Calling young playwrights!

2020 Spotlight  Youth Theatre Playfest Competition

The Spotlight Playfest Competition is for young adult playwrights to create a one-act (short) play for young actors. Every writer who enters will receive custom feedback from dramatists at SYT about the strengths of their play and challenges to work on.

Three winners of the competition will receive a $100 prize! The winning plays will be announced July 31, 2020.

The goal: Put your creativity to work while theatres are closed, and see your play produced on the Spotlight stage in the next season!

Be sure to read all directions and requirements, and then click to register at the bottom of this page.

Requirements for Entry:

  • The deadline is July 10, 2020.
  • The contest is open to playwrights ages 16-22 (as of the contest deadline).
  • The playwright must reside in the metropolitan area of Phoenix, Arizona.
  • The entry fee is $5 per script. This is treated as a non-returnable donation to Spotlight. Each playwright may enter more than one play, at $5 per entry.
  • For each play submission, the playwright must (1) submit a registration form with fee, and (2) separately send the script as an email attachment to (See format and registration link below.)
  • Playwrights may work as teams, but only one $100 prize is to be awarded per winning play.
  • By entering the contest, participants agree to allow Spotlight Youth Theatre one production of their play if they win. Winners agree to give Spotlight permission to “workshop” the play with the playwright, for necessary changes at the director’s discretion. Winners also agree to give permission to Spotlight to create video and photography to share with theatregoers, and to otherwise promote the Spotlight production as usual. All writers retain ownership/copyright of their original work, aside from agreeing to those permissions.

Requirements of the Play:

  • The run time of the play must be no less than 15 minutes, and no longer than 30 minutes. Time your play before submitting it, by reading aloud, pacing through it, etc.
  • The play must be written for a cast of no fewer than 5, and no more than 9 actors. There may be more characters only if it is written for some actors to play multiple characters. 
  • The theme of Spotlight’s first Playfest is “Go the Distance.” The challenge for each writer is to create a work that is “outbreak proof” with a small cast that can perform the entire story with physical distancing. This can mean either that the characters are in a situation where they have a reason to remain a few feet apart from each other, or for some other clever excuse, they remain a few feet apart by coincidence.
  • Physical set changes must be minimized (perhaps no more than moving chairs, boxes, etc.). Each play should require no more than a single, simple set. However, it is acceptable to suggest changes of scene that may be shown in a media projection upstage.

Theme and Content:

  • No licensed material. For example, it can’t be a new Star Wars chapter, continue the adventures of Harry Potter, or adapt any other famous franchise/book/show that is under copyright. 
  • Musicals are optional, but all songs and music must be original. (An exception is if a very old piece of music in the public domain is part of the story.) Recordings of music and songs must be attached with play submission.
  • Writers are encouraged to address themes that are important to them. All genres are welcome. Judges will look for a variety of works including:
    • Children’s theatre: for actors ages 8-19, to entertain everyone, but with a priority on reaching audience members ages 5-12, with ageless characters and storybook fantasy. Examples include A Year with Frog and Toad and Anansi the Spider.
    • Family theatre: for actors ages 8-19, mixing themes that equally appeal to children and adults, usually with both child and adult characters. Examples include A Christmas Story and The Secret Garden
    • Teen theatre: for actors ages 13-19, including conflicts and characters relatable to ages 13 and up; this might include material less suited for small children such as social and family conflicts, romance, horror, etc. Examples include Romeo and Juliet and John Lennon and Me.

Submission and Format:

  • First, register for the contest and pay the fee. We believe it may be helpful for you to “commit” to finishing the play by registering early, even if that means you email the play to us closer to the deadline date.
  • Put the play in .doc or .rtf format that may be opened and edited. 
  • Omit your name and by-line from the file that you attach. You will be anonymous to the judges in the contest, at least initially, when they read the play. Obviously, your by-line should be included on your original file kept for yourself. Reminder, playwrights retain the copyright on original work by law, and Spotlight will never “own” the play submissions.
  • Formatting the play with picky tabs and margins is not important, but the script must be as easy to read as most printed plays. For example, each character’s dialogue should at least appear on separate lines, as in “NAME: Dialogue…” format. Obviously, standard format is also welcome.
  • Include a page that lists characters and their descriptions.
  • Include a summary that describes the story, the intended audience of the play, and set description.
  • Aside from basic actions and moods that are required to follow the story, it is best to provide minimal acting directions in the flow of the script. In-depth explanations of characters and other complex details — if needed — may be provided with the summary and character descriptions.
  • Include your full name and title of the play in a cover letter in the email, so that the Managing Director can number your submission and keep track of which one is yours.
  • Email the script to by July 10, 2020.