Top 10 Plays Announced In The 10th Annual National Jewish Playwriting Contest

This year, nine of the 10 finalist plays were written by women, the most in the JPP's history.

By: Dec. 28, 2020
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Top 10 Plays Announced In The 10th Annual National Jewish Playwriting Contest

The Jewish Plays Project has announced the 10 finalists for the 10th Annual Jewish Playwriting Contest. Over 250 playwrights from forty states and eight countries submitted plays to the contest. This year, nine of the 10 finalist plays were written by women, the most in the JPP's history.

Contest Dramaturg Heather Helinsky led the JPP's 2021 selection process. A professional dramaturg whose credits include current Literary Manager of Playwrights Foundation, Great Plains Theatre Conference, board member for LMDA, and a teaching artist for the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival, Helinsky helmed a team of more than 70 artist panelists.

"They represent a giant array of Jewish perspectives and identities," says Artistic Director David Winitsy. " They read 255 plays with a truly extraordinary depth and passion; the top 40 plays received at least seven reads each. The plays on this list have earned their place on the list."

"The JPP was born ten years ago, and over 1600 plays later, so much has changed in contemporary Jewish life - some for the better and some not. The plays on our list ask critical questions about this critical time," adds Winitsky. "That's why the JPP exists - to create community dialogue around things that matter, and ultimately, to champion these plays as they move onto the best stages in the world."

The JPP will hold regional contests in Chicago, Hartford, Houston, and the Bay Area, in addition to a national celebration of the finalists in early summer. It will conduct this year's contests online, a format that allowed the JPP to reach numerous first-time viewers around the country and the world through its 2020 digital contest last March.

More than 1,000 people will contribute to choosing the ultimate 2021 winner, in a unique process that provides one-of-a-kind feedback to playwrights and invaluable audience response to prospective producers.

The writers who penned the final plays for this year's Jewish Playwriting Contest are an impressive group. Their works have been presented at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ars Nova, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, Page 73, WP Theater, New Georges, The Cherry Lane and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.

The finalists are:

· ARISTAEUS by Elizabeth Savage: Aristaeus is the story about a young urban beekeeper who lives in the Bronx. His rooftop is his respite, his bees a solace from the world below.

· GO DOWN, MOSES by Dana Leslie Goldstein: When a controversial speaker visits a liberal college campus, racist incidents follow, forcing every character to reevaluate their role in the struggle for justice.

· LEO AT YESHIVA by Emma Horwitz: A Shabbos ascent into the multi-million-dollar industry of lice-picking. Three women ferociously feed on their hairiest dreams while swimming in tubs of Pantene.

· OKLAHOMA SAMOVAR by Alice Eve Cohen: In 1887, two Latvian teenagers flee Russia and become the only Jews in the Oklahoma Land Run. A century later, their daughter reinvents their story, aided by ghosts, blintzes and strong Russian tea.

· PART by Mariel Eve Berlin-Fischler: This Shabbat, one mother must choose between family connection and family protection.

· SH@MED by Joanna Castle Miller: An aspiring writer's public shaming reveals a dark secret and forces her family to face the past in a new way.

· there will come a time for vengeance by Eric Marlin: Within the horrifying chambers of the Christian imagination, four Jews chart the psychological violence of internalized anti-Semitism. A revenge adaptation of The Merchant of Venice.

· WHAT WE FOUND by Molly Olis Krost: A new play about mixed-raced identity, how we choose to define "family," and what we keep hidden away in our garage.

· WHO BY FIRE by Talisa Friedman: Over six holidays, the members of a Jewish family grapple with how-or whether-to maintain their religious identity in the modern era.

· THE WRONG QUESTION by EllaRose Chary: A series of anti-Semitic incidents at a wealthy, predominately white synagogue in a gentrifying low-income black neighborhood, change Vashti and Lita's friendship forever.

Find full information on all of the plays - including writer or agent contact information - at the JPP's website: Interested producers, agents, and literary managers can email

Celebrating its 10th year, the JPP has a proven track record of success as both a hub for artists and an international launching pad for new plays. In 2020, the JPP proudly saw a contest finalist premiere off-Broadway, with Cary Gitter's The Sabbath Girl presented at 59E59 in a production from Penguin Repertory Theatre.

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