young playwrights festival

Employing the signature “O’Neill process,” the festival provides professional-level support to develop original one-act plays written by middle and high school students.

Application Dates

Closed for 2022

Festival Dates

May 13 - 15, 2022

Young Playwrights will spend a weekend at the O'Neill with a dedicated creative team - director, dramaturg, and actors - comprised of National Theater Institute alumni helping them stage their plays. The development process draws on principles and techniques used during the O'Neill's renowned National Playwrights Conference. With these methods, the young playwrights hone their work, furthering it from the initial isolation of writing to the collaborative process involved in making their script into a living, breathing play. Students receive a rigorous exploration of their work guided by professional artists as well as a script-in-hand public reading of their new play.

The 2022 Young Playwrights Festival will take place May 13 - May 15, 2022.

The 2022 Young Playwrights Festival will likely look different due to the continuing presence of COVID-19. However, the core tenets of the YPF process remain and feature a writer-driven development with collaboration and rehearsal time with creative teams and actors. Writers selected through the submission process will experience these processes through in-person or digital development.

Thank you to the Eversource Foundation for their support of the 2021 Young Playwright's Festival.


Sophia Chapadjiev is the Artistic Director of the Young Playwrights Festival and the O’Neill’s Director of Education. With nearly two decades of experience as an arts educator, Sophia has worked with a number of leading theater organizations in teaching students and teachers alike. Sophia is also a playwright and librettist whose work has been performed in New York, London, Toronto and Sydney. Her play, Over the Moon won Best Play, plus Audience Favorite at the American Globe Theater and In This House was selected as part of London’s inaugural Dark Horse Festival. Selected musical works of hers include: the one-act opera Aloha Flight 243 (music: A. Leyton-Brown) at HERE Arts Center, NY; Tobias Bentley’s World Cello Tour: of the Lesser-Known Nether Regions (music: N. Barstow) at The St. James (nka Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Other Palace), London; and the bijou opera, The Bone Keepers (music: C. O’Neil), a co-production of NYU and American Opera Projects which was highlighted in Broadway World’s opera review and described as “a kind of creep show meets Laverne and Shirley." Sophia is also the author of Teaching Playwriting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fostering Creativity in Your Classroom. BFA, Emerson; MFA, NYU's Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

Applications have been closed. Below is information about our 2022 application process.

NOTE: The O’Neill is only accepting digital submissions for consideration.



  • are between the ages of 12-18

  • have written an original 10-15 page play

  • live in the United States

  • are interested in seeing a play of yours workshopped at the world-renowned Eugene O’Neill Theater Center


  • You may only submit one play for consideration.

  • All plays must be submitted as PDFs or Word documents. We do not accept Google Docs.

  • Ensure you review the application guidelines at the top of the form.



  • Applications must be received by 11:59pm PST, February 1.

  • Application materials will not be returned or archived.

  • Plays will be selected on a competitive basis.

  • The O'Neill does not provide housing or travel for festival attendees.



Questions? Please contact Sophia at sophia@theoneill.org

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.

meet our 2022 playwrights

Funding for the Young Playwrights Festival provided by: The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut; CT Automotive Retailer's Association; Bodenwein Public Benevolent Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; the Waterford Education Foundation; and O'Neill Annual Fund donors