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Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Judith Royer Excellence in Playwriting Award


Deadline: February 1, 2023

The Judith Royer Excellence in Playwriting Award honors a new play marked by sophisticated and nuanced storytelling, with the potential to make a major artistic impact on contemporary theatre. This year’s winner will be invited to the annual meeting of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education in Austin, Texas, August 3-6, 2023 for a reading and/or showcase of the award-winning play. Plays must be entered by February 1, 2023.

In 2017, the playwriting award was newly named the Judith Royer Award for Excellence in Playwriting, in honor of the many years of service she has given to ATHE, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and especially to the development of new plays throughout the nation. Plays must have been written by playwrights engaged with an institution of higher education (be it student, faculty, artist in residence, guest artist, etc.).

This award is co-sponsored by KCACTF. Only full-length plays will be considered. A playwright may only enter one play in any given year. The plays can be produced or unproduced but must be unpublished.

The Royer sets no restrictions on subject matter, style, or intended audience. Past winning plays have spanned a diversity of topics and represented varied perspectives on race, culture, language, disability, gender, nationality, and political worldview. We aim to continue to expand our understanding of what this can look like, and hope playwrights will consider their submission to the Royer with this in mind, particularly in a year when ATHE has issued a Call to Action

The winning playwright is expected to attend the ATHE Conference and to participate in the preparation of a concert reading of the play

We strongly encourage playwrights to read this Call to Action before submitting, and to consider how their work addresses the questions raised: "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?"

Authors and nominators need not be ATHE members. Self-nominations are welcome. The winning playwright is expected to attend the ATHE Conference and to participate in the preparation of a concert reading of the play.

The winner will receive up to $500 in travel reimbursement for attending the awards ceremony and conference play reading, complimentary conference registration, and two complimentary nights in the conference hotel. The playwright will also be recognized at the National Festival at the Kennedy Center, for which they will receive membership in the Dramatists Guild, a cash award of $500, travel, hotel and a meal allowance.

View a list of past awardees here

Opportunity Guidelines
  • Please read the submission policy below carefully. Incorrect or incomplete submissions cannot be considered.A blind copy of your script, submitted as a PDF. To ensure the blind reading process, your name must not appear anywhere in the script document—not on the cover page, not in the headers or footers. The script document should also contain a brief synopsis of the play, a rough casting breakdown [Example 3M, 4W], and a brief description of the characters.
  • Pertinent production notes (optional).
  • Musicals will not be considered (due to the difficulty of the reading).
  • Your play must not include material that you do not have permission to use.
  • Your play must not be previously published.
  • Previous production of your script is allowed.
  • Do not submit a play that is incomplete or a rough draft.
  • Plays may be submitted to other award programs simultaneously. 
  • Deadline: February 1, 2023


For questions, contact subcommittee chair Hank Willenbrink.

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