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Veterans' 10-Minute Playwriting Contest

Veterans' 10-Minute Playwriting Contest

A staged reading of selected plays takes place in Fall 2019.

Designated a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs, a Top College and University by Military Advanced Education, and a Best for Vets College by Military Times, Salem State values our military connected students and their families and the sacrifices they have made for our country. Salem State is committed to supporting veterans’ voices on and off campus. The arts create unique and powerful opportunities for individuals and groups to share experiences and constructive dialogue. As such, Salem State is proud to announce its first Veterans Playwriting Contest which will culminate in staged readings of selected plays in Fall 2019.

All playwrights, regardless of military affiliation, are invited to enter Salem State University’s inaugural 10-Minute Playwriting Contest. However, preference will be given to those with a direct military connection. This includes: active-duty military, reservists, National Guard, veterans, and direct family of any of these. The theme of the play should directly touch on military service and/or how military service affects a community.

Judges will select eight to twelve finalists from entries received by the April 1, 2019 deadline. A staged reading by experienced actors of the selected finalists’ plays will take place in Fall 2019 2019 at Salem State’s Callan Studio Theatre.

Important Dates

April 1, 2019: Entry deadline

May 1, 2019: Notification of finalists. Eight to 12 playwrights will be selected as finalists for staged readings of their plays to be produced by Salem State University.

Fall 2019: Staged readings with post-performance discussions (dates TBD) in the Callan Studio Theatre, Salem State University


Plays showing distinction in the following categories will be recognized and honored among overall finalists: Style/Tone, Dialogue, and Theme.

Plays selected for the staged reading will be considered for publication in Salem State's national literary magazine Soundings East in spring 2020.

Contest Rules

  • Only submissions through Submittable will be considered. 
  • One submission per playwright.
  • All plays are judged blind. Do not include any personal, identifying information anywhere on your submission.
  • Only original plays, not-yet produced or published, are eligible.
  • Musicals and adaptations are not eligible.
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed. If your play is accepted elsewhere, please let us know immediately. If your play is chosen to be performed in March 2019, you agree to withdraw your play from all other places where it is under consideration.
  • By submitting, you agree to allow Salem State University to produce the first staged reading of your play.
  • Scripts meeting the rules and submitted by the deadline will be reviewed by judges.
  • Judging will be done by SSU theatre faculty and members of the SSU veterans’ community.

Judging Criteria

  • Plot seems fresh, intriguing and original
  • Something happens; sufficient conflict and tension throughout the play
  • Plot is active, vital and dramatic on stage
  • Story moves along; pace is engaging
  • Strong, interesting writing style
  • Clear viewpoint that’s well integrated into the play
  • Interesting and compelling characters
  • Characters seem credible and real
  • Main character evolves or develops through the course of the play
  • Dialogue suits the characters
  • Dialogue sounds natural and credible for the plot and location
  • Each character has own unique voice
  • Dialogue seems fresh and compelling (not dull, boring, or generic)
  • The play can be staged in a black box theatre with limited set, sound, and design.
Overall Effect
  • Play is transformative and memorable

Submitting Your Work

The script must be in standard playwriting format with 12-point Courier font. Use double spacing when changing from one character to another. Use single spacing everywhere else. If you are unfamiliar with standard playwriting format, please check out this example.



Karen A Gahagan
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