Ensemble Theatre announces winners of Demaline playwriting competition

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati has announced the winners and finalists of its third annual PLAY/write: The Jackie Demaline Regional Collegiate Playwriting Competition.

The late theater critic, Jackie Demaline

The annual competition nurtures local aspiring dramatists helping to shape the future of American theater. The $2,500 juried cash award is intended 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, panelists named two winners and 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 “Bury the Rest.” Each play will receive a full-length, staged professional reading.

This year’s finalists are Christin Cato (Indiana University) for her script “Stoop Pigeons,” and Steven Strafford (Ohio University) for “Greater Illinois.” Each will receive a short staged reading of an excerpt from their play.

Scheduled readings:

  • May 12 – “Greater Illinois”
  • May 19 – “Stoop Pigeons”
  • May 26 – Hi! Maintenance”
  • June 2 – “Bury the Rest”

Panelists 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 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,” said Jared D. Doren, programming and events manager.

Stream these virtual readings for free through ETC’s YouTube Channel at ensemblecincinnati.org.


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.


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.


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. 

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