Dogwood to award $2,000 to aspiring playwrights

Published 5:32 pm Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fledging playwrights throughout Michiana will have a rare opportunity to gain some attention for their work, and the chance to make some money as well.

Planners for the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival are currently seeking submissions for their first annual Emerging Playwright Award, which will award three aspiring writers with $2,000 worth of cash prizes for their scripts. Contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 30, and must live or study in Michigan or Indiana.

“The award is geared toward younger writers who are just coming out of college,” said Bobbie Jo Hartline, the secretary for the festival.

Organizers decided to offer the award for the first time for the festival next spring. The idea was initially suggested by actors with the local Beckwith Theater, who put on a live show every year as part of the festival.

“The award is kind of like a competition, a live show and an educational event, all rolled into one package,” Hartline said.

Informational packets about the awards have been distributed to around 120 different schools and universities throughout the region to help spread the word. While the contest is mainly targeted toward college students or recent grads, anyone who falls within the age qualification is welcome to submit a script for consideration, Hartline said.

So far, the organization hasn’t received any submissions since announcing the contest. However, they are confident they will receive a decent amount of scripts before the Jan. 15 deadline for submissions.

“We notice that, when it comes to the creative type, things tend to happen close to deadline,” Hartline said.

The top three submissions will be read on stage at Beckwith, by actors from theaters all over the region. The readings will take place on April 11 through 13, with an overall winner being announced at the theater on May 12.

The three winners will receive $250 for their submissions, with the top submission receiving an additional $1,250 prize.

“Two thousand dollars usually speaks pretty loud, but the fun thing here is the opportunity to write something down and see your work come to life, read by professional actors in front a live audience,” Hartline said. “It’s hard to get that kind of exposure, especially when you’re just starting out.”