Kennedy Center Playwriting Contest

Ends on 2/19/2016

Part of the 2016-2017 John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration

Part of IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture

In collaboration with Fishamble: The New Play Company and the Irish Arts Center

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” 

– From John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural address, January 20, 1961

As President Kennedy’s 100th birthday approaches on May 29, 2017, the Kennedy Center encourages everyone living in the United States to write an original play of 500 words or less examining his legacy as it lives on in the country today and responding to the call, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”   

We want stories from across the United States, from people from all walks of life and all backgrounds, from writers young and old, from those who have written many times, to those who have never written a play before.

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States and America’s first Irish-Catholic president, served in office from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963, a total of just over 1000 days. His presidency, while shortened due to his untimely death, is notable due to the significant social and political events that occurred including the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Police Week, the establishment of the Peace Corps, the Space Race, the building of the Berlin Wall, the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and increased U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Kennedy’s legacy, ultimately, is that he coached our character as citizens of this great country. His presidency remains tied to, and identified with themes of exploration, innovation, creativity, courage, freedom, justice, and service.

Submission categories – one play will be selected for performance from each category:

·         Middle school (grade 6-8 or equivalents) or ages 11-13

·         High school (grade 9-12 or equivalents) or ages 14-17

·         Adults ages 18-26

·         Adults ages 27-59

·         Adults ages 60 and over

·         Kennedy Center Family (staff, volunteers, and their immediate family members)

Submission Criteria:

·         All submissions must be 500 words or less, in English, and performable by a cast of no more than 3 actors. Stage directions are included in the final 500-word count. Character names are NOT included in the word count.

·         Playwrights are encouraged to write multi-character dialogue, not a monologue, although monologues will be accepted.

·         All submissions should be complete plays which can stand on their own; structurally, each play should have a beginning, middle and end and not be an excerpt from a longer work. Excerpts from a longer work will not be accepted.

·         Playwrights must live in the United States.

·         Playwrights should submit a headshot that may be used publicly, including via social media.

·         By submitting a play, playwrights (and/or their parents and/or guardians) agree that the Kennedy Center, Fishamble, the Irish Arts Center, and any sponsors or other supporters of the Tiny Plays project may use the playwright’s name, image and all or a portion of the submitted play to promote the Challenge, regardless of whether the play submitted is selected for performance.

Important: Please read the complete Official Submission Guidelines and Rules before submitting an entry in the Tiny Plays for Ireland and America Playwriting Challenge (the “Challenge”). By submitting an entry, you agree to be bound by the Official Submission Guidelines and Rules and represent that you have read and understood all requirements set forth [HERE].

How do I submit a Tiny Play and what are the deadlines?

All submissions must be received by the Kennedy Center by February 19, 2016. Plays may be submitted online through the application below (note, the first step of the submission process requires creation of a free Submittable account) or by mailing the paper application and script to:

Kennedy Center Education Division

ATTN: Tiny Plays

P.O. Box 101510

Washington, DC 20566

In early March 2016 the selected playwrights will be contacted by the Kennedy Center to confirm their participation and to provide other information, such as photographs, a short biography, and possible interview footage. Selected playwrights will also receive information about any required edits and other ways that the plays might be strengthened for performance.

On or about March 18, 2016, the Kennedy Center will announce the selected plays.

All rewrites and other information must be submitted to the Kennedy Center by April 1, 2016

On May 24 and 25, 2016 there will be a staged reading of all selected plays during the Kennedy Center’s IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture festival. The reading will be performed as part of Fishamble: The New Play Company’s performance, Tiny Plays for Ireland and America.

On May 26, 2016 there will be a staged reading of the plays at the Irish Arts Center in New York as part of Fishamble: The New Play Company’s performance, Tiny Plays for Ireland and America.

Selected playwrights will receive:

o A bound copy of all plays selected for performance

o An honorarium  of Five Hundred US Dollars ($500)

o Invitation to attend both performances of Tiny Plays for Ireland and America and to participate in a post-show Q & A at the Kennedy Center (one pair of tickets per playwright)

 o Playwrights living outside the Washington, DC metro area shall additionally receive travel to and hotel accommodations (one double-occupancy room) in Washington, DC, for the playwright and one guest to attend the performances of Tiny Plays for Ireland and America at the Kennedy Center. For playwrights under 18 years of age, the guest must be a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult.

o An invitation to attend the performance of Tiny Plays for Ireland and America at the Irish Arts Center in New York, NY (one pair of tickets per playwright).

o Playwrights living outside the New York, NY metro area shall additionally receive travel to New York, NY and hotel accommodations (one double-occupancy room) in New York, NY, for the playwright and one guest to attend the performances of Tiny Plays for Ireland and America at the Irish Arts Center. For playwrights under 18 years of age, the guest must be a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult.

All travel shall be booked by the Kennedy Center at lowest available coach rates. The Kennedy Center reserves the right to book non-local travel as round trip or multi-destination (i.e., Home-DC-NYC-Home) at its sole discretion. The total value of this award package is approximately $650 plus the cost of any applicable travel and accommodations. All selected playwrights will be required to submit a W-9 and an acknowledgement that the value of the award shall be considered taxable income.  

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