Playing on Air’s 2020 James Stevenson Prize for Comedic Short Plays

In his cartoons for The New Yorker, James Stevenson told stories about the human comedy with energy and economy. Returning for its third consecutive year, Playing on Air’s Stevenson Prize will honor three original comedies that perpetuate Mr. Stevenson’s spirit and wit, bringing the finest new American short plays to a national audience.


$6,000 award, plus a Playing on Airrecording of the winning play for radio and podcast distribution


$3,000 award


$1,000 award



  • Submissions will be judged for literary merit, originality, and humor. 2020 Guest Judges will be announced after submissions have closed.

  • They’re particularly excited about plays that embrace the creative possibilities of storytelling through sound and language. Your play may include brief moments of music, but it shouldn’t be a musical. We’re unable to accept any supplementary tracks or audio files.

  • Special consideration will be given to the script’s suitability for audio recording and public radio broadcast.

  • Single-character monologues and plays that rely on the extensive use of a chorus, stage directions, or visual elements are discouraged.

  • Please do not include sound design cues or instructions beyond standard stage directions.

  • Playing on Air invites writers to submit a short comedic play of 10-25 pages (not counting title page).

  • One submission will be accepted per entrant. Additional entries will disqualify the writer.

  • All entries must be original, unpublished, and unproduced plays.

  • Even in revised form, plays that have been previously submitted to the Stevenson Prize competition or to Playing on Air are ineligible.

  • Entrants must be at least 21 years of age by May 15, 2020. By entering, playwrights consent to Playing on Air’s recording and distribution of any winning plays.

The Preliminary Submission Period will run from February 27, 2020 – April 26, 2020 at 11:59pm EST. During this period, there is no submission fee. We strongly encourage playwrights to submit their work well ahead of April 26 to avoid the extended deadline fee.

The Extended Submission Period will run from April 27, 2020 – May 15, 2020 at 11:59pm EST. During this period, a $5 fee will be applied to every submission. No exceptions will be made to this deadline.

Published on:
30 Mar 2020


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