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Young Playwrights Festival

Watch your words come alive

Wharton Center for Performing Arts and the MSU Department of Theatre are happy to announce the 27th Annual Young Playwrights Festival. The Young Playwrights Festival is a showcase of six original works, written by high school students, produced by students from MSU’s Department of Theatre and performed on the Pasant Theatre stage at Wharton Center for Performing Arts.

27th Annual Young Playwright’s Festival

Saturday, May 14, 2022, 2:00pm
Open admission

This year’s plays feature a wide variety of themes, including a contemporary version of the Medea story, a satire of English Victorian life, a murder mystery, the struggles of mental illness, a political thriller, and a reflection of high school student life.

More Info

Michigan high school students are invited to submit a one-act play to a juried competition. Twelve semifinalists are chosen, and from those 12 the jury will select the six finalists whose plays will be produced. The six finalists will each be assigned a professional theatre mentor who will assist the playwright with revising their play. Each finalist will receive a $200 award and a staged production of their play performed by the MSU Department of Theatre at Wharton Center. The other six semifinalists will receive a $100 award.

How to Enter


To be eligible, each participant must:

  • Be a Michigan high school student in grades 9-12.
  • Submit an application form with script. Parent/legal guardian and student signatures are required.
  • Finalists must be willing to work with an assigned professional theatre mentor to review their play; writers who cannot commit to revising their plays will have their eligibility revoked.


  • Scripts must be in Microsoft Word format:
  • All pages must be numbered.
  • Separate different characters’ dialogue by one blank line.
  • (NOTE: No student names should be on the scripts as they are sent to judges anonymously.)
  • Please number the pages


All plays must:

  • Be original works.
  • Have no more than four characters.
  • Require only simple props, costumes, settings, and effects.
  • Have a maximum length of 12 pages.

All required forms and sample script format are available in a Student Information Packet.

Failure to meet any of the rules or guidelines will be grounds for disqualification from the festival. Judges’ decisions are final. Awards are not transferable.

Festival Highlights

Friday, December 10, 2021
Script Entry Deadline

  • Download a Student Information Packet that includes entry rules, required forms and a sample script format from www.whartoncenter.com/ypf.
  • Scripts must be electronically submitted in Microsoft Word format by Friday, December 10, 2021.
  • Application form must be signed by student, sponsoring teacher, and parent or guardian and returned with scripts.
  • Playwright must be a Michigan high school student in grades 9-12 to enter.
  • Scripts must be original works. 
  • See Script Submission Rules at whartoncenter.com/ypf for complete details.

January 2022

  • Twelve semifinalist playwrights chosen to work with a MSU Department of Theatre faculty member to prepare their script for a second reading.

February 2022

  • Six finalists are selected and announced by February 21, 2022.
  • Playwrights and mentors begin work on revising the play.

Monday, April 18, 2022
Attendance required. Masks will be required based on CDC guidelines. 
4PM – 6PM

  • Playwrights and directors meet at Wharton Center.
  • Playwrights and mentors complete work on the plays. Plays are sent to the MSU Department of Theatre for preparation for rehearsal.

Friday, May 13, 2022
Attendance required. Masks will be required based on CDC guidelines. 
5PM – 10PM

  • Playwrights and mentors gather at Wharton Center in the early evening to watch a dress rehearsal of the plays followed by a brief discussion. Dinner provided.

Saturday, May 14, 2022
Attendance required. Masks will be required based on CDC guidelines.
2PM Free Public Performance
Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center for Performing Arts

  • Post-performance reception, Recognition and Awards Ceremony

Saturday, May 14, 2022
Attendance required. Masks will be required based on CDC guidelines.
5PM – 9PM Artists Forum and Dinner
Christman Lounge, Wharton Center for Performing Arts

  • Playwrights, mentors, directors, actors, and guests come together for a moderated discussion of the six plays. Dinner provided by Wharton Center.

Monday, May 16, 2022
Attendance is optional. Masks will be required based on CDC guidelines.
10AM  Free High School Performance
Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center for Performing Arts 

  • All participating teachers are encouraged to attend and may RSVP to laurie.briseno@whartoncenter.com by April 25, 2022.


Finalists will work with professional theatre mentors to revise their plays before they are rehearsed.

  • Thomas Cote
    Artistic Director of The Workshop Theatre
    New York City
  • Joe Giardina 
    New York City Theatre Artist
  • Jill Holden
    L.A. Based Theatre Artist
  • Patrick Hunter
  • Robert Post
    Actor/Writer, Director
  • Elizabeth Wong
    LA based playwright

Mentors are subject to change.


Script Entry Deadline
December 10, 2021

Semifinalists Announced
January 2022

Finalists Announced 
February 21, 2022

Free Public Performance
Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre 
Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 2:00pm

Free High School Performance
Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre
Monday, May 16, 2022 at 10:00am
Made possible in part by Wharton Center Inner Circle

The best plays have something to say. The best plays reveal something that we may  already know, but in a unique way or with a different slant. Plays have a chance to move, repel or unite audiences. A play with a clear purpose, a clear premise, a clear  message is always the best for me.

Playwrights have a chance to illuminate whatever excites or angers them. Playwrights can always look for inspiration in their own lives, but they have a responsibility to shape these events into a unique message. Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), know what you want to say.  

Rob J. Roznowski
Professor of Theatre/Head of Acting and Directing, Michigan State University

Generously supported by MSU Federal Credit Union; MSU University Outreach and Engagement; and Wharton Center Inner Circle.