Lauran Ostberg (left) and Kathey Stewart (right) help Yorkshire Playhouse Playwriting Contest winner Don Keelan-White bring his creation – “The Funeral” – to life.

YORK—Nebraska playwrights are getting a unique opportunity to share their work, thanks to the Yorkshire Playhouse’s Playwriting Contest (YPPC).

The inaugural 2019 one-act contest went well, said Yorkshire Playhouse’s C. Danielle Deal. “We were really happy with the crowds that we got for the first year,” she said. “All around it was an amazing experience for those who were able to be a part of it.”

The 2019 YPPC winners were locals Don Keelan-White and Mitchell Roush, who also directed their winning (“The Funeral”) and runner-up (“Lavender”) productions, respectively.

“You know, it is one thing to cast a show, but to cast it for a script that I have written, and then turn around and direct it as well, that is all quite a different experience altogether,” Keelan-White said.

Roush said bringing a play to life is an emotional experience – particularly from his and Keelan-White’s views.

“It’s no small thing to produce original work, and trust the community would support and enjoy [it],” he said. “’Painting Lavender’ turned out to be a wonderful exercise in unpacking complex emotion, leaning into a creative assignment, and attempting to bring it to the stage.”

That level of emotion was not lost on Keelan-White.

“It is always an honor to have someone agree to do a script that I have written,” he said, adding that his YPPC winner was a modified composition he had written prior to YPPC.

“The original script, a two-act rendition, had been previously submitted to three or four other playwriting contests around the country or theaters looking for new unpublished scripts,” he explained. “The script I submitted to YPPC was a modified, edited one-act version.”

With YPPC’s so many distinctions in mind, Deal said that YPPC presents area theatre enthusiasts with a truly special experience.

“It’s kind of a big deal to put on a world premiere performance -- particularly of shows of this quality -- and it was amazing that it happened right here in York, Nebraska,” Deal said.

Yorkshire Playhouse Playwriting Contest 2020 is shaping up to be another successful event. Entries are due August 15, 2019. Once the closing date passes, a blind judging phase will begin. The winner and runner-up will be selected in October.

“We’ve already doubled the number of entries this year with a couple months before it closes,” Deal said. “We hope to be able to premier one or more of the 2020 winners next year.”

Last year’s judges consisted of a Yorkshire Playhouse Board member, an active Playhouse volunteer, and one faculty member from York College -- all with backgrounds in literature, writing or theatre. “Different judges from our community will be involved every year,” Deal explained.

With the level of success YPPC had in 2019, Deal said she and her fellow Yorkshire Playhouse supporters have high hopes for future YPPCs.

“It was an amazing experience, and we’re so excited to have been able to put it on for our community,” Deal said. “Not that many Playhouses in this area are able to provide a place for original theatrical art, and we’re so excited to be able to do this and hope to do it for years to come.”


Rules and other information regarding the Yorkshire Playhouse Playwriting Contest can be found at: www.yorkshireplayhouse.com/yppc

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