You know I don’t get why playwriting festivals ask for blind submissions when they don’t accept braille as a submission format.
Bad joke? Yes. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few thoughts about festivals and their submission requirements.
But before I get to those here is the list of the playwriting festivals and opportunities I have included in this week’s blog:
- Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum: Botanicum Seedlings – A Development Series for Playwrights
- Tree City Playhouse: 10-Minute Play Competition
- Sanguine Theatre Company: Project Playwright Festival
- id Theater: Seven Devils Playwrights Conference
- Ruby Slippers Theatre, the Vancouver Fringe Festival and Equity in Theatre present: Advance Theatre: New Works by Diverse Women
Further details and links to each festival can be found by scrolling down. In the meantime here are some of my thoughts about entry fees and having to submit never produced work.
Now, I know some playwrights believe that there shouldn’t be any submission fees for playwriting contests. But I don’t really have a problem with entry fees. It seems to me that almost any kind of festival or competition requires an entry fee. When I entered commercials that I had produced into television festivals I had to pay an entry fee in order to compete. Most photography contests I’ve looked at have had entry fees and so do film festivals. Why there’s even an entry fee for the 2016 Port Elgin Pumpkin Fest Giant Vegetable Weigh-Off Competition! If you want to compete you have to pay: thirty bucks. Don’t believe me? You can check out the rules for yourself: Rules Giant Vegetable Weigh-off Competition
Now, I believe any festival that wants to charge a fee can. They are free to do so – just as I am free not to enter and by doing so not pay the entry fee. It’s a free world, right? Except when it comes to entry fees. Then it’s not as free, I suppose. Which means it’s sort-of-a-free world, I guess. There are degrees of freedom, I suppose. Is anyone ever really free? Are we all haunted by our past? I suppose that depends on what we’ve done in our past. Anyway, enough about entry fees let’s talk about the requirement that plays must be world premieres.
Never Produced Submissions
Now if a festival wants to make it a requirement that the work must be original and never produced that is their right and they are free to do so but sometimes I feel like some festivals have just copied and pasted the rules of other festivals without really thinking about why they want unproduced work.
I mean, I have a hard time figuring out why a ten minute play I’ve written, that has received one production in Chennai India, would be disqualified from getting a production in Lansing Michigan.
And I understand putting certain limitations and requirements on a creative work is the right of the festival. For example, many festivals have particular themes or require the use of a specific prop or a maximum or minimum number of actors or a particular gender. That’s alright. Playwriting festivals are not the only type of competition that have specific requirements or restrictions. When I entered my commercial television productions into competitions there were often requirements that the work be produced within a year or two of the contest. But I don’t recall ever entering any competition where they said, “Oh you’ve won a Telly award for that spot, well then, I’m sorry but that eliminates you from competing for a Worldfest Houston award.”
Can you imagine telling James Cameron he’s disqualified from entering Titanic into the Oscars, because he’s already won a People’s Choice Award? Does that make any sense?
Now, I’ve heard the argument that these festivals want to give new work and new playwrights a chance to be heard. And I applaud the efforts of any theatre company to produce new work – in fact, I’m standing up now giving all theatre’s that produce new work a standing ovation – Bravo! But when you focus on new rather than good you’re not allowing the good work to be heard.
Can you imagine a band being forced to come up with a new song for each radio station that agreed to play the band’s music? “I’m sorry lads but this song was played on CKLM The River over in Hooperville so you’ll have to come up with something new – and just as good – for us here in Sedgeway or we can’t play your music.”
For the most part, a musical group (or any artist for that matter) will produce a few songs, or works of art if you like, that strike a broad appeal. You know the three songs they’re known for. The ones you want to hear when you go to the concert. But the majority of their music won’t have the same degree of success.
Denying someone the chance to have their best work compete in a festival actually – in my opinion – works against having the work of new and upcoming playwrights heard because their best work is disqualified in some festivals because it’s been produced at another festival half way across the globe or in the next state or province. Now I want you to understand I’m in no way complaining about doing the work necessary to write new plays. I just think if you’re going to make new work a requirement for your festival then you should have a good reason for doing so.
So, are there times when asking for new work is reasonable?
Yes. Of course there is. If – the contest has a national or international profile such as the Yale Drama Award or if there’s going to be a full production. If there’s significant prize money. If your play is being promoted through conventional and social media. Then by all means – a festival has every right to ask for new never produced work. But if your festival only provides a reading, for example, then your demand for new work is unnecessary – in my opinion.
So, do I ever enter contests that require the work be unproduced? Yes, of course I do – all the time. And I will continue to do so.
And I do appreciate and understand the hard work and effort that goes into running and staging a festival. And I do appreciate it when my work gets produced. In fact, when a festival does my work I make an extra effort to support the festival through social media and my blog because whenever someone produces my work I consider it my role to help make the festival a success. In fact, last week’s post was about my play Never Give Up being one of twenty four plays being presented at the 14th Annual North Park Playwrights Festival in San Diego California this weekend.
Anyway, I think I’ve ranted and raged and pontificated enough. Don’t you? I think it’s time to get to the playwriting opportunities I promised.
As for me, I’m going to go write some new plays. There’s a play festival or two coming up that I want to enter and they require new work and you know what – sometimes a festival and a deadline can be a great motivator for writing a new play.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum
Opportunity: Botanicum Seedlings – A Development Series for Playwrights
Location: Topanga, California, USA
Deadline: Submissions accepted September 1 to November 1 annually.
Submission Fee: None Listed
Type: Full Length Plays
Restrictions: Only the first 200 plays submitted will be considered.
Award: Opportunities through Botanicum Seedlings include Playreadings, Play Festivals, private GreenReads (for a fresh look at early drafts) and Playwrights Workshops through Theatricum’s Academy, culminating in developmental GreenReads. Submissions may also be considered for production as part of Theatricum Botanicum’s Summer Repertory Season.
Note: Theatricum encourages provocative, political and socially relevant material, and prefers works that are uniquely theatrical and character-driven.
- Botanicum Seedlings is committed to gender parity, with a goal of 50% or more women playwrights and directors involved in its public readings.
- The goals of Botanicum Seedlings are to; maintain focus on the needs of the playwright in regard to a play’s growth; foster relationships with emerging playwrights around the globe; act as an advocate whenever appropriate in recommending plays to other companies; establish Theatricum Botanicum as a guiding force in the development of original material; and provide a nurturing environment in which Theatricum company members can expand and stretch in new directions as actors as well as directors, writers and dramaturgs.
For complete submission details and festival information refer to the Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum Theatre Botanicum Seedlings Web site.
Tree City Playhouse
Opportunity: 10-Minute Play Competition
Location: Sylvania, Ohio, USA
Deadline: November 1, 2016
Submission Fee: $5 entry fee or copy of current Dramatist Guild membership card
Type: 10-Minute Play Competition
Restrictions: Entries must be one-act stage plays with performance times of 8 to 15 minutes.
- Submissions are restricted to original dramatic works.
- No adaptations.
- No plays previously published or submitted to this playwriting competition.
- Only one play per playwright may be entered per year.
- There are no restrictions on genre or theme.
Award: Cash awards of $250 for 1st place, $100 for 2nd place, and $50 for 3rd place. Winning plays will be produced by Tree City Playhouse.
Note: Scripts are judged on concept, dramatic action, characterization and dialogue. Plays with 2 to 4 characters, limited staging requirements, and content/language sensitive to the “family-friendly” value of Tree City Playhouse are preferred.
For complete submission details and festival information refer to the Tree City Playhouse 10 Minute Play Competition Web site.
Sanguine Theatre Company
Opportunity: Project Playwright Festival
Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Deadline: Submissions are open from October 1st to November 15th.
Submission Fee: $5 non-refundable administrative fee is due at the time of submission.
Type: Full length play.
Restrictions: Submissions must be a full length play that requires a cast of at least two but no more than eight actors. Plays should utilizes technical elements in minimal but theatrical ways and align with Sanguine’s mission to pursue relevant, thought-provoking new works.
- Plays should be unpublished but may have had a workshop or staged reading performance. If a playwright is selected as a semi-finalist and their submission has had previous productions Sanguine Theatre will review the play’s history and take that into consideration.
Award: Finalists will be invited to participate in a festival evening of excerpted staged readings in New York City, and one play will be chosen by the Festival audience to receive a fully-produced world premiere production as part of Sanguine’s 2017 season. A stipend will also be provided to the playwright for their production.
Note: Writers based anywhere in the world are encouraged to apply.
- All playwrights entering the festival should read the Project Playwright Consent Agreement.
For complete submission details and festival information refer to the Sanguine Theatre Company Project Playwright Festival Web site.
Opportunity: Seven Devils Playwrights Conference
Location: id Theater – Brooklyn, New York, USA
Location: Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, McCall, Idaho, USA
Deadline: Submissions will be accepted from August 15 to November 1st, 2016
Submission Fee: $10.00 application fee
Type: Full Length Plays
Restrictions: Plays must not have received a professional AEA production. Readings and workshops are fine.
Award: The 2017 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference will take place in McCall, Idaho in the middle two weeks of June. Invited playwrights must be in residence for the entire two weeks of the Conference.
- Final decisions about which plays we will be developing will be made by mid-April. Four playwrights will be invited to participate in our series of Staged Readings. Between two and four playwrights will be invited to participate in the Playwrights Intensive Program of Seated Readings or a Playwrights-in-Residence program.
- Plays in the Staged Reading Program are presented as fully staged readings with minimal props, sets & lights. Playwrights are provided with transportation, housing, access to a car and a modest stipend.
- The Playwrights Intensive Program presents seated readings. We provide housing, access to a car and a modest stipend for playwrights in this program, and do our best to contribute to transportation costs; funding for this program can vary from year to year.
- Once invited to participate, playwrights are assigned a director and a dramaturg. In McCall, they will be assigned a company of actors. During the rehearsal process playwrights are welcome to rewrite the play as much or as little as they like.
Note: The Seven Devils Playwrights Conference supports the development of plays that embrace, explore and challenge the diverse geographical, philosophical, cultural, aesthetic and political landscape of the American experience – rural and urban, east and west, coastal and inland. We’re interested in addressing the needs, hopes, concerns and ambitions of American audiences.
- id Theater does not ask for any rights on the play at any time. Also, please note that this is a DEVELOPMENT Conference. We do not “produce” plays.
- This is not a blind submission process: please be sure your name is on your play.
For complete submission details and festival information refer to id Theatre Seven Devils Playwrights Conference Web site.
Ruby Slippers Theatre in partnership with the Vancouver Fringe Festival and Equity in Theatre
Opportunity: Advance Theatre: New Works by Diverse Women
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Deadline: February 15, 2017
Submission Fee: None.
Restrictions: This is a curated process for women playwrights and directors living and working in Canada. Priority will be given to diversity. (Diversity in cultural background, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation and age.)
- One submission per playwright.
Award: The Advance Theatre series will showcase dramatic readings of five new plays written by diverse Canadian women and directed by diverse Canadian women. The readings will take place over five days during the Vancouver Fringe Festival, in September 2017.
- If you are chosen to participate in the Advance Theatre series, Ruby Slippers Theatre and the Fringe will cover the costs of all rehearsals, your technical rehearsal, promotion, a theatrical venue on Granville Island, and artists’ fees for a public staged reading of your new play during the Fringe Festival.
NOTE: Successful candidates will be notified by May 15, 2017. This is a curated process for women playwrights and directors living and working in Canada. Priority will be given to diversity.
For complete submission details and festival information refer to the Ruby Slippers Theatre New Works by Diverse Women Web site.
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