Film alum Scarlett Finney selected as a winner of the Negro Ensemble Company’s 2022 Emerging Playwrights Competition

Film & Electronic Arts Department alum Scarlett Finney’s play The Dream Chest made its debut on May 12th 2022 at the Urban Stages Theater in New York City. Scarlett’s play was one of four selected to be staged in May 2022 as part of the NEC’s Emerging Playwrights Competition.

The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) is respected worldwide for its commitment to excellence and has won dozens of honors and awards. This organization founded in 1967, remains a constant source and sustenance for black actors, directors, and writers as they have worked to break down walls of racial prejudice.

Hear more about “The Dream Chest” by watching Scarlett’s interview with NEC or by reading the press release below.


Press Release, April 11, 2022

Local Writer Wins Off-Broadway Production

LONG BEACH, CA — Local Long Beach resident, Scarlett Finney, has written a play entitled “The Dream Chest” which has been selected as a winner of the Negro Ensemble Company’s Emerging Playwrights Competition, 2022. “The Dream Chest” will be produced by the NEC for four performances May 12th through May 15th at the Urban Stages Theater located at 259 West 30th Street in New York.

The play is set in 1953 in St. Louis, Missouri and tells the story of a Black matriarch’s efforts to purchase a home of her own until her only son’s troubles with the law forces her to choose between saving him from jail or buying the house.

This is Finney’s first play which she began writing in 1993 as a tribute to her deceased grandparents and their friends that she knew while growing up in St. Louis. All the characters are based on real people, now deceased, and even some of the anecdotes are fact-based while the story itself is fictional.

The play made its rounds among several playwriting competitions and was selected as one of the top five plays for consideration in Long Beach Playhouse’s New Works Competition, 2021 as well as being invited by the Playhouse to participate in their Collaboration Series.

In 2019, Finney and her husband, Robert, self-produced two Staged Readings of the play, directed by Ann V. Wellman, and held at Charles Tentindo’s Aurora Theater in Long Beach where it received enthusiastic responses.

Finney has written more than a few television and film scripts, is a published poet, and has self-published several books including her husband’s memoir, an art book of original works by her award-winning mother, and a book of poetry by her, her sister, and their grandfather that were written during the 1930s and 1940s.

Finney is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach in the Radio/Television/Film Department where she met and later married the program’s longtime Chair, Dr. Robert Finney. The couple are now retired and still residing in Long Beach.

The NEC was officially formed in 1967 by playwright Douglas Turner Ward, producer/actor Robert Hooks, and theater manager Gerald Krone to make dreams of black theatrical talent a reality. Its first production to move to Broadway was “The River Niger” by Joe Walker where it won a Tony for Best Play. In 1981, it produced its most successful production, “A Soldier’s Play” by Charles Fuller that also moved to Broadway and was made into a motion picture called “A Soldier’s Story.” NEC alum actors include Louis Gossett, Jr., Sherman Hemsley, and Phylicia Rashad.

The NEC’s Emerging Playwrights Competition is led by Karen Brown as Artistic Director/Executive Producer and Cynthia Kitt as Associate Producer. For more information, visit NEC’s website.