McNerney Playwriting Contest

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The COVID-19 pandemic not only caused the cancellation of the 2020 Spoleto Festival, USA and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, but also greatly impacted our selection panel and its ability to select this year's winning plays. 

The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the operations of the College of Charleston have caused this truly unfortunate delay in the announcement of the 2020 contest finalists and winners. On November 1st, 2020 the top 10 finalists along with the winning and runner-up plays will finally be announced. In an attempt to recognize the unfairness of and to reconcile for this incredibly long delay, each of the finalist plays will be offered a public reading on Zoom throughout the Spring 2021 semester. Playwright’s permissions will be sought in advance of the date of such readings.  Additionally, since a condition of the annual contest is that the winning and runner-up plays are also  to be presented via public staged readings at Piccolo Spoleto, the 2020 winners will be given their readings along with the 2021 winners at next year's Piccolo Spoleto.   If you have any questions, please click here to email us.  Note: Please note that the live staged readings at the 2021 Piccolo Spoleto Festival are dependent on the state of the pandemic and festival guidelines.

Twelfth Annual National Playwriting Contest  

In 2006 an anonymous donor created the Todd McNerney Playwriting Award to honor faculty member and former Chair Todd McNerney and to recognize the excellence of College of Charleston student playwrights. The initial award was created to be awarded to a student written 10-minute play and continues to this day. In 2009, the same generous donor provided additional resources to create a second award that focuses on full-length plays that is open to playwrights from across the nation. The donor and the award support the development of new plays and raise awareness of the College and its Theatre and Dance Department's commitment to new work.



$400.00 cash prize

Stage reading at the 2020 Piccolo Spoleto Festival

Travel allowance to attend the reading



$100.00 cash prize

Stage reading at the 2020 Piccolo Spoleto Festival


Submission Requirements:

--SASE Business envelope for notification of results

--Material must be unpublished and unproduced.

--Full length, no musicals

--$10 entry fee, payable to College of Charleston

--Open for submission November 1st, 2020

--Deadline February 15th, 2021

--Hard copy mailed to:     

                      Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest                   

                      College of Charleston 

                      Department of Theatre and Dance

                      66 George Street

                      Charleston, SC  29424

All items must be received to be eligible for consideration.


Shannon Horn


(843) 953-6306


McNerney Playwriting Award Winners


Winner -- The Dying Declaration of Madge Oberholzter by Raegan Payne

Runner-Up -- The Poles of Inaccessibility by Craig Pospisil

Finalists -- Dead Behind the Eyes (or The Ingenue Play) by Becca Anderson

                Dinosaur(s)by James Still

                The Dying Declaration of Madge Oberholzter by Raegan Payne

                Indoctrination by Harold Ellis Clark

                Intellectual Property by Richard Lyons Conlon

                Queer Theory by Lacey Alexander

                Parts & Pieces by Amy Tofte

                The Poles of Inaccessibility by Craig Pospisil

                The Savage Queen by Edgar Chisholm

                When They Came by MT Cozzola


Winner -- The Lady Demands Satisfaction by Arthur M. Jolly

Runner-Up -- Rev by Rachel Bykowski

Finalists -- The End Will Hurt by Laura Neill

                 Exposure by Pauline David-Sax

                 Frank by Joanna Castle Miller

                 Frankie and Johnny (The Play) by Keenya Jackson

                 Fuel by Caridad Svich

                 The Gray List by Allen Provost

                 The Hero and the Scholar by Marshall Botvinick

                 The Lady Demands Satisfactuon by Arthur M. Jolly

                 (A) New World by James Still

                 Rev by Rachel Bykowski


Winner – Treehouse by Joe Musso

Runner-Up – Flying by Sheila Cowley

Finalists – The Evolution of Darwin by Steve Warren

                 Family Pains by Erin Osgood

                 Flying by Sheila Cowley

                 The Letters by David Zellnik

                 Radar Range by Maura Campbell

                 The Plastic City by Matthew Kelly

                 Pooka by James McLindon

                 Signature Photo by Michael Bucklin

                 Sycorax: Cyber Queen of Qamara by Fengar Gael

                 Treehouse by Joe Musso


Winner – Swimming Upstream by Rich Rubin

Runner-UpLike a Billion Likes by Erik Forrest Jackson

Finalists - All Things Evolve by Carl L. Williams

                 Black Super Hero Magic Mama by Inda Craig-Galvan

                 Chore Monkeys by Patrick Gabridge

                 Greenville Tomorrow by Chris Widney

                 Infinite Beginnings by David Vazdauskas

                 Queens for a Year by T.D. Mitchell

                 Like a Billion Likes by Erik Forrest Jackson

                 Radical Two by Carlos Jerome

                 The Snowmaker by Aleks Merilo

                 Swimming Upstream by Rich Rubin



Winner – Last Night and the Night Before (formerly Sam) by Donnetta Lavinia Grays

Runner-UpMiranda by James Still



Winner – Safe by Donna Hoke

Runner-UpVeils by Tom Coash



Winner – Spark by Carídad Svich

Runner-UpMad Gravity by William Missouri Downs



Winner – The House That Jack Built by James Still

Runner-UpFortune’s Child by Mark Scharf



Winner – Life Is Mostly Straws by Richard Manly

Runner-UpDead and Buried by James McLindon



Winner - Advanced Women by Michèle Aldin Kushner

Runner-UpThe Willow Grove by Walter Thinnes

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