Premiere Stages award winners

Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has named Grace McGory, Christopher Grant and Becky Gibby as the winners of the Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards, a new playwriting initiative established in response to the challenges of COVID-19.

The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards offer unique opportunities to seniors in three categories: the High School Senior Endeavor Award, given toa rising senior who will be completing his/her/their junior year of high school in May or June of 2020, the College Senior Endeavor Award, given to a Kean University senior who graduated from Kean in May of 2020 and the NJ Senior Endeavor Award presented to a senior who is currently residing in a New Jersey residential community (Assisted Living or Independent Living).

Grace McGory, a rising senior at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, NJ, is the winner of the High School Senior Endeavor Award for her play Enter Benvolio.  

She is an active participant in PHHS’s theater program and the Gay-Straight Alliance. Grace has participated in multiple NaNoWriMos, and is a recent recipient of the Governor’s Award in Arts Education for her short story Heart to Hart.

Recent Kean University graduate Christopher Grant of Linden, NJ, is the winner of the College Senior Endeavor Award for his play Running with Scissors

Chris is enrolled in the Equity Membership Candidate Program and recently obtained a Bachelor of Arts Theatre degree at Kean University. 

His one act play A Weed in a Cold Dry Patch was presented at Kean.  Mr. Grant is an actor and writer who wishes to create more works of art to tell stories often left untold.

Becky Gibby, a resident of Lantern Hill Senior Living Community in Providence, NJ is the winner of the NJ Senior Endeavor Award for her play Corona Farewell.

Becky Gibby wrote her first play at the age of 12 entitled Jane and the Sunflower Fairies. Thus began a lifetime of creating dramatic works for various age groups. 

Her literary writings include a young adult historical novel, Forged in Philadelphia (Abbott Press) and a picture book I Walked My Dog Around the Pond (Mascot Books). A sequel, I Walk My Dog Around the Town (Mascot Books) is due for release Fall 2020.

Honorable Mentions went to Teva Alon from Bergen County Academics in Hackensack, Olivia Landolfi from Immaculate Heart Academy in the Township of Washington, Claire Munley from Red Bank Regional High School in Red Bank, and Lindsey Polevoy from Bergen County Academics in Hackensack in the High School category; Nicole Gable, Emily Niemeyer and Arly Rubens in the College category; and Donna Neithe from Canterbury Village in West Orange, NJ in the Senior category.

All three winners will receive $1000 and a virtual developmental reading with a professional cast, director and dramaturg. The Senior Endeavor Award readings will be presented this Fall- a date will be announced at a later time.

Additionally, the high school winner receives a letter of recommendation to support Fall college applications, the college winner is offered a paid six-month Literary Internship at Premiere Stages, and a Premiere Stages Legacy Residency will be provided to the community where the winning Senior writer lives.

Honorable Mention playwrights will receive an honorable mention certificate and an honorarium of $100 each.

The project has been sponsored through a sustained funding gift from longtime Premiere Stages donors W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher.

All accepted entries were one-act plays inspired by or in response to the challenges of COVID-19. Their content could directly relate to issues surrounding the virus or could be more abstractly related. 

Plays could be autobiographical or can be completely fictional; an application form asked two simple questions about the author’s experiences. Submissions were limited to writers in one of the above categories who reside in New Jersey.

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities.

All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Please call 908-737-4077 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances.

For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at

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