IATC Playwriting Competition –  2019 and Beyond

The IATC is reviewing the scope and structure of the next playwriting competition. Our cup truly ran over with submissions for the first round. We are still presenting the winners from 2018. Playwrights, stay tuned as we reconfigure contest rules and format. We hope to announce the next competition before the end of the year.  

Evaluation Questions for Playwrights

When evaluating the merits of a submission, judges will consider how well the work addresses the following questions:

Does the play clearly deal with one or more aspects of the Italian American experience, past or present? Does it treat the subject with honesty in an original and compelling way? Does it avoid stereotype and generalization?

Does the play contribute to the larger conversation about immigration and its impact on individuals, families and society? Whether set in the present or the past, does it raise questions or inspire ideas that contemporary Italian Americans may be uniquely suited to address for the common good?

Is the play well written? Whether comedy, tragedy or history, does it demonstrate an understanding of the basic elements of drama: well-developed characters; a conflict-driven plot; lively dialogue; an engaging setting; and an underlying theme that raises important questions?

Does the playwright have a strong voice and a clear point of view? Can a contemporary audience relate to both? 

Does the play have the potential to touch and change an audience in a positive, life-enhancing way? Will theatregoers come away with deeper understanding or fresh insight or a new perspective or a change of heart?

Does the play conform to submission instructions, and is it accompanied by all requested supporting material?

Can the play be produced with a modest set, a reasonable number of characters (12 or fewer), and reasonable technical demands? (Playwrights, keep in mind that the IATC does not yet have Broadway resources!)


Defining the Italian-American Experience

Tutto è destino.”

The Italian American experience is different for every Italian American. Many factors contribute to this diversity: time of immigration, region of origin, employment, education, family and personality. Even within families, the experience differs — between men and women and across the generations. The hand of destiny has many helpers.

Consequently, the Italian American experience cannot be reduced to a few clichés and caricatures, as has too often been the case in the popular culture.

Its variety and complexity are what make it a rich source of character and story. At its best, the Italian American experience embodies the classic hero’s journey; and like all heroes’ journeys, it is a voyage of self-discovery and transformation.

With that in mind, the following subjects and themes offer a starting point for writers interested in exploring the Italian American experience dramatically. They are meant to suggest and inspire, not prescribe or limit in any way:


A Selection of Italian American Themes and Subjects

  1. The role of family as the first and foremost relationship and responsibility– a concept often in conflict with mainstream American values of individualism and self-sufficiency.
  2. The role of Catholicism as a shared religion and cultural touchstone, but also as an affiliation setting Italians apart from the prevailing Protestant establishment.
  3. Achievements in Business, Commerce, Politics, Law, Academia and Sports often acquired against the odds and despite prejudice exacerbated by the widespread association of Italian-Americans with the criminal underworld.
  4. Prominence in the Arts and Sciences as an ongoing affirmation of Italy’s rich tradition of humanism that offers compelling Italian-American success stories in fields as diverse as cinema and nuclear physics, music and medicine, architecture and fashion design.
  5. The Importance of Food as a source of sustenance, physical and emotional; as a measure of success, as a means of self-expression (especially for women), and as an industry that has evolved from pizza carts to five star restaurants.