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The Playwrights Realm Launches Open Submissions for Their Writing Fellowship and Scratchpad Series

The company will accept submissions today (January 11) through February 7.

The Playwrights Realm Launches Open Submissions for Their Writing Fellowship and Scratchpad Series

How many theater companies can say that over half of the playwrights whose work they've produced have been introduced to them through open submissions? That they will closely read, and in many cases develop, submitted full-length plays regardless of whether the playwright has an MFA, an agent, or any history of production? Today, at a time when most development opportunities for writers and artists have disappeared, The Playwrights Realm is launching their annual open submissions for their 2021/2022 Writing Fellowship (the company's longest-running artistic development program) and Scratchpad Series. They are looking for playwrights-including this year, for the first time, outside the US-who take risks, embrace theatricality, and exhibit imagination, bravery, and intellectual curiosity. The Realm supports playwrights and stories that fully reflect the diversity of the society we live in, and encourages writers and stories from every cultural perspective, experience, and background to submit. The company will accept submissions (which can be made here) today (January 11) through February 7.

Considering open submissions-and actually reading them in full-is fundamental to The Realm's dedication to early-career playwrights, its development of electrifying new work, and its creation of a pipeline from submission to production. (53% of playwrights produced by The Realm first connected with the company via open submission.) Among these open submissions, they are not looking for an already-perfect play, but rather playwrights whose voices inspire, whose works boast powerful evocative language, multifaceted characters, and a strong sense of story.

The reading of newly submitted work and selection of Writing Fellows and Scratchpad Playwrights are key to The Realm's artist-serving mission. These previously established programs have propelled The Realm, and given them insight, to reimagine its work and purpose as a full-time playwrights service organization during the pandemic. In 2020, they initiated new programs including an International Theatermakers Award (given to three immigrant theater artists), Emergency Relief Funding (a financial relief program for playwrights who expressed need), the online mentorship program Virtual Realm, and free online community classes, workshops, and panels led by The Realm's playwrights, staff, and industry professionals. In keeping with the expansion of its multiform support systems, The Realm now adapts the Scratchpad Series virtually, so they can, for the first time, include international playwrights in the process.

Associate Artistic Director Alexis Williams says, "One of the most exciting parts of working at a company that accepts open submissions is getting to read a work by an early-career artist you don't know at all, whose writing jumps out as unique and exhilarating-and knowing you have the resources to help create pathways for that artist to thrive in the larger American theater landscape. Our open submissions are our way of telling playwrights-for the first time, around the world-that regardless of their previous credentials, or whether they're coming to us via an agent, we want to hear new voices. And-as a hybrid playwrights service and producing organization-we want to use our multifaceted approach to amplify them."

Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner says, "Every script submitted to us is read in full by our pool or readers, before they select works to pass on to our staff. We're trying to get a true sense of a playwright and what sparks their writing; it takes playwrights a long time to write these scripts, and we like to give them the respect of this concentrated consideration. We look forward to digging into these first introductions to writers who will ultimately become new members of the Realm community."

The Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship Program

The Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship Program awards four early-career playwrights with nine months of resources (including a $3,000 stipend), workshops and feedback designed to help them reach their professional and artistic goals. Fellows develop a single, new play, with monthly group meetings that provide a collaborative space for writers to share and refine their work, and one-on-one meetings with Realm artistic staff to support each writer's process. Fellows collaborate with a director, design consultants, and actors for two readings. Personalized professional development resources are tailored to the group: mentor opportunities, meet-and-greets, and professional seminars are designed to shed light on the business of theatre, and empower the Fellows to be active, informed participants in their own careers. The program culminates with the INK'D Festival, featuring a public (either in person or virtual) presentation for each Fellow.

2020/2021 Writing Fellow Phillip Christian Smith, one of four Fellows selected from 400 applications, highlights the support and inspiration the program has offered, saying, "The Realm had a meet and greet with directors and magically I made a connection with one of them, Taneisha Duggan, to direct my reading. Taneisha and I are as thick as thieves for two people who have never seen each other in person, it was very important for me to have a Black director for this very complicated story of a Brooklyn family dealing with the spreading waves of trauma emanating from the murder of Eric Garner in 2014. The Realm has also made arrangements for me to have headshots taken at no expense to me, for which I am so grateful, being unemployed for the first time in my life due to a nasty case of Covid-19, and currently on chemotherapy in treatment for Multiple Myeloma. Workshopping my play, and building and developing my career with The Playwrights Realm has been a double blessing."

Scratchpad Series

The Scratchpad Series opens The Realm's doors to early-career playwrights from around the world, deepening the company's ability to do what it does best: listening to what playwrights need, and giving it to them. Scratchpad is a chance for The Realm to engage with an entirely new group of playwrights each year, erasing limitations of geography or access by identifying and inviting playwrights from across the globe to participate. In previous iterations, the series brought playwrights from across the country to The Realm; in our moment of pandemic, with the broadening of virtual theater-making, communication, and collaboration, The Realm can now offer the support of the Scratchpad Series to playwrights abroad as well.

The series supports playwrights with a paid developmental process of up to one week culminating in a reading (internal or public, at the writer's discretion) of the play. It connects them with professional collaborators, such as a director, casting director, cast, and The Realm's artistic staff-who offer dramaturgical development and discussion prior to and following each reading, as well as professional development guidance and industry introductions.

2020/2021 Scratchpad playwright Eliana Pipes says the play she's workshopping in Scratchpad "is easily the scariest thing [she's] ever written - it's the most ambitious in scale, the most complex in terms of concept and form, and the most ferociously personal." She describes, "The dramaturgical support and staged reading built into Scratchpad is such an incredible gift, but the Realm's support this season has already gone beyond development. I came to the Realm with an urgent need to connect with new collaborators, a task that felt impossible during the pandemic. I left New York for a fully-funded graduate program where I was able to build out a portfolio of plays, and now I'm woefully lacking relationships with directors, designers, and actors who can help me bring those plays to life. The Realm's virtual mixers have already helped me spark connections with incredible new friends and collaborators, and to find community with other artists who are feeling the impact of the pandemic."

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