Stage East has announced that winner of the inaugural Jay Skriletz Playwriting Initiative is Wilder Fray Short, a Bowdoin student, and his script, In the 45th. Short will visit Eastport for a week-long workshop with Stage East; his play will be presented for the public as a staged reading on May 6 and 7 at 7 pm, on the Eastport Arts Center stage. The young writer will also receive a $1,000 prize. The staged readings will be presented by suggested donation of $15; proceeds will go towards the fund for future prizes.

“It is a phenomenal opportunity to be the first ever recipient of the Jay Skriletz Playwriting Initiative Prize,” wrote Short. “I am beyond grateful for the Skriletz family’s generosity, and honored to be a part of a long legacy of remarkably personal work at Stage East. In the 45th is a a play about pain, reminiscing, and forgiveness, and one that I am grateful to share with Stage East for further development!”

Wilder Fray Short,
winner of the inaugural Jay Skriletz Playwriting Initiative

Short is a writer, actor, and European football enthusiast. Born in Los Angeles, he was raised on the simple principles of having fun, taking initiative whenever possible, and tackling each day with a smile and laugh in hand. He engrossed himself in the theater world while at Bowdoin College, where he is currently finishing up his degree in Theater and Government and Legal Studies. When not writing or learning how to hold a note, Wilder loves to throw himself into the abyss that is supporting Manchester United, reading about new post-punk groups, and going to the local cinema with friends.

“I am so excited that we get to do new play development at Stage East,” enthused Artistic Director Mark Macey. “Providing this opportunity and funding to a young Mainer through the Skriletz Prize is the most exciting part of my job. This is our first year, but I hope it will be far from our last. Help us continue to reward passionate, talented artists by coming to hear Wilder’s play this Friday and Saturday. All funds go directly to running this program in the future. Here’s to supporting emerging artists in Maine!”

Stage East created the Playwriting Initiative in honor of Jay Skriletz, who passed away in January 2021. Skriletz spent over 50 years passionately involved in the theater. His employment took him from Seattle to Eastport including a position as technical director at Penobscot Theater. With a Mater of Arts in Theater, he was a force in all aspects and genres including Shakespeare, farce, musicals, tragedy, drama and outright comedy. He directed, produced, designed, constructed, acted and sang in show after show. As founding director of Stage East, he elevated the quality of every production he undertook and never let difficulties or challenges become an obstacle to success.

Jay Skriletz

Jay was also a prolific playwright, completing 16 plays, 3 of which were performed locally. His plays reflected his belief that live theater could serve as a vehicle for discourse about important social and political issues. He lived his life in the same manner as a soldier for advocacy and community. He especially enjoyed fostering similar interests and passions in young people. The Jay Skriletz Playwriting Initiative creates a legacy for Jays’ contribution to community theater and the arts. More information about the Initiative may be found here.

Stage East, a constituent of Eastport Arts Center, may be found at