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2021 Writers Search Finalists



PARIS CRAYTON III Only Some of God's Children or Mississippi Magnolias

Set two days after the 1963 March on Washington, John Malachi Curtis, and his best friend, William Cochise Brown, return home to Mississippi to unpack all of the emotions left over from the March, only to find, John's son, Ezekiel, has been attacked during a sit-in protest. Betty, John's wife, wants to leave Mississippi for good but the promise of land and remnants of love makes John unwilling to do so. This is a story of five different flowers just waiting to bloom.

Paris Crayton III is an award-winning playwright, actor, and director. He was one of ArtsATL's "30 under 30" and Atlanta Journal Constitution's "Artist to watch." Creative Loafing named him 2014's "Best Local Playwright." Critics have called him "a powerful dramatist" and praised him as "One of the most important playwrights of our time." His plays have been presented and/or workshopped by The Lark, Classical Theatre of Harlem, NewYorkRep, Aurora Theatre, Clark University, Working Title Playwrights, Stage Door Players, Rising Sage Theatre, 3 Hill Productions, Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, and more. Visit Paris' website HERE or connect on Twitter or Instagram.


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Call Me By Your Name meets Shawshank Redemption. Based on his award winning, bestselling book, Fish: A Memoir of A Boy in a Man's Prison (Hachette Book Group).  It is a coming-of-age love story of a gay, 17-year-old androgynous boy, sent to an adult prison in the 1970s where he finds what he's searching for and a whole lot more.

TJ Parsell is filmmaker, author and human rights activist dedicated to using film as a vehicle for social change. He holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and his award winning films on social justice issues have screened at films festivals around the globe.

Connect with T.J. on Twitter or Facebook.


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As Hurricane Harvey’s landfall approaches Houston, Salomé Salas is stranded with their estranged Mexican immigrant family. Tensions are high as their parents, Humberto and Yolanda, grapple with their return, unaware that Salomé has been expelled from college after a violent mental breakdown. Magdalena, Salomé’s sister, tries to keep them from recklessly sabotaging their familial relationships. Jealousy and resentment permeate Humberto and Salomé’s interactions, while Yolanda falls deeper into despair and disgust. As Harvey rages on, Magdalena documents her family’s life, violence, and trauma in a series of audio recordings.


Alicia Margarita Olivo is a Houston-based Mexican American playwright, performer, and weather enjoyer, whose work focuses on the fiery interactions between identity, gender, rage, and memory. Alicia is currently part of The Workshop Theater's Workshop Intensive, The Citadel of Playwrights Cohort, and the Rec Room Writers Group cohort. Alicia's play Count Yourself Among The Lucky received a reading as part of the Sin Muros: A Borderless Teatro Festival. Alicia’s plays have been developed and received readings with Stages, Company One Theater, The Workshop Theater, Teatro Chelsea, Telatúlsa, AlterTheater, and The Inkwell Theater. Alicia has been a Finalist for AlterTheater, La Lengua Teatro's Historias de Descolonización Commission, Theatre Lab at FAU's Fair Play Initiative, Texas State University's Black and Latino Playwrights Celebration New Play Development Workshops, and a Semi-Finalist for The Future of Playwriting Prize, twice. Alicia holds a B.A. in Theatre Studies and Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies from Wellesley College.

Visit Alicia's website HERE or connect on Twitter or Instagram.

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ARIANNA ROSE The Equivalent of Sensation

Real-life sisters and art collectors Etta and Claribel Cone, long dead, materialize at the unveiling of the million- dollar renovation of their renowned Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Modern Art. Family friend Gertrude Stein and her paramour Alice Toklas pop up uninvited, much to Etta’s dismay.  Etta struggles with her feelings for Gertrude and her love for modern art, at direct odds with her Victorian mores.  Boundaries of female friendship and sibling rivalry are explored in Baltimore, Paris and Italy, amid the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Etta struggles to shed her layers and embrace ‘sensualité’. The Equivalent of Sensation examines life lessons, feminism, and defiance in a time when women were expected to be heterosexual homemakers.

Arianna Rose is the recipient of the MAC Song of the Year Award, York Theatre NEO Award, and playwright awards from Theatre Odyssey, Tree City Playhouse, Mixing It Up Productions, the Know Theatre, Studio 1 Theatre, Third Citizen Theatre Company, South Baldwin Theatre and Clocktower Theatre Company. Her work has been presented in twenty-four states and seven countries. 2020 finalist, Edward Kleban Lyric Writing Award, and one of three finalists for the 2020 Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing UK. She was one of four playwrights in the 2019-2021 Miami-Dade County Council of Cultural Affairs Playwright Development Program, moderated by Kia Corthron. Her work is published by Applause Books, Smith & Kraus, and Theatre Odyssey. M.F.A., NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program; B.A. Bucknell University; BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. Member: ASCAP, Musicians Union, New Play Exchange, South Florida Theatre League, The Dramatists Guild of America.

Visit Arianna's website HERE or connect on Twitter, Instagram or New Play Exchange.

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Katherine and Michael love Samantha more than anything. But she’s gone now, and all they can do is reflect on the time she was here and try to pick up the shattered pieces of the lives they should have lived together. 

Kaylon Willoughby is a playwright and director from Pumpkin Center, Louisiana. As a lesbian, her greatest focus in writing is amplifying queer voices in regions where they are usually silenced, such as her home region in the southern United States. She will soon be graduating with a theatre degree from Northwestern State University of Louisiana with plans to keep writing and directing.

Connect with Kaylon on Twitter.


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BRUCE R. COLEMAN A Conversation with a (potentially) Naked Man

After a devastating breakup, Vince, a painter, finds himself experiencing a prolonged bout of Artists Block. Looking for inspiration, Vince hires the earthy and challenging Frank, an artists model, to sit for him. The two men, from two completely different worlds, proceed to navigate the thorny path of connection and vulnerability.

Bruce R. Coleman has been a professional Theatre Artist in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for many years. His work as a Director, Costume and Set Designer, and Playwright has been recognized by the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), The Doris Duke Foundation, The DFW Theatre Critics Forum, The Dallas Voice, The Dallas Observers 'Best Of...' series, The Steve Lovett Award for best new play, The Column Awards, The Leon Rabin/Dallas Theatre League Awards, The Pride Write Festival, and the South West Play Writing Festival. Naked Man is Bruce's first screenplay.

Connect with Bruce on Instagram.

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When a non-binary evangelical pastor is publicly outed, they must navigate a new world, wrestling between authenticity and influence in order to keep their marriage and church in tact.

Beecher Reuning is a non-binary filmmaker from the Bible Belt of Tennessee. While their work spans many different subjects, they are most passionate about telling stories that deconstruct oppressive ideologies in order to promote authenticity and a larger spiritual connection. They received their MFA in Cinema-Television Directing from Regent University in 2015.

Connect with Beecher on Instagram or TikTok.

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ZACH SHULTZ Pride Guide '85

A gay millennial with literary ambitions finds the story of a lifetime through a connection to one man who died of AIDS in the 1990s.

Zach Shultz is an MFA candidate in the Creative Writing Program at Louisiana State University and the nonfiction editor for LSU's literary magazine New Delta Review. In 2019, he was selected as a nonfiction fellow to the Lambda Literary Writer's Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in LitHub, Electric Lit, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Pride Guide '85 is his screenwriting debut.

Connect with Zach on Instagram or Twitter.


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You might not be surprised to hear this but theatre kids can be dramatic. And once these people go to college, the stakes get raised even higher. There’s competition, heart break, betrayal, and melt-downs. Lots and lots of meltdowns. And as I watched this all go down in my real life, I realized that anyone watching from an outside perspective might find it a bit ridiculous and even comical. So, I created a fictional world of musical theatre students that represent the variety of personalities and talents you might find in a college program. I wanted the camera to be the perspective of an outsider and follow these students as they navigate college, sexuality, gender, and their artistry. It’s my love letter to the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre and its people.

Anna McGuire is a senior musical theatre major at the University of Oklahoma. She is a performer, specializing in comedy and improvisation. Anna is an emerging writer who has written various plays and scripts, and hopes to launch her first web series in the Spring. Connect with Anna on Instagram.

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MATT MORSE Stars & Stripes

In a fleeting night under the stars, a young couple fight for their relationship before one leaves for bootcamp the next day.

Matt is a Kentucky based writer and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. His short plays have had readings at the University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and as a part of the Kennedy Center National Playwriting Program. A huge thanks to the Del Shores foundation for recognizing the dynamic stories living in the souls of Southern writers! Connect with Matt's website HERE or on Instagram.

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