Past Playwriting Contest Winners (1975-current)

2023: Mama Bushwick is Dead by Elizabeth Shannon, Marymount Manhattan College

2022: Happy Wright by Straton Rushing, Arizona State University

2021: Go Like Saints by Skye Robinson Hillis, Ohio University (presented in 2022)

2020: The Monty Hall Problem by Ben Connor, Brown University

2019: Love Me or Leave Me by Emily Kirkman, Wichita State University

2018: The Search by Elizabeth Crino, University of Maryland

2017: States of Happiness by Josh Whedon, University of Central Florida

2016: House Beautiful by Liz Maestri, Catholic University of America; Washington, DC

2015: Core of Temptation by Danielle Hartman, Virginia Commonwealth University.

2014: La Llorona by Amanda Zeitler, Catholic University of America; Washington, DC

2013: Hunting a Doe by Kyle Dilley, Wichita State University.

2012: Fleeing Blue by Milta Ortiz, Northwestern University

2011: Something Slavic by Josh Brown,

2010: Last Autumn

2009: The Burning Room

2008: Gedenken by William Alewyn

2007: A Giant Arc in the Skyspace of Directions (or The Story of Miracles) by Michael Vukadinovich

2006: Freeze Frame by Deborah Yarchun

2005: The House Where Nobody Lives by Paul North, Arizona State University-Tempe


2003: Still Love, with Paint by Cristina Pippa, University of Iowa.

2002: Edible Shoes by Jonathan Yukich, Indiana University (2003 winner of the Paula Vogel Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival)

2000: Wives by M. Lynda Robinson, Boston University.
1999: Impostors by Justin Warner, Catholic University.
1998: But Dust and Ash by Elizabeth Renee Finch, Carnegie-Mellon University.
1997: The Great Frozen Man by Jeannine Saunders, Wichita State University.
1996: Clean Break by Cynthia Stofiel, University of Missouri, Kansas City.
1995: Learning to Love by Molly Hersage, George Washington University.
1994: Miracle by Timothy Dial, University of Tennessee.
1993: Tragedy Becomes Her by Peggy Tharp-Flynn, Wichita State University.
1992: Should Old Acquaintance by Natalie Gaupp, University of Texas, Arlington.
1991: Serenade of the June Babies by Julian Colton, Kansas State University.
1990: Prosperity by Lee Richard Lawing, University of South Carolina.
1989: Winter Lies by Robert Clyman, CUNY
1988: The Mentalist by Robert Hilley, Oklahoma State University.
1987: Water, Water, Quench Fire by Richard Aellen, Hunter College.
1986: Forgotten Verdict by Richard Aellen, Hunter College.
1985: The List by Milov Bavenci, Yale School of Drama.
1985: Everything You Always Wanted by Suzanne Kehde, USC.
1984: ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings by Julie Boxx, Brigham Young University.
1983: A Game of Chess by Arf Becker, University of Michigan.
1982: A Shaft of Sunlight by Vivien Minshull-Ford, Wichita State University.
1981: Departures by Barry Mann, Harvard University.
1980: Penny Dreadfuls by Dale Wilson, University of Nebraska.
1979: Windows by Paulette Laufer, Virginia University.
1978: The Beams are Creaking by Douglas Anderson, University of Nebraska.
1977: Gone by Morning by Harry Zimbler, jr., Penn State University and Martha’s Vineyard by David Reilly, New York State University-Potsdam.
1976: Shadow of a Gentle Mind by Carroll Carlson, University of Iowa and Always by Dean Corrin, Wichita State University.
1975: Games People Play by Francine Ringold, University of Tulsa.


2017: States of Happiness by Josh Whedon

The central character in desperately seeks meaning, but doesn't know where to look. She learns of a service that will allow her to do something extraordinary. But through this, she tumbles into an experiment that may have drastic repercussions. Will this actually help her or will it send her further into hopelessness? (Rating PG-13)

2016: House Beautiful by Liz Maestri

In a decaying Long Island town, a man named Edwin is reaching the end of his life. His daughter Fran and granddaughter Victoria, each support him in the ways they know how, until the arrival of an ominous stranger causes each family member to fight for what they love most.

A love letter to everyone who silently deals with the sanitized pain of dying in American, "House Beautiful" explores family dynamics across generations, leaving the past behind, and celebrating the life that exists in the tiniest of houses and smallest of rooms.

2015: Core of Temptation by Danielle Hartman, Virginia Commonwealth University

In Hartman's retelling of the creation story and Paradise Lost, God and his angel Lucy struggle to maintain their relationship after an accident alters God’s plan for existence. “Core of Temptation” seeks to humanize God and his angels.

The cast of “Core of Temptation” includes music theater majors Daniel Hughes and Naaman Williams and theater performance majors Jessica Curtiss, Christian James and Mariah Clements. It is directed by musical theater major Jennie Hughes and stage managed by theater major Melanie Calvery. Student designers include theater design and technology majors Kenneth Stephens (sets); James Laning (lights); Marlo Griffith (sound); music theater major Angie Thompson (costumes); and vocal performance major Aaron Fink (props).

2014: La Llorona by Amanda Zeitler, Catholic University of America

In Zeitler's riveting drama, public defender Andy Walker finds herself assigned to defend a woman accused of drowning her own children. The press dubs, Marina, the defendant, “La Llorona", after a Hispanic folktale about the 'weeping woman' who, after drowning her children in a fit of despair, wandered riverbanks in search of their souls. The pressure of working such a high profile case soon brings Andy and her husband’s conflicts over parenthood bubbling to the surface.

“La Llorona” is directed by Jeannine Russell, adjunct theater professor at Wichita State, with assistance from students Krista Nelson, assistant director, Scott Salem, stage manager, and Joe Asbridge, technical director. The cast includes performance students Jami Muma, Simone Ruiz and Jacob Groth, with design work by students Nimrah Khan, costumes and makeup; Katie Eitzen, sets; Arthur Reese, lights; Marlo Griffith, sound; Ryan Morrow, assistant sound; and Kyla Mansfield, props.

2013: Hunting a Doe by Kyle Dilley, Wichita State University

"Hunting A Doe" by WSU Theatre major Kyle Dilley, takes the traditional farcical style and turns it on its ear. While this play takes its audience on a madcap, roller coaster ride of laughs, it also takes aim at the question: are our lives authentic or are they only based on different perceptions?

The cast includes Damian Padilla, Sean Gestl and Hannah See. Wichita State Theatre student designers for this production are: Chelsey Erskin (set and technical director), Alyce Murphy (costumes & makeup), Dalton Houck (lighting) and Hayley Worth with WSU SPA Assoc Professor Ed Baker (sound). Theatre student Krista Nelson is the stage manager for the show.

2012: Fleeing Blue by Milta Ortiz, Northwestern University

“Fleeing Blue” is an exploration of the effects of war, politics and paranoia on relationships shared by a group of people who practice arts, academics and cruelty. The piece was selected from a variety of new plays submitted by student playwrights from across the United States. The WSU theater program sponsors the National Playwriting Contest and produces the winning play during the regular production year. Students have the opportunity to work with the play’s author on creating roles for the first time with the original script.

2011: Something Slavic by Josh Brown

2010: Last Autumn by

2009: The Burning Room by

2008: Gedenken by William Alewyn

William Alewyn's "Gedenken" is a short and witty cat-and-mouse game during a fictional meeting between the Jewish Albert Einstein and Nazi leader Adolph Hitler as World War II looms.

2007: A Giant Arc in the Skyspace of Directions (or the Story of Miracles) by Michael Vukadinovich

The second stage production, "A Giant Arc in the Skyspace of Directions" by Michael Vukadinovich is a play about the impossibility of miracles and the loss of wonder in a world of science. We are taken into a time when society has crumbled due to the absence of time. There are only two clocks left and they never keep the same time, so all concept of minutes, days, years, and "age" has completely dissolved. It is a world where birds disappear into thin air, where rain falls backwards and snow falls indoors. It is in this world where we encounter Sarah-- a woman who believes having a child will save her and the world around her; Eamon-- a priest who no longer knows what kind of god he can believe in; Abe-- an inventor who's genius is matched only by his naivete; Rebecca-- a blind woman who sees much more than she appears to; and Jacob-- a warrior who is haunted by dreams of his death.

Based imaginatively on stories from the book of Genesis, and told through the eyes of three children, Michael Vukadinovich's searingly vivid language and Efrain Schunior's poetic direction bring to life a story that will delight, astound, and haunt you for days after you've experienced it.

2006: Freeze Frame by Deborah Yarchun

“FreezeFrame,” the winner of Wichita State University’s 32nd Annual National Playwriting Award, is an experimental piece set in a college campus in Philadelphia. It alludes to the Snow Queen fairy tale, while looking at people’s attempts to connect with one another in the new millennium. Issues of religion, science, loneliness and loss of control are explored through four college students as they struggle to be heard, seen, felt and understood.

Playwright Deborah Yarchun is no stranger to college life: She is a junior at Drexel University in Philadelphia, majoring in playwriting and screenwriting. She has twice won the Young Playwrights Festival National Playwriting Competition in New York and was the second-place recipient of the VSA arts (an international nonprofit created by former Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith) 18th Annual Playwrights Discovery Award for a play she co-authored that dealt with autism. The play had a staged reading at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Guest director Danette Baker is directing the play. Whitney LeBarge plays Aliyah, Marius Ausbie is Paul, Todd Mika is Mark and Camille Schmierer plays Brianna. Megan Richardson is in charge of costumes and makeup, Andy Brooks is handling scenic design, Cody Davis is the lighting designer, Joseph McIntire is handling sound design, Shannon Smith is the properties designer, A.J. Kellison is the technical director, and Deanna Ornelas is the stage manager.

2005: The House Where Nobody Lives by Paul North, Arizona State University

In a house where nobody lives, its inhabitants will have to figure out what they are doing there. That's the basic premise of "The House Where Nobody Lives," this year's winner of the School of Performing Arts Annual National Playwriting Competition. Arizona State University playwright Paul North's intention, however, is that individual theater groups interpret his play in their own way.

The 24-year-old North wants to be in the audience on opening night to see for himself how theater professor and director Judith Babnich's production works with the foundation of his play: a main character who must attempt to maintain stability among four strangers who find themselves together in a mysterious house.

In Babnich's version of North's play, the action centers around five people, including a caretaker angel, who find themselves in purgatory. That is the place where, according to Catholic doctrine, souls must pass if their bodies have committed sins in life and not atoned for them. The graver and more frequent the sin, the longer the period of atonement. "Our lead, Sarah, is an angel," said Babnich. "In the Catholic Church, there are many levels of angels. She is a very mediocre angel who would like to be human. She has been placed in purgatory as her job. Because she's mediocre and doesn't follow the rules, she stays in purgatory to take of the people there."

The all-student cast features Ashley Sorensen in the role of Sarah, the angel. In her care are Taylor Moore as Barnabus, a seaman; Stephen Barker as Marshall, an orphan; Cassiday Proctor as Lois, a librarian; and Matt Ablan as Jim, a crystal methamphetamine addict. Directing and sound design is by Babnich, with lighting by Matthew Johannes, costumes by Shannon Smith, set design by Paul Colella, properties by Evan Schmidt, stage management by Jessica Carr and technical direction by Eric Bledsoe.


2003: Still Love, with Paint by Cristina Pippa, University of Iowa

The winner of WSU's annual National Playwriting Contest is "Still Love, with Paint" by Cristina Pippa, a student at the University of Iowa. The play will be part of WSU's 2003-04 theater season. It also will be entered as a participating production in the American College Theatre Festival next year.

The judges for this year's contest were WSU professors Judith Babnich, Joyce Cavarozzi, Julie Longhofer and Bradford Reissig. The purpose of the contest and production is to nurture the development of undergraduate and graduate student playwrights in the United States. The contest is partially funded by the Luis and Selma Miller Endowment.

2002: Edible Shoes by Jonathan Yukich, Indiana University

"Edible Shoes" by Jonathan Yukich, also won the Paula Vogel Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.