University of South Florida

School of Theatre & Dance

College of the Arts

Lily Dishman Playwriting Program

Emerging Student Playwrights – Staged Readings

Free and open to the public.

Performances are the last Monday of each semester in TAR 120.  Please see our Current Season page for more information.

Program Overview

Committed to challenging and inspiring our students, in Fall 2014 the School of Theatre & Dance launched the Lily Dishman Playwriting Program. The program advances the scope and depth of the USF Theatre Program by providing focused study and professional opportunities in playwriting.

Comprising two courses per year in playwriting, students acquire the techniques and develop their own plays. The emerging playwrights rehearse and perform their original pieces in staged readings free and open to the community. The program also provides funding to send selected students to the American College Theatre Festival to participate in playwriting workshops and competitions. Students experience meaningful networking opportunities and academic enrichment that prepare them for successful careers.

A year after the program first started, students in the USF Writing for the Theatre course had an impressive showing at the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region IV one-act play competition. Out of 33 entries in the one-act play contest, four of the six finalists chosen to have their work presented at the festival as staged readings were from USF. Of these, one USF playwright was selected to represent Region IV in the national competition. Furthermore, another TheatreUSF student’s work was selected as one of six finalists out of 123 entries for the ten-minute play category.

The Lily Dishman Playwriting Program was made possible by a $105,000 gift from the Lily Foundation through Jane McNeil, in honor of her mother for whom the program is named. Lily Dishman Bangert was passionate about supporting local artists and about developing her career in real estate. As an adult student she returned to college to pursue her own interest in playwriting. She accomplished a goal of copyrighting her first stage play before she died.

“The Lily Dishman Playwriting Program will stand for more than financial relief,” said Jane McNeil. “It will stand for one of achievement, one of promise, and one of unstoppable potential, just as my Mother would have wanted. She firmly believed in supporting undiscovered talent, and would be thrilled to know she is still helping to make those discoveries happen today.”