The Palm Springs Young Playwrights Festival (PSYPF), which promotes and encourages creative writing – in the theatrical form – open to all elementary, middle and high school students within Riverside County, has announced the Festival’s 2021 winners. The plays submitted were reviewed by a selection committee and winners were chosen. Each winner will receive a mentorship to enhance their play, a free to the public staged reading by professional actors in June 2022, and a $500 scholarship to help further their career in the arts.

The 2021 winners are:

  • Yamani Scoggins (17) “Gotcha”
    • Valley View High School,Moreno Valley Unified School District
  • Jadelynn Okialda-Simmons (13) “Brotherly Love”
    • Hans Christensen Middle School, Menifee Union School District
  • Cal Vaughn (17) “Trapped” 
    • Palm Springs High School, Palm Springs Unified School District

The 2020 winners of the festival had the honor of getting their plays performed in staged readings this past June by seasoned professional actors at The Palm Springs Cultural Center. The festival can be seen online, free of charge, at 

The 2020 winners were: 

  • Jacob Stockwell (19), a graduate from Beaumont  High School, who wrote a play called “Anthony.”
  • Xuan-Anh Ly Biggs (16), who attends Riverside Polytechnic High School wrote “The Homeless Rich Woman and The Playwright.”
  • Ava Hemstreet (18), now an alum of Palm Springs High School, wrote “Break.”
  • Cal Vaughn (17) attends Palm Springs High School and wrote “Dear Eddie.”

“This past year was challenging for the participants because the pandemic forced everyone to work remotely,” said David Youse, Executive Director of the Festival. “Despite the unique challenges, all of the entrants did an amazing job, and it was difficult selecting the top four finalists. We were able to do staged readings of the selected plays but chose to follow safety protocols and did not make these readings open to the public. Next year we plan to make this free event open to everyone.”

Recently PSYPF partnered with The Riverside County Office of Education to expand its outreach to young playwrights to include not just the Coachella Valley, but all of Riverside County. The Festival works closely with Louisa Higgins, Visual and Performing Arts Administrator for Riverside County Office of Education, Chuck Yates, Founding Artistic Director of Coyote StageWorks, the Coyote StageWorks Board of Directors, the Palm Springs Cultural Center, and PSYPF board members Marni Raab and Margarida De Brito.

“I want to give this opportunity to young playwrights, within my community, to bring their stories to life,” said Youse, “I always felt that opportunities were given for the young actor, singer or dancer, and felt the need to nurture our new storytellers in the theatre.  I want to hear what our youth are thinking, feeling and need to express.  My first love is the theatre and I wanted to give back that joy to these young playwrights.”

PSYPF is funded by The Western Wind Foundation with Jeremy Hobbs, Tim Gleason, Christine Evans and Fielding Snow, Deborah Harmon, Paul Reid and Thomas Hartnett, Mel and Dorothy Lefkowitz, Ann Sheffer and Bill Sheffler, and Jason Smith and Tom Valach.