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Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph (VT) is pleased to announce its fourth, Issues Playwriting Contest. 

With the renewed support of the Walter Cerf Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, Chandler will again be using the contest to promote excellent writing for the stage, giving particular focus to plays that address social issues. "Social issue" plays are, for the purposes of this contest, plays that frame and delve into pressing topics important to Vermont communities, topics which either affect Vermonters today or have affected Vermonters in the past. Writers from Vermont, or those with a strong Vermont connection, are invited to submit to Chandler original plays on social issues with a running time of at least 45 minutes.

Submissions may be made electronically or by snail mail, and must either be received electronically by midnight on June 30th, or be mailed with a postmark dated no later than June 30th.

Scripts will be evaluated by judges with theater experience, who will select up to five finalists
based on the quality of the writing (language, characterization, dramatic structure) and the
clarity with which the focal issue is presented, and their selection will be final. Finalists will be
notified by September 30th, and each will receive a $100 cash prize. Each finalist play will be
given a staged-reading production in Chandler’s Upper Gallery in early 2021. 




The purpose of this fourth contest is again to promote excellent writing, by Vermont writers, for the Vermont stage. Its particular focus is “social issue" plays:  plays that frame and delve into pressing topics important to Vermont communities, either those issues relevant today or those that have affected Vermonters in the past.



  • Any play entered into the contest must be original, and must not have been professionally produced before the end date of the contest (June 30, 2020). Plays that have received a workshop performance or a staged reading are eligible; plays that have been performed by professional actors for a paying audience are not.

  • Each play entered must deal with a social issue:  for example, the rights of farm workers working illegally in the U.S. or Vermont's early stand against slavery. The play may examine the issue in terms of its public ramifications (e.g., court cases, legislation, media coverage) or its private impact (e.g., personal and domestic relationships.) Eligibility of a particular topic should be confirmed with the contact below before time is devoted to writing a play on that topic for submission to the contest.  

  • Plays for children, as well as for adults, are eligible.

  • Single-character plays are eligible, but monologues are not.

  • One-act plays are eligible, but any script submitted must have a running time of at least 45 minutes.

  • Scripts may be no longer than 120 pages, in 12-point font and with margins of 1 inch on each side of the page.

  • Authors may submit up to two plays.

Submission process

  • Complete the Online Application. 

  • Entries by electronic mail are preferred. Each entry must consist of a PDF of the script. The pages must be numbered, and the script must be fronted by a cover page containing only the title, not the author’s name. The file names must include the title of the play, but must NOT inlucde the author's name. This must be uploaded to the contest dropbox linked in the registration form provided below, no later than midnight on June 30th. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted, nor will post-submission corrections.

  • Entries by regular mail will also be accepted. Each entry must consist of three copies of the script in standard script format. The pages must be numbered, and the script must be fronted by a cover page containing only the title, not the author’s name. This submission must be sent to Chandler, ATTN: CONTEST, 71 North Main Street, Randolph, VT 05060, postmarked not later than 5 PM on June 30th. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted, nor will post-submission corrections.

  • An Entry Fee of $20 for a single play or $35 for two plays will collected. Payment options are outlined in the registration form. 

  • Receipt of the script(s) and the fee(s) will be confirmed within two weeks.

  • If a playwright wishes the return of materials submitted by regular mail, he/she/they should include in his/her/their submission a stamped, self-addressed return envelope.


Limitations:  If less than 10 scripts are submitted by June 30th, the fourth round of the contest will be postponed and entry fees will be returned. 


Judging criteria

  • Judges will evaluate scripts on the basis of the quality of the writing – specifically, the language, characterization, and dramatic structure -- (65%) and of the clarity with which the focal issue is presented (35%). At the end of their review, the judges will also rate the overall impact of the play. If two scripts are tied on the basis of the numerical criteria, the overall-impact rating will be used to break the tie.

  • The judges will choose up to five finalist plays, and each play chosen will be awarded a $100 cash prize plus a staged reading. 

  • Since the judges’ review of the scripts will be blind and authors may submit two scripts, it is possible that two finalist scripts may be written by a single author. Even should this be the case, the decisions of the judges shall be final.


Notification to the finalists:  

  • Each finalist will be notified by September 30th. At that time he/she/they will be asked to confirm in writing the certifications made at entry: that the script submitted is his/her/their original work and has not been professionally produced, and that he/she/they has a Vermont connection.  

  • If such certifications are made, the cash prize will be sent to the winning playwright and planning will begin for the staged reading of the play during Chandler’s 2020-21 season.


Staged readings of the finalist plays

  • For each finalist play, Chandler will choose a director with experience suited to the particular character of the script; this choice will be final. The director will cast the play with experienced non-Equity actors from throughout the region; his/her /their casting will be final.

  • Between September 2020 and May 2021, the reading will be scheduled for performance in Chandler’s Upper Gallery based on both the availability of the director and the non-contest programming scheduled for that space.

  • After each reading, a talkback panel moderated by the director may include panelists selected for their connection to the current social issue with which the play is concerned. Audience comments about the script will be transcribed and shared with the finalist author if the author is not present.

  • Finalist authors will be encouraged to attend these readings and talkbacks, but the contest cannot cover any expenses they might incur to do so.


For clarifications about anything in the above material, or questions about topics not covered,

please email Sharon at

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