Charles M. Getchell New Play Contest

Submission Period

Entries are accepted between March 1 and June 1, annually. Please review the guidelines before filling out and submitting your application. Complete applications should be sent to

Thank you for everyone who submitted applications. The period for submission has now ended. 

About the Award

SETC’s Charles M. Getchell New Play Contest is dedicated to the discovery, development and publicizing of worthy new plays and playwrights. Submissions are accepted between March 1 and June 1, annually. One winning playwright receives a $1,000 cash award and an all-expense paid trip to the annual SETC Convention, where both a critique and staged reading of the winning play are held. The winning play is also considered for online publication and a feature in Southern Theatre magazine.

2020 Winner

28 Light Years From Now by Rachel Bykowski

A staged reading of 28 Light Years From Now by Rachel Bykowski was held Friday, February 28, 2020 as part of the 71st annual SETC Convention in Louisville, KY. The reading was followed by an in-depth response session and critique.

Rachel Bykowski Headshot

About the Play

28 Light Years From Now

In 1942, Josie and Fran’s love is tested when Fran reveals she is leaving to help the War effort with the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.) Josie, unable to move past her family’s painful history with war, deserts Fran and they never speak again until Josie hears of Fran’s death in the War. 28 years later, Josie receives a letter from Fran’s grown daughter, Isabella, who found an old photo of her recently deceased mother and Josie together. Josie sets off to meet Isabella, leaving her daughter, life, and the present behind to revisit the past one more time as she attempts to fix her broken heart from 28 years ago.    

About the Playwright

Rachel Bykowski, a Chicago playwright, writes to explore the many facets of the female identity. Her full-length play, Tight End, has been featured with The National New Play Network (NNPN) in a workshop at the Kennedy Center for the MFA Playwrights’ Festival in 2016, was a top 20 finalist for CulturalDC’s Source Theatre Festival in 2017, and received Honorable Mention for the Jane Chambers 2017 Student Playwriting Award. Her full-length play, Rev, was the runner-up for the 2018 Todd McNerney Playwriting Award, the winner of the 2019 SETC/Stage Rights Ready to Publish Award, and is now available for purchase on Amazon. Rachel’s other plays have been produced and featured in festivals across the United States. Rachel is a playwriting alumna with NNPN and a member of the Dramatists Guild. She received her BFA in playwriting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and her MFA from Ohio University.

2020 Respondent

Craig Pospisil

Craig Pospisil is an award-winning playwright and filmmaker. He’s the author of Months on End, Somewhere in Between, The Dunes and Life Is Short, published by DPS. His work has been seen in New York, LA, around the U.S., and in 17 countries, and has been translated into seven languages. His short film January was screened at over a dozen film festivals, including Bahamas, Berkshire, Big Apple, Hollywood Sky and Roma Cinema. He has written more than 60 short plays, including It’s Not You (theAtrainplays), Dissonance (Best American Short Plays 2010–2011), and There’s No Here Here (Best American Short Plays 2014–2015).

Past Winners

Play Title
2019 Mark Cornelld The Other Half
2018 Sean Michael McCord Moving
2017 W.L. Newkirk Miss
2016 Ben Gierhart Another Man’s Treasure
2015 Will Coleman Helvetica
2014 Robert Plowman The Missing Link
2012 Beth Kander Scrambled
2011 Eddie Zipperer Nicolas the Worm
2010 Alice Shen Entitled
2009 Tommy Trull Honeyboy
2008 Richard Aellen Nobody
2007 Don LaPlant Two Body Problems
2006 Dennis Schebetta Obscura
2005 Scott Lahaie Dogfall
2004 Lew Holton Portal
2003 David Blakely Tales of Shoogilly
2002 William Hayes Going South with Phil and Margaret
2001 Alison Pruitt The Trial of Susan B. Anthony
2000 Linda Nell Cooper April Morning
1999 Steve Downs Glossolalia
1998 Sheryle Criswell …Where Late the Sweet Birds Sing
1997 David Davis Five Exits
1996 (Tie)          Kenneth Robins Atomic Field
1996 (Tie) Thomas W. Stephens Miserere, Passing Through
1995 Jason Milligan Walking on the Moon
1994 Bob King Dry Thunder
1993 Jett Parsley Locked Doors and Lightning Bugs
1992 Richard Zinober The House at the Edge of the World
1991 Adam Kraar A Twist of Faith
1990 Andrew Young Sanctuary
1989 Bernard Sabath Father and Daughter
1988 Jan Henson Dow & Robert Shroeder The Golden Dawn
1987 Eddie DeSantis American Subway
1986 Bobbi Evors Another Dimension
1985 Beverly Shatto Song of the parakeet
1984 Pat Kaufman Cookie Jar