DARIEN — Until recently, neither Olivia Falkenrath nor Quinn Murphy had never ever written a play.

That, however, did not stop the two 16-year-olds from entering a playwriting contest and on Monday night, both fledgling authors will see their first attempts in the medium performed onstage by professional actors.

Falkenrath and Murphy won first and second place, respectively, in the Palace Theatre’s 2017 Ernie DiMattia Emerging Young Artists Scholarship Award. In addition to earning $1,000 and $500 in prize money, the Darien residents’ plays will be performed on Monday at the Stamford theater by a group of professional actors.

Although neither had a background in playwriting, each was very familiar with theater.

“One of my biggest passions when I was younger was theater,” said Falkenrath, a sophomore at Greenwich Academy. “Broadway stars were my idols and I knew when I saw them that I wanted to be just like them. I would know and sing almost every song from the soundtracks of my favorite musicals, to the displeasure of many of my friends and family.”

With her grandmother she’d often see Broadway shows and up until high school, when her sports schedule became hectic, Falkenrath often participated in community theater.

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See the plays

The staged readings of “New Beginnings,” “Siblings” and “Dilemma of the Single Chair” will take place at 7 p.m. on May 1 at the Palace Theatre in Stamford. The performance is free and open to the public. To make reservations, contact Lisa Colangelo at lcolangelo@palacestamford.org.

Murphy, a sophomore at Brunswick School, has also spent more time on the stage rather than sitting in the writer’s chair.

“I’m mainly an actor. I’ve been in a few school plays and a few student films,” he said.

Both young writers were informed of the scholarship opportunity by their acting teachers, who made the one-act play a class project.

Murphy’s play, “Siblings,” is about an older brother who returns home from a party to find his younger brother had over-imbibed and thrown up and the scheming to cover it up that ensues. It’s an embellishment on a real personal experience, Murphy said, and one he described as “mostly a comedy.” Because of the light handling of the material, Murphy said he was especially surprised that his work was received so positively.

“It’s just kind of a crazy relationship between two brothers trying to fix a problem that’s kind of not really expected to happen. The way they interact with each other kind of makes for this interesting dynamic,” Murphy explained.

In addition to Falkenrath and Murphy, Ryan Polistena, a senior at Bethel High School took home third place with his play, “Dilemma of the Single Chair.” The trio beat out a pool of more than 40 hopeful playwrights from throughout Fairfield County, according to Carol Bryan, director of education at the Palace Theatre.

“They each did a beautiful job writing and developing their characters throughout the play,” Bryan said. “Each play is very different, but they were very clear as to the dialogue they were writing and each of their stories had conflict. You can’t have a play without conflict.”

In developing the characters and conflicts in her play, “New Beginnings,” Falkenrath took a more serious, and less autobiographical, approach.”

Falkenrath centers her action around the protagonist, Alexis Williams, during move-in day of her freshman year of college, and chronicles the strained relationship between Alexis and three secondary characters: her mother, her somewhat estranged sister, and her boyfriend, with whom she has abusive relationship.

“I don’t have a sister and fortunately have never experienced abuse from a significant other,” Falkenrath said. “I chose to submit this play because I think it’s important for people to see unhealthy relationships in young people. Relationship violence is extremely prevalent in our society today and I wanted to show the difficulties of dealing with such problems through the arts.”

Though she acknowledged that she is not an expert on the topic of domestic violence, Falkenrath researched the topic extensively before attempting to write the play. She will be donating the entirety of her $1,000 prize to Futures Without Violence, a San Francisco-based nonprofit whose goal is to end domestic and sexual violence.

“I would not be able to enjoy the cash prize by taking it for myself and instead would like to use it for women who have experienced similar (if not worse) violence to the kind Alexis faces in the play,” Falkenrath explained.

Both writers said they were excited to see their work performed onstage. Their material will be in good hands, under the direction of Luis Selgado, a 20-year stage professional whose Broadway credits include “In the Heights” and “Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

After a successful first-go at writing a play, both Darien teenagers plan to stick with it.

Falkenrath said she looks forward to finding more playwriting competitions and submitting another original work to the same competition next year. Murphy, who also plans to write more in the future, feels he’s benefited twofold from the experience.

“I think acting helped me write the play and writing the play helped me to become a better actor,” Murphy said.

justin.papp@scni.com; @justinjpapp1