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46 Merchant St
Honolulu, HI, 96813
United States



Contests & Writing

Each year, Kumu Kahua Theatre conducts a playwriting contest with three categories:

Plays set in Hawai`i

Plays set in the Pacific Rim

Plays of any topic, written by residents of Hawai`i

Winning playwrights receive cash prizes and are regularly offered the opportunity to see their scripts included in a future Kumu Kahua season.

Do you have a script or two in you?  Our submission date is always early January… please keep writing through the year!

Here is information on playwriting contests throughout the country.  Seriously… keep writing!


We thank all of the entrants this year and proudly announce our 2018 award recipients:

The winner of the $600 Hawai‘i Prize is Eric Stack of Keaʻau, Hawai‘i for Kūpe‘e.

Lauren Yee of New York, New York is the winner of the $450 Pacific/Rim Prize for her play The Great Leap.

Ruth-Ellen Perlman of Honolulu, Hawai‘i is the winner of the $250 Resident Prize for Ecstasy.

Entrants are advised that all scripts submitted for this year's competition eventually become part of Kumu Kahua/UHM Theatre Department Competition Plays, a collection of manuscripts housed and bound in the Hawaiian & Pacific Collection, Hamilton Library on the campus of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. This collection, under various titles, goes back to the 1940's, and is a historical record of this competition and the plays entered for it.

Please read on for our 2020 contest rules and guidelines…

Kumu Kahua Theatre/UHM Theatre and Dance Department
Playwriting Contest

Deadline: Entries must have been postmarked or received electronically no later than wednesday, January 2, 2020

Kumu Kahua Theatre is a non-profit theatre company that has presented original productions of special relevance to the people of Hawai‘i since 1971.  

Each year Kumu Kahua Theatre co-sponsors a playwriting contest with the UHM Theatre Department in its effort to bring new and exciting drama to the stage.  Although Kumu Kahua Theatre has a strong commitment to producing the works of local playwrights in recent years they have produced several plays pertaining to Hawai‘i that have been written by non-Hawai‘i residents.  Kumu Kahua Theatre recognizes that many playwrights who have moved to the mainland, for example, may have valuable insights to offer about their local experiences.

The playwriting contest is offered in three separate categories.  One prize will be offered in each category.  All plays must be original and not involve adaptation form any copyrighted source.  They should not have received previous production in their current form.  Any number of scripts may be submitted by an individual, but a different pen name must accompany each play.  Plays previously submitted to the contest are not eligible.  Members of the board of Kumu Kahua Theatre will read all entries in the competition and consider each for workshops, which may lead to a production. Kumu Kahua Theatre is especially interested in plays pertinent to Hawai‘i.

For the Hawai‘i Prize ($600), which is open to residents and non-residents of Hawai‘i, the play must be set in Hawai‘i or deal with some aspect of the Hawai‘i experience.  Some examples of appropriate topics might be:  pre-colonial life in the islands; relation between indigenous and colonizer; the coming of whalers; missionaries and merchants; the history of ethnic immigration and adaptation to Hawai‘i; the development of enter-ethnic relationships; labor history; the territorial era; militarization; the move toward statehood; tourism and development; contemporary immigration and diaspora; women’s rights; the experiences of Hawai‘i’s people outside of Hawai‘i.  Restricted to full-length plays (minimum 50 pages of standard form).

For the Pacific/Rim Prize ($450), which is open to residents and non-residents of Hawai‘i, the play must be set in or deal with the Pacific Islands, the Pacific Rim, or the Pacific/Asian American experience.  Restricted to full-length plays (minimum 50 pages of standard form).

For the Resident Prize ($250), which is open to the residents of Hawai‘i at the time of submission, the plays may be on any topic, and of any length.

To submit a play:

1) You may email your script to or mail three copies.  Plays should be formatted/typed on ordinary bond paper, double-spaced, and on one side of the paper only.

2) Prepare a front page for the manuscript which bears the play title, pen name, and the division in which the play is being entered.  Do not place your name anywhere on the script.

3) In an ordinary envelope place a piece of paper with the following information clearly printed or typed (if you are emailing your script, this should be in the body of your email):

a) play title and pen name

b) playwright's real name

c) social security number

d) address and phone number

e) competition division

4) If you are sending via US Mail, seal the envelope and print or type the play title on the outside.

5) Place the playscript and the sealed envelope in a large envelope (or otherwise wrap them together) and mail to:

Kumu Kahua Playwriting Contest
Kumu Kahua Theatre
46 Merchant Street
Honolulu HI 96813

6) If you are emailing your script, put "2018 Playwriting Contest" in the subject line.

Submitted playscripts become part of Kumu Kahua Theatre/UHM Theatre Department Competition Plays, a collection of manuscripts housed and bound in the Hawaiian and Pacific collection of Hamilton Library at the University of Hawai‘i.  Kumu Kahua Theatre reserves first production rights for two years to all contest winners.  All other rights are retained by the playwright.  Three judges, whose decisions will be final, will be selected by Kumu Kahua Theatre to evaluate the plays.  If, in the opinion of the judges, the plays submitted do not show sufficient merit, one or more prizes may be withheld.  Results of the contest will be announced to the press.

All  contestants will be notified. Stay tuned for recent contest winners!

Any more questions? Contact us.