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Dramatists Guild, Blackboard Plays and PAAL Partner For Black Motherhood And Parenting New Play Festival

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Submissions will open in August, and the final four plays will be selected by the fall of 2020.

Dramatists Guild, Blackboard Plays and PAAL Partner For Black Motherhood And Parenting New Play Festival

Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) and Blackboard Plays have announced a new play submission open call for The Black Motherhood* and Parenting New Play Festival. The festival curators will provide prompts and boundaries for submissions that will have the opportunity to be selected as finalists for a digital workshop. The festival will be presented in a partnership between PAAL, Blackboard Plays - an organization with over a decade of experience in creating dedicated space for readings, workshops, and other opportunities for Black playwrights - and The Dramatists Guild of America. *PAAL is a transgender and non-binary affirming organization. Mother is an inclusive term for everyone who identifies with it.

The festival will be open to all Black playwrights around the country. The project will be curated by Blackboard founder and artistic director, and PAAL Chief Rep of New York City, Garlia Cornelia Jones. Garlia has written extensively for The Washington Post and multiple publications on her journey through motherhood.

The festival's submission review committee will be composed exclusively of Black artists, grouped as a combination of Blackboard members and PAAL representatives. The call for new plays will be in four phases: first, there will be an open call around the country for ten-minute plays; second, the judges will select winners from the ten-minute submissions to expand to one acts; the winning plays will be expanded into one-acts; third, the review committee will select three of the one-acts plays to award, and subsequently produce for digital performance. Phase four will provide awards to the playwrights to continue developing their plays.

"Black parenthood is often overlooked in our national and artistic conversations and represented without the nuance that white parents and parenting stories often include," Garlia adds, "My journey as a parent has been alongside the growth of my artistic career. Blackboard was founded years before I had children, but remained part of my life, exposing me to the inequities in our field towards parents, BIPOC artists and women. PAAL's entrance into my life has enabled me to find the balance between advocating for others so they are supported in ways I was not and shedding light on the truths in our industry."

Dismantling systemic racism through art requires the creation of platforms and opportunities to tell stories that illuminate the reality, obstacles, pain, joy, celebration, humor, revelation, and even mundane aspects of the human experience lived by BIPOC individuals. For Black mothers, specifically, obstacles include increased post-birth mortality rates. Black mothers' victories include being some of history's greatest leaders and game changers, like congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke - the first Black woman elected to the California assembly, and first woman to serve in Congress while expecting a child - and Maya Angelou, beloved poet and activist.

"It's not enough to know Black parenting and caregiving only through the lens of the well-known," adds PAAL founder Rachel Spencer Hewitt, "Art must make seen the experiences of the unknown so that our engagement in society, education, and empathy are rooted in a deep understanding of storytelling that empowers the community it illuminates."

"The Dramatists Guild is honored to support the work of PAAL and BlackBoard," adds Tina Fallon, Executive Director, Creative Affairs at Dramatists Guild of America, "Especially right now, as we are distanced from each other, every opportunity to expand our community is a cause for celebration."

Five awards will be given out in total. The majority of these awards will go to plays that engage with the theme of Black motherhood. Other festival awards will be for plays that explore transgender, non-binary, and additional gender inclusion. There will also be an award for a submission that examines Black fatherhood.

To accomplish this artistic and activist goal on a national scale, PAAL and Blackboard are committed to a Black Exclusive Budget (BEB) for every budget line item; they will be funding only Black artists in the development and execution of the project (with the exception of the honorariums given to actors in accordance to casting requirements, if necessary).

PAAL will be providing stipends to the lead curator (a playwright), the review committee members, majority playwrights, the second round award playwright recipients, third round award playwright recipients, and technical producer, cast, and creative team for the digital performances.

To donate to this project, visit PAAL's Fractured Atlas page. All donations made to PAAL for the months of July through November have been earmarked for Black artists with families and for The Black Motherhood & Parenting Play Festival. Submissions will open in August, and the final four plays will be selected by the fall of 2020. Subscribe here to receive updates on this initiative.

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