Seeking Young Local Actors for NSAL Drama Competition

National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) of Florida, based in Boca Raton, is seeking young actors to apply for the drama competition.  Every year, the national NSAL organization selects one discipline as the key competition. In 2023, drama will take centerstage, and the local winner will advance to compete in Kentucky for a $15,000 top prize. For applications and deadlines please visit

“NSAL of Florida members fundraise year-round to provide these opportunities for young, Florida artists,” said Dr. N’Quavah R. Velazquez, President. “These competitions and scholarships offer critical funding, performance experience, and long-term mentorship. We look forward to working with this next group of talented emerging stars and watching their careers ascend.”

The Drama competition is in the national spotlight in 2023, with a top prize of $15,000. Actors between the ages of 18-29 are invited to apply for the Florida competition scheduled for Saturday, March 18, 2023 at Amarnick-Goldstein Hall at Lynn University in Boca Raton, The top prize winner will receive $2,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Nationals from May 18-20, 2023 in Lexington, Kentucky.

 “We are honored that our local drama competition will be judged by such an esteemed panel of theatre luminaries including Gail Garrisan, Keith Garsson, Barbara Bradshaw and Karen Stephens,” said Shari Upbin, co-chair of the drama competition, and well-known theatre director/producer.

These outstanding professionals have garnered the respect of the theater community and have decades of triumphant performances on their resumes.

“The young drama students who will be participating in this year’s competition are so fortunate to have this incredible panel serve as judges,” said Marcie Gorman, co-chair of the drama competition and founder of MNM Theatre Company. “The insights and wisdom the students will gain from these extraordinary professionals is truly a priceless experience.”

About the Drama Competition Judges:

 Gail S. Garrisan is a professional director, acting teacher and writer.  She was the founding Artistic Director of City Theatre and currently serves as the Director of Special Projects, as well as a member of the Board of Directors.  Ms. Garrisan has directed productions at numerous venues throughout South Florida, as well as regionally.  In addition to directing, she is a Teaching Artist at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (Adult Acting).  She was an Assistant Professor at New World School of the Arts for seven years, teaching acting and directing and served as the Interim Dean of the Theater Department.

Keith Garsson formed Boca Stage in 2014 in order to offer more alternative fare to sophisticated theater goers starting with the first post-Broadway production of David Mamet’s The Anarchist (Silver Palm Winner) and followed by directing Sunset Baby (Silver Palm Winner) and Lanford Wilson’s Redwood Curtain. Currently, Boca Stage is presenting another critically acclaimed season, featuring all-star casts in productions you will not see anywhere else! Since its inception, Boca Stage has garnered numerous awards. Garsson’s production of Sex with Strangers won the New Times Best Play of 2016 followed by the New Times Best Actress award for his subsequent production of The Devil’s Music both directed by Genie Croft. His other directing ventures include the Silver Palm Winner Reborning and the premiere of Smoke. As an avid jazz pianist, Garsson has performed in cabarets in New York City.

 Barbara Bradshaw performed in theatres across the country.  In Florida, Barbara has frequently appeared on the stages of the original Coconut Grove Playhouse, Caldwell Theatre, Actor’s Playhouse, GableStage, Florida Studio Theatre, Florida Rep, Seaside Music Theatre, Mosaic Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, The Zoetic Stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center, and The Maltz Jupiter Theatre.   She has also appeared at Geva Theatre in NY, The Alliance in Atlanta, Capital Rep in Albany, NY, Flat Rock Playhouse in NC, among others.   She has been honored with 17 Carbonell nominations and 4 wins, The Silver Palm Award, The Bill Hindman Award, and the Florida Professional Theatre Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

 Karen Stephens is a veteran of South Florida Theatre, has had the good fortune to walk the boards of many of South Florida’s professional theatres. Karen’s most recent appearances include the world premiere of Dorothy’s Dictionary at FAU’s Theatre Lab, Time Alone at Boca Stage, Matilda (Carbonell nomination) at Slow Burn Theatre, and Armature at Island City Stage. Karen is a multiple Carbonell nominee and was awarded the Best Actress award for Zoetic Stage’s Fear Up Harsh. She is also a four-time recipient of the Silver Palm Award, a Curtain Up Award and the Palm Beach Cultural Council’s Randolph A. Frank Prize. As a director, Karen has helmed a production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Lake Worth Playhouse, Polaroid Stories and a staged reading of Sweat at FAU Theatre Department.

About NSAL:

NSAL aims to discover talented young people at the beginning of their careers and provides scholarships and competitions in art, dance, drama, literature, music and musical theatre, and works to advance their careers and creative opportunities. Excelling at the chapter level allows competitors to progress to national competitions and many stars have been discovered. Among these are Shirley MacLaine, actress/dancer/writer; Jessye Norman, opera singer; Megan Hilty, Broadway and television star; Awadagin Pratt, pianist; and Amanda McKerrow, prima ballerina, and opera star Nadine Sierra who was discovered through the Florida Chapter.

For more information about NSAL scholarships, competitions and how to become a supporter, please visit

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