Kemuel DeMoville’s "Merry Men" Wins 2017 Milken Playwriting Prize

Milken Community Schools is proud to announce that the 2017 Milken Playwriting Prize has been awarded to Kemuel DeMoville for his comedy "Merry Men." The biennial Milken Playwriting Prize was created to encourage the writing of plays to be performed by teenagers, with a majority of female roles. The award includes a $2,000 prize and a full production of the play this November at Milken Community Schools in Los Angeles. “Talented playwrights are becoming more aware of the need for large-cast plays that have a majority of female roles,” says the award’s Artistic Director, Robert Menna. “This is a wonderful opportunity for writers internationally to receive support and to work with teen actors.”  
"Merry Men" was chosen through a selection process involving dozens of readers includingtheatere professionals as well as school faculty, staff, students, and parents. The inaugural prize was awarded in 2015 to Walt McGough for his play "Advice for Astronauts." The goal of this competition is to find and foster a piece of theatre that can join the larger landscape of educational theatre, and we hope this will be the first of many productions of this wonderful play.
"Merry Men" will be directed by Sarah Figoten Wilson, who will also be taking the helm of the Milken Playwriting Prize this summer as founder Robert Menna turns his focus to his own playwriting. "'Merry Men' is well-crafted, witty, and has a wonderful message of female empowerment, which I am unabashedly grateful for,” says Wilson. "It also has amazing opportunities to teach physical comedy, clowning, stage combat, and an overall sense whimsy and play which is incredibly refreshing.”
Kemuel DeMoville is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced somewhere in the world every year since 2005. Recently his work was performed at The Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, and various plays he has written were the recipients of the Residents Prize and Hawaii Prize from Kumu Kahua Theatre. He is an Aurand Harris Fellow by designation of the CTFA. He has an MFA in playwriting from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and his MA in syncretic theatre is from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. His work has been published by YouthPLAYS, Heuer Publishing, and is included in "222 MORE Comedy Monologues," an anthology from Smith and Kraus Publishers. Kemuel currently functions as manager of The Leeward Theatre and teaches Beginning Playwriting and other introductory Theatre courses at Leeward Community College on Oahu. He is married with two young sons.

In addition to Merry Men, the Finalists for the Milken Playwriting Prize are:
  • "The Subject" by Carolyn Kras
  • "Kindred Spirits" by Michael Sanchez
  • "Second Sight" by Scott Eldredge
  • "Camp Stowaways" by Tracy Poverstein


Submission Policy

Submission Policy
2019 Prize: Submissions Open June, 2018
Professional playwrights and authors are especially encouraged to submit. There is no fee and produced plays are now also accepted. Plays must:
  • Be written for teens to perform. This does not mean roles must be teenagers.
  • Have a cast size greater than 10 actors, not 10 roles.
  • Have a majority of female roles (both major roles and total roles).
  • Be between 40 and 100 minutes in length.
  • Be plays, not musicals, adaptations, or screenplays.
  • Be nominated by agents, theaters, major play publishing companies, college theater professors, and recognized regional playwright organizations. NOTE: Plays that are not nominated can still be submitted online with a query letter, brief synopsis, and the full script. Nominations are strongly preferred.
  • Be uploaded as a PDF, in standard stage play format, with a title page but NO information identifying the playwright.
  • Use the "Submit Your Play" button on this page when submissions have opened.
  • Only one (1) submission per playwright.


About Us

Robert Menna, Founder/Director of the Milken Playwriting Prize, has extensive experience working with playwrights. He served as Dramaturg/Literary Manager at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre, founded the Seattle Playwrights Alliance, and worked as co-director of the Ojai Playwrights Conference. He has written and directed dozens of plays, working with noted writers and receiving a commission from the Denver Center to adapt Newbery Award Winner Avi’s The End of the Beginning. As an educator, Menna taught in the MFA Acting Program at the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver as well as in various high schools.  He has taught at Milken Community Schools for more than 8 years. He has also co-directed the Denver Center's Living History program, which reached more than 10,000 high school students annually with its mix of theater, history, ethics and literature. He holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington.
Sarah Figoten Wilson’s directing credits include Mary Poppins (Musical Theatre Orange County), Little Women (Chance Theater), She Loves Me (Chance Theater- LA Times Critics Choice), the world premiere of The Face in the Reeds (Ruskin Group Theatre), Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well… (Costa Mesa Playhouse), and Odilia (Hollywood Fringe Festival award winner).  She served as Assistant Director on Death of a Salesman and The...Hat at South Coast Repertory, as well as assisting on the Broadway work sessions for David Mamet’s China Doll starring Al Pacino.  She will be directing the world premiere of Hello Stranger at Theatre of NOTE this Fall.  As a theater educator, Sarah has directed over 1000 students in the 11 years she has run the Performing Arts program at St. Mel School in Woodland Hills.  She is also a costume designer whose work has been nominated for both LA Weekly & NAACP awards.  Sarah is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton & The Ruskin School of Acting’s 2-year Meisner Conservatory and is a company member at the Ruskin Group Theatre.
Milken Community Schools is one of the largest Jewish, independent, co-educational schools in the country. Serving grades 7-12, Milken is a place of rigorous academic exploration and intellectual inquiry built on a foundation of spiritual and ethical practice, developing students with sharp minds, generous hearts, and kind souls. The school's 10-acre campus is located in the Santa Monica Mountains along the Mulholland Corridor.
What is the Milken Playwriting Prize?
The Milken Playwriting Prize is a biennial theater prize for plays that are written for teen actors to perform.  The prize is $2,000, with a play development process culminating in a full production at Milken Community Schools.  The goal is to encourage skilled playwrights and authors to write extraordinary plays that are suited to teen actors: shorter plays with large casts and more roles for females. Most playwrights today are focused on writing small cast shows for theaters, even though many opportunities exist for larger high school productions throughout the English-speaking world. The Milken Playwriting Prize winner will be widely publicized.

The Milken Prize provides the two most exciting benefits possible for a working playwright: meaningful financial support and the chance to engage with a talented and passionate group of artists and students. I count the experience among the artistic highlights of my career.
—Walt McGough


Play Prize Timeline

Play Prize Timeline
Submissions for the 2019 Milken Playwriting Prize will open in mid-2018, with the winning play announced and produced in 2019. Check back for details.
Email Director Sarah Figoten Wilson at



School Information

Saperstein Middle School Campus
    15900 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049  
    Tel 310.903.4800 

Upper School Campus 
    15800 Zeldins’ Way, Los Angeles, CA 90049  
    Tel 310.440.3500  
    Fax 310.471.5139

Milken School is a college prep private day school in Los Angeles established on the foundation of the highest academic standards and Jewish values. This Jewish Day School serves students in grades 7-12.

Milk'n Cookies Disclaimer
Nothing enhances cookies like milk does. Similarly, nothing allows Milken to improve your user-experience and our communication processes like cookies do. Milken's site uses cookies and other technologies so that we can remember you and understand how you use our site. Further use of this site will be considered consent.