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City Theatre Announces Winners of the 2022 Young Playwrights Contest

The winners will have their plays professionally produced by City Theatre, as well as published in the Young Playwrights Anthology.  

City Theatre has announced the winners of the 2022 Young Playwrights Contest. For the past 23 years, City Theatre has held a regional playwrighting contest for students in grades 7-12. The winners will have their plays professionally produced by City Theatre, as well as published in the Young Playwrights Anthology.

"The 2022 Young Playwrights Contest brought us over 250 wonderful stories and voices," said Katie Trupiano, Director of Education and Accessibility. "This year's winning plays introduce us to an exciting mix of new worlds that we can't wait to share with our student audiences. I am in awe of the imagination, creativity and fearlessness of this year's playwrights."

The six winning plays are: The Old Therebefore by Caitlin Abbett and Clara Lopresti, Spark in the Cave by Spencer Anderson, Neighbors by Grace Ruschak, Souls of River Yewa by Arinola Bejide, Stereotyping by Amelia Staresinic, and Deus Ex Machina by Margaret Mateya.

This year's festival will take place between October 25 and November 6, 2022 and will mark the return to live and in-person audiences for the Young Playwrights Festival for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2022 Young Playwrights Festival will be directed by Tru Verret-Fleming and feature a professional design team and local acting company (to be announced).

For educators interested in sharing the festival with their students this fall, or for those who would like to learn more about bringing City Theatre's Young Playwrights program to their classrooms, please contact Katie at


The Old Therebefore

By Caitlin Abbett & Clara Lopresti

8th grade, Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy

Eighty years ago, the mysterious "Old Therebefore" flood wiped everything out, except for the Forestof, a tree house society led by the respected Elder Birch. Ash and Izara, a dynamic duo, question if life exists beyond their peaceful community, they have always known to be home. Follow these two in this thrilling adventure as they travel to an alternate world and discover the truth.

Spark in the Cave

By Spencer Anderson

8th grade, Belle Vernon Area Middle School

Crush and Trave are teenage cave people hungry for new discoveries. Krock, their leader, constantly tries to keep the boys out of trouble, but a few rules never stopped Crush from the excitement of new discoveries, especially discoveries as groundbreaking as fire.


By Grace Ruschak

8th grade, Belle Vernon Area Middle School

Amelia and her mother live next door to Mrs. Morris, a lonely, elderly woman coping with her late husband's death. When her mother forces her to offer support to Mrs. Morris, Amelia spends her summer days next door where an unexpected friendship begins in this heartwarming drama.

Souls of River Yewa

By Arinola Bejide

9th grade, Pittsburgh CAPA

It is said that our souls define who we are. Some souls are designed perfectly for another, some souls are designed to be others, and still others are designed to collect. Embria longs for a child, but her boyfriend, Fela, is too invested in his career as a musician. After learning she is a soul collector from the all-knowing god, Obtala, Embria is transported to another realm where she journeys with a mysterious man on the river Yewa to uncover the truth about who Fela really is.


By Amelia Staresinic

11th grade, Pittsburgh CAPA

Roman is the most popular and professional of them all, and ensures his fellow fonts know it. So what happens when a more creative font Sandy, or the mysterious Luci, is chosen over Roman's tried and true characteristics?

Deus Ex Machina

By Margaret Mateya

11th grade, Bethel Park High School

Two voices exist in the dark of nothingness. The wind of thought guides them everywhere and nowhere, where nothing exists, and nothing does not exist. This thrilling absurdist piece follows Fifymont and Razzlerum through their own self-discovery, and through the world they have built around them.


SPENCER ANDERSON (Spark in the Cave) is a freshman at Belle Vernon Area High School. He is a drummer in the marching band and a member of the drama club. Spencer performed in the musical, School House Rock, Jr., in middle school. He is a Boy Scout in Troop 1543 and a drummer in the MVAA Regimental Fife & Drum. Spencer is excited to see his play performed on the big stage. He would like to thank his mom (Susie), dad (Steve), and brother (Stevie) for their support and his 8th Grade English teacher, Mrs. Carol Aten Frow, for her encouragement and guidance in getting his play into the competition. He'd like to also thank the staff at City Theatre for their help developing his script and producing his play.

CLARA LOPRESTI (The Old Therebefore) is a freshman at Oakland Catholic and previously attended Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy. She is so grateful to be given this opportunity to see her idea come to life in a big way. She would like to thank her phenomenal co-writer, Caitlyn Abbett, for wanting to enter the Young Playwrights Contest and inviting her to write a play together. She would also like to thank her wonderful family for all their amazing support. Finally, she would like to thank City Theatre Company and all the people who work there for their outstanding work and the opportunities they give to young people like her.

GRACE RUSCHAK (Neighbors) is honored to have her play produced by City Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival. She is currently a freshman attending Belle Vernon Area High School. Outside of writing, she studies piano and flute through Seton Hill University, where she is also a member of a flute ensemble. Grace would like to thank her English teacher, Carol Aten Frow and her family for their support and encouragement.

ARINOLA BEJIDE (Souls of River Yewa) is nervous but even more excited to have her play shown at City Theatre. She is a sophomore and literary artist, attending Pittsburgh's CAPA. Arinola partakes in Black Student Union and Stand together and hopes to join more clubs in the future. She is an avid reader and likes anything that deals with creative fiction. Arinola has a great interest in African Mythology, literature, and Neuroscience. She would like to thank her literary class of 2025, afrobeats, and her family for giving her the inspiration she needs.

AMELIA STARESINIC (Stereotyping) is a senior in Literary Arts at Pittsburgh CAPA, and she is honored to have her play performed at City Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival. Her ten-minute play was previously performed by the theater department at CAPA and received an honorable mention from the Scholastic Writing Awards. Amelia enjoys ultimate frisbee, reading, and wilderness backpacking. She would like to thank her dramatic writing teacher Ms. McGranaghan for her wisdom and encouragement and City Theatre for choosing her play out of so many worthy submissions.

MARGARET MATEYA (Deus ex Machina) is a bonafide earthling that has been writing comedy and satire since she was in middle school. She has previously won a gold short story award in the scholastic art and writing program in the Pittsburgh region. Margaret attends Bethel Park High School as a senior and is involved with her school's stage crew as Vice President, as well as the literary magazine, Vernissage. She enjoys volunteering for the local theater in her community. Margaret strives to keep on writing to keep her teachers proud and her will to live aflame. Now she would like to thank her many English teachers, parents, Terry Pratchett, and most importantly Shelby Yonish and Evan Manion. Enjoy the show, you devils.

CAITLYN ABBETT (The Old Therebefore) is a freshman at Aquinas Academy and previously attended Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy. She was so excited when she found out a play she wrote was going to be produced in an actual theater! She loves theater and cannot wait to start acting in high school. She is so happy to be working with her best friend and co-writer, Clara Lopresti. City Theatre Company is so amazing and she's so glad she was presented with this opportunity. She is very excited to be working with them and can't wait to watch her work be staged

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