May 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Can You Write Like Shakespeare?

Fancy yourself the next Bard of Avon? Well then, here's your chance: The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) in Staunton, Virginia, announced last month an international playwriting competition called "Shakespeare's New Contemporaries." The contest seeks to inspire dramatists to "compose original works that serve as partner plays to Shakespeare's classics." ASC hopes to find 38 winning plays--each serving as a modern companion to one of Will's original 38--and to produce them over the next 20 years.

565px-Title_page_William_Shakespeare's_First_Folio_1623.jpg"There aren't many plays out there that vibe off Shakespeare," said Jim Warren, artistic director of the American Shakespeare Center. "We're not looking for a retelling of Shakespeare plays. We're looking for partner plays that are inspired by Shakespeare, plays that might be sequels or prequels to Shakespeare's stories, plays that might tell the stories of minor characters in Shakespeare's stories, plays that might dramatize Shakespeare's company creating the first production of a title, plays that might include modern characters interacting with Shakespeare's characters, plays that will be even more remarkable when staged in rotating repertory with their Shakespeare counterpart and actors playing the same characters who might appear in both plays, plays that not only will appeal to other Shakespeare theatres, but also to all types of theatres and audiences around the world."

During the first year of the competition, contestants can choose to remix one of these four Shakespearean scripts: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV, Part 1, The Comedy of Errors, or The Winter's Tale. Two annual prizes of $25,000 will be awarded.

Aspirants have until February 15, 2018 to "call for pen and ink, and write [their] mind." More details are available here.

Image: Shakespeare's portrait by Martin Droeshout, frontispiece of the First Folio. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University [2], Public Domain, via Wikimedia.