Here are the winners of IRT’s statewide playwriting competition


The Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) named Mei Kihara and Lucille Ansell winners of the 2024 Young Playwrights in Process (YPIP).

The annual playwriting competition, which was created in 2005 through the Margot L. and Robert S. Eccles Trust, is for Indiana students, grades 6-12. The YPIP program aims to encourage middle and high school students across the state to dip their hand in playwriting and produce works that reflect and challenge the world they live in. Kihara and Ansell, who won the middle school and high school divisions, respectively, were chosen out of 120 submissions across the state. 

Each submission was reviewed by a committee of theater and writing professionals over five months. Out of the submissions, 25 semi-finalists were chosen and invited to attend a voluntary day-long workshop with IRT’s Playwright in Residence James Still and Resident Dramaturg Richard J. Roberts.

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After completing the workshop, each of the semi-finalists submitted their work, then Still, Roberts and guest advisor Arora Real de Asua selected six finalists — Ella Haynes, Leon Xiang, Lucille Ansell, Nandini Kondhare, Ronit Mengele and Mei Kihara. From there, Kihara and Ansell were selected as winners.

The final celebration was held virtually March 9 and recognized the work of each young playwright. Kihara’s and Ansell’s plays received stage readings by professional actors, and the remaining four finalists had portions of their plays read.

Kihara, from West Lafayette High School in West Lafayette, won the middle school division with “To Form a Pearl.” Ansell, from the School for Community Learning in Indianapolis, won the high school division with “The Concept: Because What is Gender Really?” As winners of the competition, Kihara and Ansell received a $1,000 cash prize for their plays and the remaining four finalists received $250 cash prize.

Applications for the 2025 YPIP competition open in fall 2024. For more information about the contest, application process and requirements, visit or contact Education Coordinator Anna Barnett at or 317.916.4841.