Return to Headlines

Jefferson Arts Students Earn Honorable Mention in Playwright Competition

Benenaula, O'Donnell to receive citation, gift certificate from The Theater Project

Elizabeth, N.J., October 8, 2020 – Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy senior Diana Benenaula and sophomore Lucille O'Donnell have been selected as an Honorable Mention in the 18th Annual Young Playwrights Competition, sponsored by The Theater Project.

The Theater Project, founded in 1994, is a New Jersey based, 501(c)(3) non-profit theater company whose mission is to bring out the artist in its patrons by engaging their creativity and igniting thoughtful discussion; introducing children and young adults to the excitement of seeing plays performed live and expressing their own creativity; and providing New Jersey playwrights a venue to explore themes they contend with daily.

The goal of the Young Playwrights Competition is to encourage the next generation of theater practitioners by honoring their work and bringing it to life. The competition was originally inspired by a generous donation from Bill Mesce, Jr., an award-winning playwright/screenwriter whose novels have been published by Bantam Books.

Jefferson Arts Academy’s award-winning playwrights will be honored along with ten other student playwrights during a virtual award ceremony on October 19.

“Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy is now home to three different playwrights who have been recognized by The Theater Project over the past couple years,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Diane Barbosa. “These recognitions show that not only do the students at Jefferson Arts Academy put on great stage performances, but also demonstrate outstanding creativity and imagination in writing their own artistic works.”

The Joseph Curka Award received by the students honors the memory of the long-time friend and supporter of The Theater Project. The company presents a wide range of programs, including a free series of monthly readings/discussions of new plays by NJ authors at the Cranford Community Center, sponsored by Friends of the Cranford Library.

The awards received by Benenaula and O'Donnell are reflective of Elizabeth Public Schools’ commitment to providing a high-quality education that promotes growth in all aspects of a child’s development.

“Elizabeth Public Schools prides itself on providing a learning environment that inspires excellence in academics and the arts,” stated Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer. “Diana and Lucille have demonstrated a unique and exceptional ability to apply the skills, knowledge, and creativity developed in both of those areas to succeed as young playwrights.”