Calling young playwrights!

Spotlight Playfest 2021-’22 Young Playwrights’ Competition

Congratulations to all entrants in the contest, and to the winning playwrights! See the winning plays described on the Playfest 2021-’22 page. Contest details remain posted here for information only. We encourage young playwrights to keep next year’s contest in mind, and begin writing early! 

Spotlight Youth Theatre’s annual 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.

Up to three winners of the competition will receive a $100 prize! Entry deadline was Jul. 31. 

Dream it. Think it. Create it …and see the work of new writers produced on the Spotlight stage in the 2021-2022 season!

Click and read all directions below. To enter, click Open Entry Form at the end of the directions.

Requirements for Entry

  • The deadline is July 31, 2021.
  • Open to playwrights ages 16-22 (as of Aug. 2021) residing in the greater metro area of Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Playwrights may enter more than once, but each play requires a separate entry.
  • The fee is $5 per entry (as a donation to SYT). If you’re unable to enter because of the fee, please contact about your circumstances.
  • Playwrights may enter as teams, but only one $100 prize will be awarded for each winning play.
  • By entering, participants agree to allow Spotlight Youth Theatre one production of their play (example: a two-weekend run of Playfest) if they win. This includes workshopping/editing the play as needed with the director, and permission for Spotlight to create photography and video of the production for online streaming. While agreeing to those permissions, all writers retain ownership/copyright of their work to re-stage, publish, or license to others in the future.
  • Winners must be personally available for awards and publicity.

Requirements of the Play

  • The run time of the play must be between 15 and 35 minutes
  • Write for a cast of 5 to 9 actors. There may be more characters, if some actors may play multiple roles. 
  • Minimize set changes, beyond the moving of small furniture. A single rough set is best for Playfest. However, you may suggest changes of scenery that we can project on a backdrop upstage.

Theme and Content

  • No licensed material! The play can’t be a new Star Wars chapter. It can’t continue the adventures of Harry Potter. It must not explicitly adapt any other famous franchise, book, show, or characters that are protected by copyrights held by others. That includes almost all properties created in the last century. Satires that don’t violate copyright, as well as adaptations of older public domain stories, are fair game. Those plays will be judged on the fresh vision and new life added to stories and tropes that are otherwise old and familiar.
  • Musicals are optional, but all songs and music must be original. An exception is if an old piece of music in the public domain is part of the story — such as a character practicing Mozart during a music lesson. For plays with original music, recordings of original music and songs are required. These files may be emailed separately to after completing the regular contest entry.
  • Writers are encouraged to address themes that are important to them. All genres are welcome. Judges will look for a wide variety of works, possibly appealing to different age groups.

Submission and Format

  • Commit to finishing the play. If you haven’t written it already, start early and prepare to submit your best.
  • Put the play in .doc, .docx or .rtf format that may be edited later. 
  • Omit your name / by-line from the file that you attach, to hide your identity initially from the judges. (We aim to be impartial.) 
  • Make the script as easy to read as most published plays. Each character’s dialogue should (at least) appear on separate lines, as in “NAME: Dialogue…” format. Traditional script format (more lines and margins) is also welcome, although we aren’t picky about it. Here is an example originally published by City Theatre Company of Pittsburgh, PA.
  • At the beginning of the script, include:
    • Character list with descriptions
    • Story summary, with intended audience of the play, and set description.
  • Minimize acting directions in the script, beyond actions and overt moods in parentheses. In-depth explanations of characters and other complex details may be provided with the summary, character descriptions, and set description added to the beginning of the script.
  • Click the button below to submit a contest entry and script by July 31, 2021.
  • Email if you have any questions.