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News & Events

​Submissions Now Being Accepted for Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre

The Theatre School at DePaul University is pleased to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre. Playwrights from the Chicagoland area and alumni of The Theatre School are eligible to apply, and the winner will be announced in June. The deadline for submissions is May 5, 2023.

The Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre was established at The Theatre School to honor the memory of the Rev. Donald Cunningham, a Chicago priest, playwright, and lover of theatre. The Cunningham Commission was established by an endowment gift from the Cunningham family and is presented annually. The purpose of the commission is to encourage the writing of dramatic works for young audiences that affirm the centrality of religion, broadly defined, and the human quest for meaning, truth, and community. The Theatre School intends to produce the plays created through this commission in its award-winning Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series. 

Chicago Playworks is dedicated to reflecting our audience’s experience in an urban, contemporary, and multi-ethnic environment. Each season has three productions that are attended by over 30,000 young people and their families. Target audience age varies for each individual show, with a primary interest in serving grades four through seven. Past recipients have included Ike Holter, Isaac Gomez, Caro Macon, Gloria Bond Clunie, Ricardo Gamboa, Omer Abbas Salem, and Lavina Jadhwani. 

Candidates should submit:

  • a resume.
  • one sample of their playwriting work (no more than 20 pages). The writing sample maybe from a play of any genre for any audience.
  • a brief statement about their interest in the commission.
  • a paragraph-length description of a possible project.

The commission timeline is as follows:

  • June 2023: Winner announcement and contract signing.
  • December 1, 2023: First draft due (payment upon delivery).
  • January 15, 2024: Notes from Theatre School committee delivered to playwright.
  • April 1, 2024: Second draft due (payment upon delivery).
  • May 15, 2024: Notes from Theatre School committee delivered to playwright.
  • September 1, 2024: Third draft due (final payment upon delivery).

The play will then be considered for the following year’s Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series.

The fee for the Cunningham Commission is $6000, with an additional fee provided if the play is produced as part of the Chicago Playworks series. The selection committee is chaired by Michelle Lopéz-Rios, and is composed of members of the Cunningham Commission advisory committee and faculty of The Theatre School. Please send all entries to: