Bela Kiralyfalvi National Student Playwriting Competition


The Wichita State University National Playwriting Contest was created in 1974 by Bela Kiralyfalvi, Ph.D., Theatre Professor and Director of the School of Performing Arts until his retirement in 2003. Born in Balkany, Hungary in 1937, he emigrated to the United States in 1956 during the time of the Hungarian revolution.

Kiralyfalvi spent about three years working in New York until a Hungarian friend encouraged him to visit Phillips University in Enid, Okla., where he was working on a degree. Kiralyfalvi began studying philosophy and drama with the intention of becoming a college professor.

At the small liberal arts college, Kiralyfalvi learned about every trade from lighting and set design to directing and makeup, which he says made him a much better teacher and director. After earning his doctorate he developed specialties in theater history and dramatic literature.

At WSU Kiralyfalvi taught acting, playscript analysis, playwriting and developed an improvisation course. Although he served as Director for many years, he claimed his most satisfying highlight was simply being as a teacher. "Teaching has always been exciting and interesting. I've enjoyed learning and understanding things better through the process. I joke with students when they are getting ready to graduate after four or five years. They'll say, 'Oh I am going to be so glad to get out of here.' I tell them, 'You know, I've spent 45 years in college, and I still haven't left.' And it's true you never cease to be a student. If you cease to be a student, you will not be a good teacher."


The selected playwright’s script will be workshopped, culminating in either a staged reading or a fully realized production by the WSU School of Performing Arts Program. Active participation by the playwright is required. If selected for production the show may be entered as an associate or participating entry in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) and the script will be submitted to KCACTF for consideration in playwriting award categories. The “prize” for the winner is travel and lodging so that the playwright may attend the production.

Selection Process

The selection of the winning play will be conducted by a panel of three or more approved adjudicators from the school faculty, students, or alumni. Adjudicators will be looking for scripts that are suitable for an 88-seat black box theatre. This is defined as scripts with settings that are capable of being produced with a limited budget, by student designers, and specifically written to be performed onstage, i.e. scripts with workable costume/scenic changes and with limited production elements. (Scripts that are written in a cinematic style--overly complex costume and setting changes--will be rejected).

Development Process

The selected script will go through a development process with the assigned director, which will involve re-writing and polishing the script. Staged readings will also be used to assist with this process.


1) The contest will be open to all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at any college or university in the United States. Please indicate school affiliation.

2) All submissions must be original, unpublished and unproduced.

3) Both full-length and one-act plays may be submitted.

(a) Full length plays in one or more acts should be a minimum of 90 minutes playing time.
(b) Two short plays on related themes by the same author will be judged as one entry. The total playing time should be a minimum of 90 minutes.
(c) One-act plays should be a minimum of 30 minutes playing time to a maximum
of 60 minutes playing time.
(d) Musicals should be a minimum of 90 minutes playing time and must include a CD of the accompanying music.

4) Scripts should contain no more than 4 - 6 characters and the setting must be suitable for an 88-seat black box theatre.

5) Eligible playwrights may submit up to two entries per contest year.

6) One typewritten, bound copy should be submitted. Scripts must be typed and arranged in professional play script format.
* Two title pages must be included: one bound and the other unbound.

  • The unbound title page should display the author’s name, address, telephone number and email address if applicable.
  • The bound title page should only display the name of the script; do not include any personal identifying information on the bound title page.

Scripts may be submitted electronically to Jeannine Russell at the email link below.

Submit in .PDF format. Submit a .PDF “blind copy” of the script and a .PDF title page with your contact information.

7) The deadline for submission is December 14th (postmarked). The winner will be notified on February 14th. 

8) No entry may be withdrawn after January 15th.


Send manuscripts to:

Jeannine Russell, Coordinator
School of Performing Arts
Wichita State University
1845 Fairmount, Box 153
Wichita, KS, 67260

Submit script by email