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University Of The Arts' Polyphone Festival Accepting Applications For 2021 Festival

Applications are due Friday, September 4, 2020 at 11:59pm.

The Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals is currently accepting applications for musicals for its 2021 Festival. Applications are due Friday, September 4, 2020 at 11:59pm. For more full details, please visit http//

The Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals is a nationally recognized festival of the emerging musical at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. For the last six years, UArts brought professional composers, librettists, directors, choreographers and music directors from the field to the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at UArts to work with student casts and creative teams on musicals in progress.

The Polyphone process supports creators of new musicals with a paid opportunity to make their work, while giving over 100 students on-the-ground training in new musical theater development. Polyphone gives adventurous new musicals time and space to develop, free from the pressures of commercial interests, producing theaters, or reviews.

Polyphone traditionally programs 4 musicals each year, cast from around 150 auditioning students and workshopped over a 7-week process. The final presentations have been off-book, staged concert productions with a small band and full lighting and sound design. The process has allowed creators to make changes throughout the rehearsal period and work their musical on its feet for the first time.

The Polyphone Festival staff recognizes that we are living in a time of unprecedented uncertainty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2020 Polyphone Festival was cut short due to quarantine restrictions, but our hope is that we will be able to gather safely in the Spring semester of 2021 and proceed with the festival as planned. This Fall, the UArts community will make theater together despite the challenges and limitations of an all online semester. In the Spring UArts will continue to prioritize the safety and health of its students, faculty, staff, and guest artists above all as they maintain our commitment to the creation of vital, dynamic theatrical work. Should the festival be unable to culminate in live performance due to the ongoing pandemic, Festival staff will work with guest artists in a spirit of openness and transparency to find new ways to honor their process and further the development of their musicals.

Polyphone is looking for original musicals that are in development with a cast of 7 or more characters. (A cast of 10-15 is ideal.) We define a musical as a performance in which music is a primary mode of storytelling. This can include ensemble-based, devised, experimental and/or operatic work as well as more traditionally-structured book musicals.

If your musical is too big, too weird, too political, too queer, too experimental, too personal, too edgy, too esoteric, too provocative, or too SOMETHING for most musical theater development opportunities, please send it our way!

Polyphone is especially motivated to program voices and stories that are traditionally underrepresented in the musical theater canon. This moment is an opportunity to deconstruct and unsettle the ways in which we develop new work. We acknowledge that we have employed industry-standard structures that uphold the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy, and we seek to actively use this moment to free ourselves from those oppressive standards by reimagining and redefining the process of new musical development. If you find the limitations of this application process do not offer adequate access for you, your voice, and your story to reach us, please contact Artistic Director Maggie-Kate Coleman at

As A Polyphone Author You Receive:

1. Artistic Fee.

2. (for Non-Philadelphia artists) Housing is provided during weekend rehearsals as well as the tech/production process, and reimbursement of bus transportation to Philadelphia is provided.

3. Paid professional director, music director, and choreographer as needed. If a project has an attached director, music director, or choreographer, we will work to bring them on board when possible.

4. Student cast, band (3-5 musicians) and creative assistants.

5. Dramaturgical, logistical and technical support from the festival creative leadership and the UArts community.


1. The musical should be in development and have a cast requiring 7 or more performers. (A cast of 10-15 is ideal.)

2. The musical should have a completed first draft (electronic copies only in PDF form, no hand-written scripts will be accepted) and must have been read at least once in a reading, workshop, or concert setting.

3. Authors and lead creatives must be in residence in Philadelphia Friday through Sunday during the rehearsal and festival period. For Non Philadelphia-based artists, bus travel and housing will be provided for weekend rehearsals, tech and festival weeks. There is no housing for the full 6-week rehearsal period.

4. Lead creative team members should be available for rehearsals Friday Nights, Saturdays and Sundays starting mid-February 2021, with tech and performances scheduled early to mid-April 2021. The exact calendar is currently TBD. A complete production calendar will be provided at time of acceptance.

5. Artists that will be enrolled undergraduate students in the spring 2021 semester are not eligible with the exception of UArts students.

Please Note:

Polyphone is a hybrid educational and creative opportunity. Polyphone guest artists are asked to play the role of educator and artist during the rehearsal period.

Polyphone Festival performances employ limited physical production, but full lighting and sound support using primarily handheld mics (wired and wireless). Bands are limited to 3-5 musicians. There is no projection or video support for Polyphone.


Complete the form located on the Polyphone website


Authors may apply with no more than two musicals, each as a separate application.

If you have any technical issues with the application form or process, please contact Associate Producer Lindsay Cram at


Artistic Director Maggie-Kate Coleman will hold 3 question and answer sessions via Zoom before the application deadline:

Sunday, August 16 2-3:30pm EST (UArts students and Alums particularly encouraged to attend)

Tuesday, August 18 2-3:30pm EST

Wednesday, August 19, 6-7:30 EST

Please complete the reservation form located at to register for the Q&A session of your choice and a Zoom link will be sent to you.

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