By Laurelle Walsh

Methow Valley Theater is sponsoring a play-writing contest called “Pen the Play,” complete with prizes and the chance for one or two talented winners to get a self-penned play produced in the Methow Valley.

Local playwrights from Okanogan and Chelan counties have until May 1, 2015, to develop and submit their script. Plays may be any length and of any genre: musical, comedy, mystery or drama to name a few, according to Nadine Van Hees, who along with Gregg Hardy is organizing the contest.

“I’d personally been approached about co-writing a play several times in the past, but it seemed that all parties didn’t have the time, or the confidence to pursue it,” Van Hees said. “So knowing there were more than a few individuals out there with the desire to write a play, but lacking a certain motivation, I thought, ‘What if we gave them some motivation? What if we gave them confidence?’”

Van Hees said she already knows of two people in the area who are working on scripts they started years ago, but never had the motivation to finish. “I’m hoping when the word gets out, there will be quite a few more. I think there are a few folks holding their cards pretty close to their chests,” she said.

A panel of independent judges will read and evaluate the scripts, whose authors will remain unknown while judging is taking place, Van Hees said. Judging will be based solely on quality of content and entertainment value, she said.

The first-place adult playwright will receive a $1,000 prize; the winning young writer (under 18 years of age) will receive $500 in the form of an education scholarship.

Winning plays will be produced by Methow Valley Theater in the spring of 2016. If multiple noteworthy scripts are received, the theater may showcase scenes from the runners-up, said Van Hees. “If we get awestruck with talent, we may change our plans as well. No noteworthy script will go unrewarded.”

“The prospect of working with the writer to produce a completely new and unknown body of work is exciting for us, and will no doubt be pretty exciting for the winners,” Van Hees continued. “The author and — if applicable — composer will have every resource available to us.”

Methow Valley Theater will also assist playwrights in copywriting their work (if desired) once the judging is finished.

Entrance fees are $100 for adults, $50 for youth. Two need-based scholarships will be awarded in each category.

Entries should be sent to Methow Valley Theater, P.O. Box 114, Twisp, WA 98856, attention “Contest,” before May 1, 2015. Name and contact information should appear on the cover page only.

Scholarship requests should be sent to the same address and include a letter requesting the scholarship along with the first 10 pages of the script.

For more information contact Van Hees at (509) 429-0454.