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Young Playwrights Festival

Watch your words come alive

Wharton Center’s Young Playwrights Festival gives Michigan high school students the opportunity to see their one-act plays brought to life on the Pasant Theatre stage.

Young playwrights work with mentors in the industry to hone and polish their original works, watching them transform into staged productions directed and performed by MSU Department of Theatre students.

Playwrights illuminate what excites or angers them. With YPF, these aspiring dramatists have access to vital mentoring and experience early in their development.

To be that age and have such professional treatment of your words and a professional venue for their performance is the most affirming thing possible for someone who sees a career in writing.

Hanel Baveja, three-time YPF winner

Ready to write?

Michigan high school students are invited to submit a one-act play to Wharton Center’s annual juried competition. Six original works, written by high school students, will be chosen to be produced by students from MSU’s Department of Theatre and performed on the Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre stage.

The finalists will each be assigned a professional theater 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. Six semifinalists will receive a $100 award.


To be eligible, each participant must:

  • Be a Michigan high school student in grades 9-12.
  • Be sponsored by a teacher willing to serve as the liaison between Wharton Center, the school, and the student applicant.
  • Submit an application form with script. Parent, sponsoring teacher 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.)


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.

March 27, 2020 - The health and safety of Wharton Center patrons, students, and staff is the Center’s top priority. Because of that, Wharton Center is canceling the 2020 Young Playwrights Festival scheduled for Saturday, May 9, 2020. Students who submitted plays have been notified of the cancellation.

The Young Playwrights Festival is made possible in part by MSU Federal Credit Union, University Outreach and Engagement, and Wharton Center Inner Circle.