by Playscripts; A GREAT WAR, finalist 2012 Julie Harris Playwrighting Award; LOVE AND COMMUNICATION: Playpenn Playwrights Conference, produced by Passage Theatre in October 2010, winner, the Brown Martin Barrymore Award in 2011. His play CREEP won Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award for best short play in 2001. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild.

HONORABLE MENTION TO:

CHASING OPHELIA by Doug Schutte of Louisville, KY
THE BOX OF STORIES by Jessica Puller of Chicago IL
TOTALLY OKAY, RIGHT NOW by Madelyn Sergel of Gurnee, IL
THE MAGNIFICENT NINE by John Byrne of Albany, NY

THE JULIE HARRIS PLAYWRIGHT AWARD

* * * 2014 * * * 

FIRST AWARD TO: IMAGE by Jack Rushen

SECOND AWARD TO: THE SHABBOS GOY by Steven Peterson

THIRD AWARD TO: GOOD by James McLindon

PLAY COMPETITION FOR YOUTH THEATRE
MARILYN HALL AWARDS

* * * 2014 * * *

FIRST AWARD TO: RUMPELSTILTSKIN, PRIVATE EYE by Todd Wallinger