Submission Guidelines and Application
NJYPP Main Page Contest Overview Guidelines and Play Submission Winning Plays NJ Young Playrights Blog

This page will guide you through the process of submitting your play to the New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest. There are specific guidelines for submission. Plays not adhering to those guidelines will be rejected, so please read carefully.

Short cuts for this page:

Preliminary Information Deadlines Submission Guidelines Readers’ Criteria The Application


Submitting a play is a two-part process.

The first part involves filling out the application that follows at the bottom of this page. This application allows us to process the script correctly and provides us contact information for post-contest follow-up. If you are submitting a play by multiple authors, it is important that you only submit the play once, and designate a “representative author” who will be the primary contact. We will continue to consider the play a group effort, a single contact will allow communication to be more efficient.
The second part involves the electronic filing of the play via e-mail. Plays must be attached to the e-mail, and we ask they be in a PDF or Microsoft Word (.doc) format. We prefer PDF files, as they maintain the intended formatting.
Classroom teachers interested in submitting students’ work in paper copy should contact the Education office no later than January 3, 2012 for arrangements.
If the application form is closed or not accepting information, it means we are not taking submissions at this time. Submissions are generally taken between July and the final deadline dates in January.

If the application form is not working and it is clearly within our submission window times, please call Jim DeVivo at 973.514.1787 x14 or send him an e-mail at [email protected]

We are also including on this page the criteria we provide the readers and panel as well as a couple of tips to consider when working on your piece. These are only suggestions.

Please note that the deadline for the 2011 New Jersey Young Playwrights Program has passed. For writers thinking about submitting for the 2012 contest, this year’s deadlines were:

High School (grades 10-12) — January 14, 2012
Junior High School (grades 7-9) and Elementary School (grades 4-6) — January 15, 2012
Please note that these are “postmark” deadlines; therefore, your submission must be received in the [email protected] inbox no later than 11:59 pm on the date listed above.

Who can participate

Students attending a public or nonpublic school program grades four through twelve (ages 9 through 19). Home school students are eligible. Students enrolled in college are not eligible (if student is taking college classes as part of a high-school curriculum, they are eligible).
While we understand that school systems follow different grade groupings, we ask that writers submit their play to the division that corresponds with their grade level. Divisions are as follows: Elementary School (Grades 4-6); Junior High (Grades 7-9); High School (Grades 10-12).
Plays may be co-written by no more than five (5) authors. All authors must meet participation criteria, and all authors must be within the grade range of the division being entered.

Ineligible Submissions
Scripts submitted to previous New Jersey Young Playwrights Contests are not eligible.
Film scripts, screenplays, adaptations of other author’s work are not eligible.
Playwrights Theatre reserves the right to disqualify a script, if in the opinion of the theatre or its representatives, the submission violates copyright, or other applicable, laws.

Script Formatting
Scripts must be no longer than 20 minutes in performance time (roughly 20 typed pages).
Scripts must be typed in Times Roman font, size 12, color black, one-inch margins, with page numbers.
The Writer(s)’ name(s) should appear on the first page of the script under the title ONLY. Name(s) should NOT appear anywhere else in the script (no names in headers or footers).
Plays must be submitted via email an MSWord document (.doc) or a PDF document. Whenever possible, we prefer PDF documents, as these preserve the intended formatting and pagination.
Scripts must be in the style of the professional format. Click on the format example below.

“Definitions… are valuable and essential, but they must never be made into absolutes; if they are, they become obstacles to the development of new forms, experiment and invention.” –Martin Esslin, An Anatomy of Drama

There is no correct way to structure a play and we are not looking for a certain “type” of play. While we enjoy plays with “realistic” structures, we also strongly encourage plays that challenge ideologies and storytelling structure, plays that are non-traditional and inventive. That being said, you may want to consider how some of the following components are developed in your play.

Story– How is the story structured? Does it create its own theatrical “world?” Is there compelling action? Is it well developed? Does it maintain interest? Is the theatrical world consistently maintained?

Characters– Do the characters function consistently within the theatrical world created by the author? Are the characters engaging? Have depth? Do they grow or change?

Dialogue– Is the dialogue consistent with the characters and the theatrical world created by the author? Are the characters distinct from each other by their dialogue? Does the dialogue help them come to life? Will it work well when spoken by actors?

Conflict– Are the conflicts character-driven? How do the conflicts in the play maintain interest? Are they consistent with the theatrical world the author has created?

Dramatic Premise– What is the core intent of the play? Do the characters and the story consistently support the core intent?

Originality– Does the play deviate from traditional story-telling structures? Does it innovate on traditional structures? Is the subject matter new? Is it trying to say something familiar in a new way?

A Note on the Audience
Plays selected to be performed at the Festivals will be read in front of an audience comprised mostly of students, teachers, and parents. While we do encourage writers to explore their creativity, we are all aware that not all plays are for all audiences. Playwrights Theatre reserves the right to not present a winning play, if, in its judgement, the play would be inappropriate to the audience attending the reading. We also reserve the right to refer a play to a school administrator, parent or other responsible adult in the event that Playwrights Theatre feels a particular play is in need of such attention.

Remember, this is a two part process. You will be filling out the appplication form below, and then sending an e-mail with your play attached or uploading your files here.

The Application

In the application, we will be asking for contact information on yourself, but we will also be asking for additional information, some of which you might not have at your fingertips, so it might be a good idea to assemble the following ahead of time:

Full names of co-authors of the play, if any.
Your School Address, including Zip Code/School Phone Number/Principal
Your Play File and E-mail Subject Line

Keep in mind that we receive hundreds of play submissions each year from across New Jersey, so that a play with a file name like “myplay.doc” could easily get lost. This is what we would prefer:

If you are Kim Smith and your play is called “My Wonderful Life”, and you are submitting in the Elementary School Division, we would like the file to be sent like this:
Smith Kim MyWonderfulLife.pdf or Smith Kim MyWonderfulLife.doc
In your e-mail, in the Subject Line, please put the following:
Smith, Kim–My Wonderful Life– Elementary Division
Remember, we prefer files sent in a PDF format, but will also accept files in a .doc format. In a pinch, we can also accept Rich Text Files (.rtf)

Once you fill out the following application form, you will return to this page. When you do, click on [email protected] and begin the process of e-mailing your play.

Remember to proofread and edit your play before sending.

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