Winning scripts in Young Playwrights Contest take center stage

For 24 years, the California Young Playwrights Contest has bridged the gap between Hollywood success stories and young writers in San Diego who dared to dream. The Playwrights Project, in association with Cygnet Theatre, will present its newest winning scripts in professional productions at the Old Town Theatre Jan. 17 through Jan. 25.

The contest is divided into two groups. Winning writers ages 15 to 19 earn full stage productions of their scripts. Winners age 14 and younger receive readings of their work. Instructors from the Playwrights Project visited schools to conduct writing workshops to help students refine their entries.

Several of this year’s winners are from the San Diego area. Coronado’s Emily Reit, 17, who attends The Bishop’s Academy in La Jolla, won for her play “Prom Night,” a comedy about two over-protective parents who go to drastic measures to thwart their daughter’s prom plans. Reit recently earned a youngARTS award from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) for her play.

Reit said she likes comedies and asked her parents to contribute to her idea.

“I sat them down and told them to offer as many ridiculous situations as they could,” Reit said. “They had a lot of funny ideas. Of course my original story has gone through a lot of changes.”

Excited by her national award, Reit looks forward to a week in Florida where she will attend professionally taught workshops with other NFAA award winners. Reit, who has also acted in school, said the Playwrights Project opened new doors for her.

“For the first time I got to see firsthand what it’s like to be on the other side of a production as a writer rather than the actor,” she said.

La Jolla’s 14-year-old Leah Salovey won her prize for “Butterflies,” a metaphor for how a person is like a beautiful butterfly and then it flies away.

“A few years ago my friend and I wanted to be famous, so we decided to write a screenplay and enter it into the Cannes Film Festival,” Salovey said.

Although encouraged by her father, Todd Salovey, associate artist director at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Leah Salovey knows playwriting is not an easy task.

“I really enjoyed this contest because I learned a lot about myself in the process,” she said. “I also discovered how hard it is, but it’s very exciting to see someone acting out what I wrote.”

During a playwriting exercise in his fifth grade English class at Solana Pacific Elementary School, Benjamin Rose wrote his play about a vegetarian tiger longing for company. He said he’s not a vegetarian but wanted to incorporate a solid message in his comedy to not be cruel to animals.

Rose surprised himself during the writing experience.

“I thought it was neat to see people actually act out my words and I learned a lot about editing through the script changing process,” Rose said.

Rose’s mother, Linda, found the project very worthwhile.

“It was fascinating to hear about the things the kids learned,” she said. “I also like that kids received a written critique of their work.”

Play by Young Writers

  • Jan. 17 - Jan. 25
  • Old Town Theatre
  • 4040 Twiggs Street, San Diego
  • For tickets, information or performance schedule call (619) 239-8222 or visit