ETC Announces Winners of Third Annual PLAY/WRITE: The Jackie Demaline Regional Collegiate Playwriting Competition

ETC_logo(Cincinnati, OH) Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC) is pleased to announce the winners and finalists of the third annual PLAY/write: The Jackie Demaline Regional Collegiate Playwriting Competition. The annual collegiate competition nurtures local aspiring dramatists who are helping to shape the future of American theatre and provides a $2,500 juried cash award to support the early work and career of each winner along with staged professional readings of their scripts. This year marked the most submissions received since the inception of the competition for regional undergraduate and graduate student playwrights. Impressed by the overall strength and breadth of this season’s entries, the panelists have decided to name two winners as well as recognize two finalists.

The winners of this year’s prize are Megan Ledford (Wright State University) for her play Hi! Maintenance. and Skye Robinson Hillis (Ohio University) for her play Bury the Rest; each of their plays will receive a full-length staged professional reading streamed through ETC’s YouTube Channel. This year’s finalists are Christin Cato (Indiana University) for her script Stoop Pigeons and Steven Strafford (Ohio University) for his play Greater Illinois; each will receive a short staged reading excerpt of their play, running approximately 10 minutes, that will also be available to stream online.

Excerpts of the finalists’ pieces will premiere on May 12 (Greater Illinois) and May 19 (Stoop Pigeon) with the winning full-length professional staged readings to premiere on May 26 (Hi! Maintenance.) and June 2 (Bury the Rest).

Additionally, the panelists have selected three other playwrights as honorable mentions: 30 Seconds by Jayne Deely (Indiana University), Goodbye Babylon by Trevor Browning (Northern Kentucky University), and Tell Me About the Other Side by Eleanor Alger (Miami University).

“This year’s competition was very close as many entries were well-constructed and each had a unique voice and point of view,” says Programming and Events Manager Jared D. Doren. “This competition is a testament to the younger, local writing talent that is being cultivated in our schools today. We are excited to share some of these works, some comedic, some serious, but all worthy of recognition.”

About the Competition
The competition commemorates the life and work of writer, critic, and theatre enthusiast, Jackie Demaline. A passionate arts advocate, Ms. Demaline served as an important catalyst for change in the theater community and was an entertainment writer and editor for numerous publications. Her legacy lives on through this competition, providing professional development for emerging writers, amplifying new voices and perspectives, and kick-starting arts careers.

About the Plays

Hi! Maintenance. by Megan Ledford
Andy is very content with her life. She may live in one of the most broken apartments New York has ever seen, but she and her roommate, Harper, get by just fine. However, when their trusted maintenance man breaks a hip and Charlie, his replacement, takes over, Andy is forced to let a new person in her life. As this newcomer offers a fresh perspective on Andy’s seemingly perfect existence and her way of thinking, Harper makes decisions that spell rapid change for their relationship and Andy’s life as a whole. 

Bury the Rest by Skye Robinson Hillis
Following the death of their daughter Lucy in a mass high school shooting, exes Margot and Colin find themselves at a moral impasse that leaves Colin’s new wife, Laura, on the outside and their other daughter, Samantha, to navigate this brave new world on her own. Each member of the family tumbles deeper into a rabbit hole of devastation, loneliness, and anger as Lucy confronts the truths of her short life while facing the reality that is her death. As they navigate their relationships and rebuild themselves as a family, it may, in fact, be Lucy who decides their fate. 

Stoop Pigeons by Christin Cato
Stoop Pigeons takes place in the early 2000s when the Bushwick area of Brooklyn began radically gentrifying, spanning a decade that illuminates the cultural changes of the neighborhood and the people who inhabit it. As the demographic changes and introduces a new clientele, it’s the poor Black and Brown folks who are still severely affected.

Greater Illinois by Steven Strafford
Donielle and her husband are offered money (and ultimately threats) to leave their apartment in the South Side of Chicago to a new government-sponsored suburban community. One year later, Patrick, a gay man who is being moved into the same South Side apartment is suddenly met with obstacles when a mysterious person arrives at his door. Greater Illinois is the story of the decisions we make to fight, flee, or freeze.

About the Playwrights

Megan Ledford (Hi! Maintenance.) is a junior pursuing a BA in Acting at Wright State University. With beautiful irony, she is a dyslexic person who loves to read and write. Megan is blessed to have inherited her mother’s inspiring stubbornness, making her determined to participate in this field despite her disability. Megan’s interest in writing began when she joined a sketch comedy group her freshman year at Wright State and has slowly expanded to writing longer form content over the past couple years. 

Skye Robinson Hillis (Bury the Rest) is a playwright, director, and dramaturg based in Chicago. Skye is a two time semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award, and her work has been seen at the Kennedy Center ACTF, Creede Repertory, The Route 66 Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, A Red Orchid Theatre, Piven Theatre Workshop, Artistic Home, Prologue Theatre Company, Polarity Ensemble Theatre, Ohio University, Columbia College, and the City of Chicago’s In the Works Play Lab at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Her play And Vaster was awarded a residency at the New Works Lab at Stratford in 2015 and was the winner of the 2015 Ashland New Plays Festival 2017 Holland New Voices Award at the Great Plains Theatre Conference. As a director and dramaturg, she has worked for Hartford Stage, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, A Red Orchid, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Stage Left, and more. Her other plays include Bury the Rest, Escape Velocity, The Ordinariness of Everything Else, The Running Mate, Into Place, and Selfish. Skye is currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at Ohio University on a full scholarship.Christin Cato (Stoop Pigeons) is a playwright and performer, currently pursuing an MFA in Playwriting at Indiana University. She is a graduate from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and received her BA from Fordham University. Christin is an ensemble member of both Pregones/PRTT and INTAR Theatre’s Unit 52. Embracing her Puerto Rican and Jamaican roots, her artistic style is influenced by Caribbean culture and the Afro-Latinx diaspora. Her plays include Sancocho, Milagro Theatre & Borderlands Theater; jelly beans, Indiana University; What’s Up With Marjorie?, Teatro Vivo; From Hunts Point To Whitlock, Pregones & Harlem9; and Genie in a Pumpkin, Cardinal Stage. Christin is a recipient of the 2020 Greater Good Commission and is also an active member of the Latinx Playwright’s Circle. 

Steven Strafford (Greater Illinois) is an actor and playwright who currently resides in Athens, Ohio, where he is pursuing an MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Methtacular! having performed it across the country at LORT theaters, Steppenwolf Theatre, universities, and LGBTQ spaces. He is also the author of Small Jokes About Monsters which received productions in Houston (nominated for Houston Theatre Award for Outstanding New Play), Sioux City, and Chicago at 16th Street Theater. His play Mona Q: Age 38 received workshops with Route 66 Theatre Company and 16th Street Theater. His short plays Use Your Noodles and The Breakup Play have been produced a few times each. His essay, “College Dreams” was published in the book The Anatomy of Silence.

Performance Information
These virtual readings can be streamed for free through ETC’s YouTube Channel, which can be accessed through the theatre’s main website.


2020-2021 Season Presenting Sponsor is the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is supported, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is a professional theatre dedicated to producing world and regional premieres of works that often explore compelling social issues. We fulfill our mission through our stage productions and educational outreach programs that enlighten, enliven, enrich and inspire our audiences.

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