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The University of Arkansas Department of Theatre administers the Kernodle New Play Award, a national playwriting competition named for George R. Kernodle, beloved U of A theatre professor and author of "Invitation to the Theatre". The award recognizes full-length plays that invite the audience’s imagination and are inherently theatrical. 

Carlos M.The Department of Theatre is pleased to announce that Carlos Murillo’s play, The Killing of a Gentleman Defender, is the winner of the 2018 Kernodle Award. Thank you for all who applied. 
Read full press release.

The Award is given annually with submissions typically beginning accepted in late Fall. For submission guidelines, please see below.

Annually, there is a single prize of $500 given to the winner. One or two “special commendations” may also be awarded.

Winning plays and finalists will be considered for public readings by the University of Arkansas Department of Theatre and/or for inclusion in the Arkansas New Play Festival, produced in Fayetteville by TheatreSquared.   

Announcement of Awards:  April/May 2019

Our reading committee is largely comprised of current MFA theatre students, alums, and U of A faculty. With respect to the graduate students workload during any given cycle and coupled with our desire to keep accepting unsolicited manuscripts without a reader’s fee, we have decided to limit the amount of unsolicited manuscripts we can accept to the first 100.

Please see submission guidelines below and thank you for your understanding.

 Please Note: We are in the process of reviewing our submission criteria, and exploring how best to manage and distribute submissions to our readers. The below is subject to adjustments, but please use this as a general guideline. We will update by early fall 2018 if there are any adjustments.


Eligibility: All playwrights must fill out the online form, which will be available on our website during our submission window, November 1 through December 16, 2018. Plays submitted before November 1, 2018 will not be considered. Additionally, please understand, due to staffing levels (and a desire to keep unsolicited submissions free), we can only accept the first 100 unsolicited submissions received in 2018-2019. We will post on our website when we have hit our limit. After that time, unsolicited manuscripts will not be accepted, and we will only accept additional submissions by invitation.

Playwrights whose work has been directly solicited, and playwrights who currently reside in, or are originally from, Arkansas are welcome to apply until the Dec. 16, 2018 deadline. 

For all submissions, please follow the process below, and when filling out our online form, please indicate in the “message” field, either who solicited your work or your ties to Arkansas.

Submission Materials:

  • Complete the Online Submission Form (available on November 1, 2018).
  • 10 page sample from the script you are submitting
  • A brief synopsis and history of the script
  • Author Bio
  • Full-length manuscript (70+ minutes)
  • Please combine all documents in a single PDF or Word file, and email submissions to We can no longer accept mailed manuscripts.
  • Plays submitted in previous years will be not be accepted.
  • Plays must be unpublished and cannot have been professionally produced (previous workshop OK). No plays for young audiences, or musicals please. Adaptations considered only if rights are clearly secured or source material is in public domain.
  • One submission per writer
  • Please allow 3-6 months response.

Submission Fee:  None.

Emailed submissions must arrive between November 1 and December 16, 2018.

Announcement of Awards:  
April/May 2019

Current and Past Winners

The Kernodle Award was established in 1986 in honor of faculty member George R. Kernodle (1907-1988)—U of A theatre professor, director, translator, and author of several scholarly works on theatre.  Meet our current Kernodle Award Winner and explore the archive of past years winners. 

 Winner: Carlos Murillo - Killing of a Gentleman Defender

Killing of A Gentleman is a funny, provocative, ambitious drama that artfully connects—through the magic of theatre and soccer—the underserved communities and kids of current day Chicago with the cartel-riddled neighborhoods of Columbia in the early nineties. The play energetically examines the real-life consequences of structural racism and finding yourself stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether that be on the soccer field, or in a South-Side neighborhood in Chicago.

Read the full Press Release.

Special Citation: 
EllaRose Chary - The Lake and The Mill  

Winner: Barbara Hammond -Visible From Four States

A lyrical drama that elegantly contemplates the intersection of commerce and faith. The play weaves together the plights of a struggling town that fights to stay on the map in contemporary America, while the residents confront their feelings about the death penalty as the prison up the road approaches its first execution in years.

Read the full Press Release

Special Citation: 
Mia McCullough - Wisdom From Everything  

Winner: Deborah Yarchun - Tectonic Mélange

When Tara, a petroleum geologist, surveys for minerals in a small town in North Dakota, she uncovers more than she expected- including deep community tensions and a darker side of herself.

Past Winners:

*Please contact us with information or corrections on the above listing.


If you have any questions, please contact us at or (479) 575-2953.