Young Playwrights Festival

Submission Deadline:  Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Festival:  May 11-13, 2018

  • Are you between the ages of 12 - 18 and in middle school or high school?
  • Have you ever written a play or had an idea for one?
  • Would you like to see a play of yours workshopped by professionals and presented at the world-renowned Eugene O'Neill Theater Center?

The Young Playwrights Festival takes place each spring at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.  If your play is selected for the Festival, you will work with a creative team composed of a director, dramaturg, designer, and actors to develop and stage your script.

The development process for each script will draw on the techniques used during the O'Neill's renowned professional summer play development conferences.  Through these methods, you will have the opportunity to take your creative writing project to the next step, by moving from the initial isolation of writing to the collaborative process of making your script into a living, breathing play.

You should expect a vibrant discussion of your work, professional and helpful artists with whom to work, full rehearsals with your artistic team, and opportunities to re-write and re-work your play.  The Festival culminates in a script-in-hand public reading of your work.

All selected playwrights must be available for the entire duration of the Festival. The O'Neill does not provide housing or travel for Festival attendees.

Advice to Young Playwrights

Dramatic writing is visual writing: A play is different from a novel or a short story in that it is meant to be performed.  A playwright must always focus on what the stage will look like once it is live.  This can be a point of real creativity: if you want to set it in a kitchen, set it in a kitchen.  If you prefer the moon, set it on the moon.

Drama is conflict: Somebody has a desire, and something stands in their way.  It sounds vague, but it's the essence of drama.

Don't over-explain: Once you lose an audience, it's almost impossible to get them back.  So keep things going forward, and don't pause to explain.  The audience may get confused, but a little confusion can be fun.  And exposition is never dramatic.

Strange events permit themselves the luxury of occurring: You've probably been exposed to Realism, with a big R. Realism was a movement that sought to represent "real life" on stage. When it debuted in the late 1800s, it caused riots.  It's been the American formula for over 60 years.


You don't have to follow that.  You can have a hover-car chase, swap characters faces, and stage a gunfight in a field of pineapples.  In fact, in Len Jenkin's Careless Love, all of that happens. If you have an idea, any idea, no matter how crazy it may seem, write it. Somebody will find a way to do it.

Have fun: Writing a play is hard and it takes a lot of work. But seeing something you wrote live on the stage is unbelievably rewarding


Support for YPF provided by:

  • Bodenwein Public Benevolent Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
  • Charter Oak Federal Credit Union - Community Giving Grants Program
  • Connecticut Automotive Retailers' Association
  • Waterford Education Foundation