Premiere Stages at Kean University Has Announced 2020 Premiere Play Festival Finalists

By: Mar. 03, 2020
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Premiere Stages at Kean University Has Announced 2020 Premiere Play Festival Finalists

Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has selected its finalists for the 2020 Premiere Play Festival. Now in its 16th year, the Festival is an annual competition for unproduced scripts that offers developmental opportunities to playwrights with strong affiliations to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The number of submissions to the 2020 Play Festival dramatically increased to a record 939, a 30% increase from the previous record set in 2019. The Premiere Stages team narrowed the pool down to twenty-six semifinalists, each with significant potential. Given the exceptional promise of the 2020 entries, for the first time in the history of Premiere Stages, Premiere Stages will select two Play Festival winners to receive full productions as part of the season (previously only one Finalist was produced as part of each season). This second production will replace the slot usually filled by a NJ Premiere of a play that has been previously produced elsewhere. In addition, the number of playwrights afforded professional readings as part of the Spring Reading Series will increase from four to five.

"The number of playwrights who submit to the Premiere Stages Play Festival each year continues to grow exponentially and we are pleased to increase the opportunities available to regional playwrights," stated John J. Wooten the producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. "Given the exceptional quality of plays we received, we are particularly excited about adding a new play to the 2020 lineup for a season of all new works."

The 2020 finalists are:

Songbird by Rachel Luann Strayer (March 11th at 7pm) - Jess is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter who doesn't want to talk about why she abandoned her career. In fact, she doesn't want to talk about it so badly that she hasn't spoken in months. Jess's sister, Brit, thinks a beach trip to their old family vacation spot is just the trick to get Jess to open up. As tensions rise and a young visitor arrives seeking her help, Jess knows there are words that have to be spoken; she's just hoping she has the right ones

Scab by Gino Diiorio (March 12th at 7pm) - Gilda, a middle-aged women, has to train Eduardo, a young Mexican man, how to be a shop foreman when her factory plant moves to Mexico. Over the course of a week, they discover that their assumptions regarding personal expectations and cultural differences are not always correct.

Lyons Pride by Bleu Beckford-Burrell (March 13th at 7pm) - The Lyons household is struggling to stay afloat but doesn't find itself lacking in pride. A family play, about living, love, identity and overcoming life challenges, Lyons Pride explores what it means to be Jamaican in America and the similarities many families share as immigrants.

My Mother the Sun by Massimo Monfiletto (March 14th at 7pm) - When her mother goes missing in the desert between the US/Mexico border, Solana must journey out with a group of activists to bring her back. As her past begins to haunt her, she must undertake an extraordinary transformation in the hopes of keeping her family together.

Year One by Erik Gernand (March 15th at 3pm) - In 1933 Germany, Anna struggles to keep her family afloat during the first year of Adolph Hitler's rise to power. When her brother Max arrives unexpectedly from Berlin, Anna's life is thrown into even greater turmoil when the true reason for his visit is uncovered and she's forced to choose between family and country.

All finalists will receive professional readings as part of Premiere's 16th annual Spring Reading Series March 11-15, and will be considered for expanded development in Premiere's mainstage season. One of the five plays will be selected for an Actors' Equity Association (AEA) 29-Hour Reading in June, and the two most promising plays will be awarded a full AEA production as part of Premiere's 2020 season. All finalists receive cash awards ranging from $750 to $2,500. Readings are offered by invitation only. To request admission to any of the readings, please call 908-737-4077 or email

The following semifinalists were also honored in this year's competition: Dear Ann by Nikki Brake-Sillá, 28 Light Years From Now by Rachel Bykowski, East Rock by Kevin Daly, The Shaking Earth by Mashuq Deen, #GodHatesYou by Emily Dendinger, The Is That Should by Susan Ferrara, how it feels to fall from the sky by Dominic Finocchiaro, When We Fall by Emma Gibson, Aliyah by Kathryn Grant, God Test by Jess Honovich, The Distance by Ken Jaworowski, Dance Moms by Ying Ying Li, Cacti by Daphne Macy, Everything Beautiful Happens at Night by Ted Malawer, Hitch by James McLindon, Ghetto Babylon by Michael Mejias, We Built Our Homes Near Kingdoms of Animals and Magic by Omar Velez Melendez, One-Shot by Andrew Rosendorf, The Opus by Andrew Truschinski

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Please call 908-737-4077 to request a sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performance. For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at