Providing advocacy & resources for the field of theatre for young audiences.

Welcome to Young Playwrights for Change.

Now in its fourth year (2016-17), Young Playwrights for Change is a collaborative national middle school playwriting competition run by Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYA/USA) and the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE). The mission of Young Playwrights for Change is to produce meaningful conversations that will ripple across our nation to provoke change. Our goal is to spark conversation and discussion throughout classrooms, schools, and communities.


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Feature: Children’s Theatre of Charlotte Year 3 Winner

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New York City Children’s Theatre Year 2 Playwrights

Order your copy of the Year 2 Anthology Today!

Cover Design by MAKEWORKS; Cover Illustration by Borja Cabada

The seventeen middle school playwrights in this collection participated in workshops on the local and regional level and proved that the deceptively simple question we asked is actually quite complicated. As Adam Burke writes in the Introduction, “It was fascinating to see the question addressed from a variety of social, cultural, and biological perspectives in these plays. As I read the many wonderful plays by these brave new playwrights it became clear that there isn’t one simple answer to this question.” Each play was submitted to the national contest. The winner and runners-up—Life Goes On by Alexia Teagon McCarty, Who Is My Family? by Daniel Coppinger, and Speaking of Sexuality by Alexandria Smith open the collection, making way for all or our talented playwrights.


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All proceeds go directly back into the Young Playwrights for Change program. Thank you for your support. Enjoy!

The Year 1 Anthology is available at the TYA Bookstore.

Year 4 (2016-17): Empathy in Action: Combating Bullying

First Place

The Principle by Fletcher Fraher

Hosted by Adventure Stage Chicago



Slip-Proof Savvy? by Adelaide Kate Fisher

Hosted by Orlando Repertory Theatre


Second Runner-Up

When the Planets Align by Quinn Cole

Hosted by Children’s Theatre of Charlotte


Congratulations, and a HUGE thank you to all of our playwrights and contest hosts! Fletcher’s play will be read as part of One Theatre World 2017 in San Fransisco in May. Other readings by TYA/USA and AATE to be determined. A full press release is forthcoming.


Thank you to this year’s judges:

First Round

Cody Braudt (Stages Theatre Company)

Molly Mattaini (University of Wisconsin – Madison MA Theatre for Youth)

Mollie Murk (Kentucky Shakespeare)

Don Fleming (Seattle Children’s Theatre)

Megan Collins (SCT)

Emily Veno (Imagination Stage)

Karli Jenkins (Children’s Theatre Company)

Kyle Geissler (Hunter College Theatre Education MA)


Final Round

Courtney Sale (Seattle Children’s Theatre)

Sandy Boren-Barrett (Stages Theatre Company)

Buffy Sedlachek (Playwright, TYA)

M.J. Sasse (Young Playwrights for Change Year 3 Winner)


Host Sign Up Deadline: October 21

National Contest Submission Deadline: February 1 (Not the 17th as previously posted)

National Winner Announcement: March 17

One Theatre World Reading: May 4


Year 3 (2015-16): Open Theme

This year’s theme is Open Theme – What Do You Want To Change About the World? Students may focus on any issue they like such as income inequity or peer pressure; or you may choose to focus your contest on a single issue (bullying, environment, etc.) Young Playwrights for Change offers students a new way to explore and express how they feel about important issues. It gives them a voice and lets them speak to their peers and the adults in their lives in a new way.

TYA/USA and AATE member sponsored local contests feed into the National Contest. One winning play will be read at OTW: Sessions happening May 6, 2016, hosted The Kennedy Center preceding their New Visions/New Voices Festival. Other TYA gathering readings TBD.

The sign-up deadline participate as a host has passed. Thank you to our 30+ organizations and individuals for joining us!

First Place


by M.J. Sasse

Sponsored by Oregon Children’s Theatre, Portland, Oregon


Second Place

The Tears of Tomorrow

by Rachel Radloff

Sponsored by Omaha Theater Company at the Rose, Omaha, Nebraska


Third Place

A Stand for Equality…and Friendship

by Catie Mendivil

Sponsored by ZACH Theatre, Austin, Texas


Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

The Safest Place by Caroline Giordano, People’s Light, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Same Difference, by Aru Hopper, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina


Thank you to ALL our awesome playwrights for telling your stories. And a huge thank you to all our regional sponsor organizations.

National Judges

Elissa Adams, Children’s Theatre Company

Eric Coble, Playwright

Matt Gutschick, Omaha Children’s Theatre at the Rose

Alexia McCarty, Young Playwrights for Change 2015 Winner

Jeff Revels, Orlando Rep

Cheryl West, Playwright

Our Year 3 First Round Judges:

Susie Tanner - TheatreWorkers Project

Katy Kepler -The Rose Theater

Tom Quinn - Walnut Street Theatre

Wendy Bable -  People’s Light

Emma Halpern – New York Children’s Theatre

Ashley Laverty – Arizona State University

Don Fleming – Seattle Children’s Theatre

Megan Collins – Seattle Children’s Theatre

Jason Gerhard – University of Central Florida

Susan Gurman – The Susan Gurman Agency

Todd Hulet – Todd Hulet Productions

Mark Branner – University of Hawaii

2015-16 Host Sites

This map shows our 21 host sites who submitted to the national contest. Thank you!

The following amazing organizations all signed up to host. We appreciate all your efforts!
Adventure Stage Chicago at the Northwestern University Settlement House, Chicago, IL
Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA
Boston Children’s Theatre, Boston, MA
Brave Little Company with Young Audiences, Inc., Houston, TX
Chance Theater, Huntington Beach, CA
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Children’s Theater of Madison, Madison, WI
Childsplay & Rising Youth Theatre, Tempe, AZ
Columbia Children’s Theatre, Columbia, SC
Dana Middle School, Hawthorne, CA
DreamWrights, York, PA
First Stage, Milwaukee, WI
Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT
Helen Hayes Youth Theatre, New City, NY
Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Honolulu, HI
Jewish Community High School, San Francisco, CA
Kennedy Middle School (Natick Public Schools), Natick, MA
Lexington Children’s Theatre, Lexington, KY
Omaha Theater Company, Omaha, NE
Oregon Children’s Theatre, Portland, OR
Orlando Repertory Theatre, Orlando, FL
New York City Children’s Theater, New York, NY
The Palace Theater, Hubbardsville, NY
Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, Palo Alto, CA
People’s Light, Malvern, PA
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Sacred Heart Schools Middle School, Atherton, CA
Sequoyah School & TheatreWorkers Project, Pasadena, CA
South Hills Middle School, Riverton, UT
Stephen A. Halsey JHS 157, Rego Park, NY
UVU Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth, Sandy, UT
Yocum Institute for Arts Education, Reading, PA
ZACH Theatre, Austin, TX

Our Past Winners


The Playwrights of OTW: Year 2 national winner Alexia McCarty with playwright attendees at One Theatre World 2015 in Chicago. Photo: Johnny Knight Photo

YEAR 1 (2013-14): Anti-bullying

Michael Ford, sponsored by Childsplay and Rising Youth Theatre, Tempe/Phoenix, Arizona, for his play Nerdy Nate & the Anti-bullying Quest.

YEAR 2 (2014-15): What is Family?

Alexia McCarty, sponsored by Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth, Orem, Utah, for her play Life Goes On.


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Your YPC Core Committee

Brian Guehring
YPC Chair

Brian is a current TYA/USA Board Member and is the Playwright in Residence and Education Director of the Omaha Theater Company for Young People

Don Fleming
YPC Committee

Don is the Education Director at Seattle Children’s Theatre.

Jeremy Kisling
YPC Committee

Jeremy is the Associate Artistic Director in Charge of Education Director at Lexington Children’s Theatre.

Julia Magnasco
YPC Committee

Julia is a current TYA/USA Board Member and the Education Director at First Stage, Milwaukee.