The Writers Theatre of New Jersey named Chatham High School junior Cristina Lopez the recipient of a Governor’s Award for Playwriting based on her submission to the New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest and Festival.

Lopez's play is called Uncovering Moonshine; it's set in Chicago during Prohibition and features two main characters: William, a newly enlisted police officer, and Ava, whose parents run an underground speakeasy - unbeknownst to her.

As William and Ava both seek out information about Ava’s parents - and grow closer in the course of their quest - the play poses and explores questions of loyalty and deception: Is it more important to maintain a sense of loyalty to one’s friends and family or to uphold the law? Is it ever acceptable to deceive a loved one in the service of a perceived greater good?

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Lopez wrote the play in CHS teacher Laura Russo’s Creative Writing class, and submitted it for consideration in the festival.

“I was definitely taken by surprise – when I first submitted it, I never expected Uncovering Moonshine to make it this far, but at the same time, I feel very honored and humbled by the recognition, and I'm really happy that people liked the play," Lopez said. 

"I also feel extremely grateful for all of the constructive criticism that the selection committee gave me. Their feedback was invaluable in pointing out the play’s weak points, and it really helped me to figure out what to revise in order to make it better.”

Lopez's play will be performed at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 21.