Playwrights vie for $500 prize in The Theater Project’s short play fest on Zoom

Eight playwrights/finalists are featured in the Think Fast one-act play competition.

UNION, NJ — This spring, The Theater Project is offering an opportunity for playwrights, directors, actors and audiences from all over the country to experience and participate in live theater from home. In the Think Fast competition, now in its ninth year, playwrights vie for a $500 Judges Prize, and audience members have the chance to vote for their favorite pieces.

Think Fast takes place Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 6. This year’s selected short plays will be prerecorded and broadcast on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include a link to a live, post-broadcast Zoom meet-and-greet after each performance. The prizes, including commendations for best actor, actress, and director, are announced at the virtual cocktail party following the Sunday matinee.

This year’s finalists are Jenny Lyn Bader of New York City; Kevin Brofsky of New York City; Alli Hartley-Kong of Arlington, Va.; Susan Masters of Panama, N.Y.; Colleen O’Doherty of Omaha, Neb.; Marc Paykuss of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Larry Rinkel of Bay Shore, N.Y.; and Jack Rushton of Newbury, Ma.

But only one play and playwright will be singled out for the $500 Judges’ Pick award. “It’s never an easy decision,” says Artistic Director Mark Spina, “and we like to remind everyone who participates that a competition is just an excuse to bring talented people together.”

The event is part of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival, the state’s largest annual theater festival, which provides free and discounted theater events for audiences of all ages throughout the months of March, April, and May. A full calendar of events is available at

“The alliance is grateful that The Theater Project is participating in the Stages Festival,” said John McEwen, executive director of the alliance. “For more than 20 years, the Stages Festival has provided theatrical experiences for thousands of residents across New Jersey. These efforts would not be possible without the wonderful help of partners such as The Theater Project.”

The Theater Project was one of just 22 organizations in New Jersey receiving National Endowment for the Arts grants in 2021. The company’s virtual production of “Dracula” was named Best Streaming Performance in Broadway World’s 2021 Regional Awards, with cast members Kevin Sebastian and Anna Marie Sell winning Best Performer and Best Supporting Performer in a Streaming Play awards. To learn more, visit

Photo Courtesy of The Theater Project