Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Select Page

Notre Dame College has started a national search for the best and most promising theatrical works relevant to young audiences.

Digital copy submissions to the College’s Performing Arts National Playwriting Festival for 2021 are due in document or PDF format via email at by Friday, October 1. Scripts received after that date will be considered the following year. The College does not charge a submission fee for entries.

The College will host its annual festival on Monday, December 6, and Tuesday, December 7, showcasing unproduced plays and musicals for young adults and children. The two-day event will consist of three to five staged readings of previously unseen theatrical works and will take place in the Regina Auditorium on the Notre Dame campus.

Finalists for the festival  are expected to be announced through Notre Dame media in late October. During the festival in December, the productions will be showcased in a reader’s theatre format open to the public. The plays selected will be acted by Notre Dame student actors with a mix of regional artists where necessary.

The winning theatrical work will be chosen by a selection panel, with consideration given to an audience vote, and announced at a reception upon conclusion of the festival. The selected playwright will receive a $500 prize, as well as the opportunity to present a fully staged production of their play at the College on Thursday and Friday, March 3 and 4, 2022.


Submitted materials will be reviewed for the specified criteria and be passed to a seven-person panel who will judge the merits of each work. Panel members will include the Pierre-Jacques Brault, director of theatre at the College, a member of Notre Dame’s performing arts faculty, a member of the Notre Dame’s English department, a playwriting scholar and three Notre Dame students majoring in theatre entrepreneurship.

Through individualized and joint adjudication, the submissions will be narrowed down to a selection of three to five plays and musicals deemed ready for a reading. Playwrights will be notified of the status of their submission in mid-October and promotion about the chosen material will begin thereafter.

Upon conclusion of the festival in December 2021, the winner is granted the option to receive a fully developed and produced show as part of College’s spring performance series. A cash prize of $500 also will be awarded to the winner, dependent upon funding.


  • Criteria for submissions are as follows:
  • The theatrical work must be a full-length play or musical for children or young adults without a prior production.
  • The submission must include a brief synopsis with a complete digital manuscript. No hard-copy submissions will be accepted.
  • The manuscript must include a contact phone number and e-mail address on the play’s title page.
  • Only one work per author may be submitted each year.
  • The play must be appropriate for audiences of all ages. Dramas, comedies and farces (with or without music) are welcome.
  • The play must be at least 1 hour and no longer than 90 minutes.
  • Cast size is limited to no less than four or no more than 22.
  • Plays that can effectively be cast within our market will be considered favorably.
  • All qualifying submissions will be read by five to seven individuals.

Be advised that the following are not considered qualifying submissions: screenplays submitted as theatrical works, plays with excessive profanity or violence or scripts that are inappropriate for youth audience members.

Playwrights who are questioning whether their play is a good match for the Notre Dame New Play Festival are strongly encouraged to contact Brault at before submitting. All plays that are not selected for the current festival can be resubmitted for up to two consecutive festivals, granted no production of the material has occurred.


The tentative timeline for the 2021 Notre Dame Performing Arts New Play Festival is:

  • September 1: Begin accepting submissions
  • October 1: Submission deadline
  • October 15: Semi-finalists announced
  • November 15: Festival finalists announced
  • December 6-7: Annual Notre Dame New Play Festival
  • March 3-4, 2022: Premiere production of winning work at the College


Hosting such a new play festival allows Notre Dame Performing Arts to fulfill and enhance its mission of enriching the community and the appreciation of the arts through live performance. By utilizing the talents of the Notre Dame students, Mercury Theatre Company professional actors and additional regional artists, the festival furthers our efforts to utilize the stage as a platform to educate, enlighten and entertain the greater Cleveland community.

The Notre Dame New Play Festival joins the ranks of Penn State, the University of Iowa and the Yale School of Drama as platforms for unproduced works, while maintaining the distinction of hosting the only New Play Festival in the Midwest solely dedicated to new theatrical works for children and young adult audiences.

The annual festival serves as a launchpad for unproduced theatrical works in a way that distinguishes Notre Dame from other area organizations and promotes the programming at the College to a nationally recognized level.

This is the third year for the Notre Dame Performing Arts New Play Festival. The 2020 winning work, “Alice In Neverland” by Maggie Rader premiered at the College in April 2021. The winner of the 2019 Notre Dame Performing Arts New Play Festival, “MIDNITE” by Rory Leahy and Rena Hardy, received its world premiere production February 2020, also at the College.

September 2021


About Notre Dame College

Notre Dame College is a private, Catholic, liberal arts college in South Euclid, Ohio, committed to teaching students how to make a good living and live a good life. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. For more information, visit