Coe College Playwriting Festival

(Biennial Contest: Deadline Nov. 1, even years. Residency: April, odd years)

We seek a new, full-length, original, unproduced and unpublished play in its final stages of development that would benefit from a week-long workshop at Coe. No musicals, adaptations, translations or collaborations will be considered.

This is an excellent development opportunity for emerging, professional playwrights. Spend a week in residence workshopping your play with a professional director, faculty, students and community theatre artists.


  • For the playwright: We want to provide you resources, time and space with which to develop and experiment with your work. In addition to helping you take your play to the next level, we also will give you some teaching experiences, as you will conduct master classes with our students. Finally, you'll have some networking opportunities to learn about and connect with theatre professionals in eastern Iowa.
  • For our students: This is an opportunity for our students to meet and interact with a working playwright, and to observe how plays evolve. Our students will be involved with the workshop either directly as participants, or indirectly as observers.


  • One new play will be selected for a week-long rehearsal and workshop that will culminate in a public staged reading by students, faculty members, or individuals from the community. The winning playwright will receive an award of $500 plus travel, room and board for a week-long residency at Coe.


Any playwright with U.S. citizenship is encouraged to submit plays for consideration. Only one entry per playwright, please. To submit, please send the following:

  • One clean, bound script
  • A resume
  • The play's development history
  • A statement of development goals for your play (one page)


Scripts will be accepted between October 1 and November 1. Notification by January 10.


Susan Wolverton
Chair, Dept. of Theatre Arts
Coe College
1220 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

2015 Festival Winner: Kristin Idaszak
The Liar Paradox

Kristin Idaszal

Kristin Idaszak

On New Year's Eve, a catastrophic car accident leaves Mark's twin sister in a coma and his girlfriend dead. When nude photographs of his sister surface on the Internet, Mark goes in search of answers to what happened that night, and in the process is forced to confront her boyfriend, their father and his own secrets. "The Liar Paradox" explores the nature of death in the Information Age and the timelessness of love, deception and identity.

"The Liar Paradox" was developed through a Downstage Left Playwright Residency at Stage Left Theatre in Chicago. The play received the second-place Paula Vogel Award and was nominated for Kilroys List.

Idaszak is a Southern California - and Chicago-based playwright and theatre artist. Her plays have been produced or developed with companies in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Providence and Washington, D.C. She has received residencies from the Qualcomm Institute, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Stage Left Theatre. Idaszak's "Second Skin" received the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award.

The playwright has also been nominated for a Jeff Award for Best New Work and the Kilroys List. Idaszak will be the 2015 Kennedy Center Fellow at the Sundance Theatre Institute. Previously, she served as associate artistic director/literary manager of Caffeine Theatre and associate artistic director of Collaboraction. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative. Idaszak is currently pursuing an MFA in playwriting at the University of California - San Diego.

2013 Festival Winner: Michael Erickson
Honor Student

Michael Erickson

Michael Erickson

Honor Student, a new play by Michael Erickson, has been selected as the winning entry of Coe's National Playwriting competition, held biennially.

Mr. Erickson will be in residency at Coe the week of March 25 to work with students in playwriting classes. Honor Student will be presented as a staged reading on March 28 at 7 p.m. in the Mills Theatre. No tickets are required for the reading, but seating will be limited so please arrive early. A discussion with the playwright will follow the reading.

Honor Student takes place on a college campus and explores the tension between a playwriting instructor and one of her best students, who writes a play that could be considered an act of harassment or terrorism. And yet, the student is simply using freedom of expression to push the boundaries of the art form. Or is he? Erickson has matched teacher against student in an intriguing power play that pits reality against fiction.

Those involved in the reading include: Coe alum Katie Becker '07, current Coe students Connor Swanson and Kelci de Haas, local actress Marty Norton, guest artist Ezra Colon and director Steven Marc Weiss.

A graduate of the MFA Theater Program at the University of California, San Diego, Michael Erickson teaches playwriting and dramatic literature at Webster University in St. Louis. His plays have been produced at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Dance Theatre Workshop, and Via Theatre in New York; A Director's Theater in Los Angeles; the Empty Space Theatre, Pioneer Square Theatre, and the Floating Theatre in Seattle; Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis; the Cleveland Public Theatre; and the Imaginary Theater Co. (St. Louis Repertory). His collaboration with Malashock Dance & Co., Apologies from the Lower Decks, toured the country and was produced on PBS. His work has won several awards, including a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Playwriting, a California Arts Council Award and the Mobil Playwriting Competition International Prize (Royal Exchange Theatre, England). He was Playwright-in-Residence at the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville for the 2011-2012 season, where he developed Honor Student. A recent play, Alien Hand Syndrome, was produced at MadLab Theatre, OH and Moving Arts Theatre, LA, and was published in Regional Best 2011, an anthology of new plays.

2011 Festival Winner: Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee's plays include Ching Chong Chinaman; Hookman; in a word; A Man, his Wife, and his Hat; and Samsara. She has been a Dramatists Guild fellow, a MacDowell Colony fellow, and a member of the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. She has been a finalist for the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Heideman Award, the Jerome Fellowship, the PEN USA Literary Award for Drama, the PONY Fellowship, and the Wasserstein Prize.

Her play Ching Chong Chinaman was a finalist for the 2008 Princess Grace Award and the winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s 2010 Paula Vogel Award and Kumu Kahua Theatre’s 2007 Pacific Rim Prize. Named one of the top 10 plays by the East Bay Express and City Pages, the play has been produced at Berkeley’s Impact Theatre, Minneapolis’s Mu Performing Arts, the New York International Fringe Festival, New York City’s Pan Asian Rep, and Seattle’s SIS Productions. The play will be published by Samuel French later this year. Her work has also been developed at the Hangar Theatre, the Public Theatre, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and others.

The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Kennedy Center, the O’Neill Studio at Yale, and PlayGround have previously commissioned her work. She is currently working on new commissions for AlterTheater (slated for production in 2011), the Kennedy Center, and Mu Performing Arts (with support from the MAP Fund).

A graduate of Yale University, Lauren is pursuing her MFA in playwriting at UCSD, studying under Naomi Iizuka.