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City Theatre announces winners of 2016 Young Playwrights Contest


Last updated 7/4/2016 at 6:58pm

City Theatre has announced the winners of its 2016 Young Playwrights Contest.

The playwrights will develop their scripts in collaboration with professional theatre artists for production on City Theatre’s Hamburg Studio stage during the 17th Annual Young Playwrights Festival, November 30 – December 9. The winning one-act plays and honorable mentions were selected from more than 300 Young Playwrights Contest submissions, written by local middle and high school students.

Middle School Winners:

“Endangered Hope” by Abigail Over, Keystone Oaks Middle School.

A flock of rare Evening Grosbeak birds struggles to survive a harsh winter and encroaching human plans for the forest they inhabit. Thoughtful and compelling, Endangered Hope explores family, perseverance, and the dangers of climate change from a feathered perspective.

“The Magic Pencil” by Julia Garhart and Brenna Sposito, Sharpsville Middle School.

Can a curse be inherited? Ellison and Nicolette are best friends and classmates, but when a unique gift from Nicolette’s aunt precipitates a series of strange occurrences, their bond is tested. The girls soon come face to face with a shared history that stretches back to the Salem Witch Trials in this taut, suspenseful play.

“Running From Grief” by Jacob Voelker, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12.

Ryan, an all-star cross-country runner, begins volunteering at a local nursing home in hopes of bolstering his chances of admittance to the college of his dreams. He is assigned to work with the cantankerous Henry and the pair forge an unlikely bond in this heartwarming story about the power of friendship.

High School Winners:

“Discount Shelf” by Cavan Bonner, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12. 

The Discount Shelf is the last stop for unwanted used books. In this funny, imaginative play we meet a host of novels—from a text book to a crime fiction paperback—vying to make it off the shelf and into the hands of a new reader.

“Inbox Full” by Mehrnaz Tiv, North Allegheny Senior High School.

A lively romantic comedy set in San Francisco, Inbox Full introduces us to neighbors Adam Truth and Alex Truth (no relation). Adam, a struggling writer, and Alex, a gallery curator on the rise, are always getting (and reading) each other’s mail. This leads to a series of mix-ups, mistaken identities, and missed connections, with a climatic finish at Alex’s hot new exhibit.

“The Sunflower” by Katrina Kudla, Moon Area High School.

 Julien is desperate to prove himself to his future mother in law, Basha. In an attempt to curry favor, he arrives at her pierogi shop offering assistance with the hopes of some culinary bonding. This heartfelt, entertaining play explores the meaning of family and the price of assimilation in one tiny Pittsburgh kitchen.

City Theatre will also feature readings of three plays that were selected as 2016 Young Playwrights Contest Honorable Mentions:

“Life Out of the Sea” by Megan Stafford, Fox Chapel Area High School.

“Puzzled” by Olivia Wright, Lakeview High School.

“The Veins of Creation” by Sarah Tomko, Bentworth High School.

“We are continually in awe of the level of creativity exhibited by the playwrights in our contest,” said Kristen Link, City Theatre’s director of Education and Accessibility. “By far, the most difficult job we have is narrowing down the list of winners when there are so many interesting plays to choose from. This year’s festival promises to be extra exciting with stories ranging from the Salem Witch Trials to anthropormorhized birds and books to heartwarming stories of love, family, and friendship.”

 “Part of what makes the Young Playwrights program so special is the way it leads playwrights through the revision process,” said Clare Drobot, director of New Play Development. “Each winner is paired with a dramaturg who serves as a playwriting mentor, helping to ready their script for the festival. Having access to a working professional provides a unique window into the new play development world and it’s thrilling on our end to foster the next generation of writers.”

Young Playwrights is City Theatre’s comprehensive, dynamic approach to arts education serving teachers, students, and the Pittsburgh community. The program fulfills state and Common Core academic standards, including Arts and Humanities and English Language Arts.

Four major components make up the Young Playwrights program: the Young Playwrights Teacher Institute, In-School Workshops, the Young Playwrights Contest, and the Young Playwrights Festival.

 The Young Playwrights Contest is open to students in grades 7-12 from schools in Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia. All writers who submit scripts that adhere to Contest guidelines receive an evaluation that includes constructive criticism and suggestions for future development from a literary committee comprised of 50 local and national theatre professionals.

 Young Playwrights Festival tickets will go on sale August 15 for $10 for students and $15 for adults.

Each performances includes three middle or high school selections.

Buy tickets at the City Theatre Box Office, by calling 412.31.CITY or at


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