Local student’s script to be performed at ‘Plays by Young Writers’ festival

Although he’s still in high school, local playwright Matthew Maceda’s script will soon go from paper to the stage.

The Torrey Highlands teen’s “Coffee, Cream and Closure” will debut late January during Playwrights Project’s 30th annual Plays by Young Writers festival, which features winning scripts from its California Young Playwrights Contest.

“This is a really great opportunity,” said Matthew, a sophomore at Westview High School. “It’s a very collaborative process.”

Playwrights Project received 581 contest submissions from students across the state — up from last year’s 165 submissions. Four scripts will receive full professional productions, and four scripts will receive staged readings. All contest participants who requested feedback received individualized written critiques.

Inspired by the reality television series “Long Island Medium,” Matthew wrote “Coffee, Cream and Closure” when he was 15. The roughly 30-minute play follows a young businesswoman who reconnects with her deceased father through the help of a medium she meets at a coffee shop.

“Mathew’s play came to the top,” said Cecelia Kouma, executive director of Playwrights Project. “The main character is someone who is on a journey with something very meaningful to accomplish.”

Now 16, this is Matthew’s first year competing in the older division of the contest, after winning staged readings three consecutive years in the younger division. Matthew was in seventh grade when Playwrights Project selected his first, “From Underdog to Top Rhino.”

“I am really excited, especially since this is a full production,” Matthew said. “It’s something I’ve never experienced.”

Founded in 1985, Playwrights Project reaches as many as 10,000 people each year through its classroom programs and annual contest. With a mission to advance literacy, creativity and communication, the nonprofit organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary working with individuals to voice their stories through playwriting programs and theater productions.

“Playwrights Project is recognized within the education community,” Kouma said. “Teachers really embrace the program and see the benefits of bringing it to their classroom. As far the festival component, not only do the teachers encourage their students to submit, but it also has a reputation across the state. Also, the artists who are helping realize these plays are all professionals and love this work. All of those combined really contribute to why it’s succeeded this long.”

The festival will take place Jan. 22 through Feb. 1 at The Sheryl and Harvey White Stage in the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at The Old Globe in Balboa Park.

“I have seen, personally, all the hard work that has gone in from everybody,” Matthew said. “I would appreciate it if people would come out and see it. It’s just truly magical.”

General admission tickets cost $25. Discounted tickets for seniors, students and military cost $20. Opening night and reception tickets cost $60.

To purchase tickets, call 858-384-2970 or email

For more information about Playwrights Project, visit