A Brigham Young University theater graduate who wants to encourage women to become playwrights has established the William P. and Arlene R. Lewis Playwriting Contest for Women.

Susan Lewis, a BYU student in the 1980s and now living in Illinois, is offering the first of what is intended to be an annual stipend. The contest is designed as a way to foster new plays, and the prize money for the first year is $500. While attending BYU, Lewis had several of her own scripts mounted as plays.The competition is open to all female playwrights enrolled at or associated with institutions of higher learning. Invitations have been sent to BYU, University of Utah, Southern Utah University, Weber State University, Dixie College and Utah State University in Utah, and Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho.

The plays must be wholly original, full length, unpublished and not professionally produced. They must also be free of royalty and copyright restrictions. Musicals and collaborations are also eligible.

A panel of BYU professors will judge the entries.

In connection with the competition, a forum with a keynote speaker is planned in the spring when the winner will be announced, according to Tim Slover, contest coordinator and a member of the BYU theater faculty. Susan Howe, a member of the English department and author of the play "Burdens of Earth," will speak.

"Susan and her husband are just getting started professionally, not usually at the stage that we get our endowments," says Harold Oaks, chair of the theater and film department. "Yet Susan, concerned about leaving something at the university, thought that supporting women in writing would be a way to do that."

Oaks says Lewis' most noteworthy play as a student was "Storm," based on a climbing expedition on Mount McKinley. He says it "demonstrated her ability to handle character and dialogue."

Plays will be accepted beginning with a postmark of Jan. 1. Deadline for entries is a postmark of Feb. 1. The winner or winners will be announced no later than March 15.

Entries must be typed in proper format and bound. Loose pages or pages stapled in one corner are not acceptable. Only entries that include a self-addressed, stamped envelope will be returned.

Those interested should send two copies of the play to the William P. and Arlene R. Lewis Playwriting Contest for Women, Department of Theater and Film, D-581 HFAC, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.