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The 5th Avenue Theatre Opens Submissions for the Second Cycle of Musical Development Program

Submissions due April 1, 2021; Five commissions will be announced in early May.

The 5th Avenue Theatre opened submissions today for the second cycle of its flagship new musical development program, First Draft: Raise Your Voice, a program designed to nurture new voices and new stories.

The second cycle will commission five first drafts of new musicals over an 18-month period. During this time, the commissioned writing teams will receive financial, artistic, and dramaturgical support as they complete this first draft and will have the opportunity hear their words spoken and songs sung at preliminary readings.

This cycle of First Draft is soliciting submissions from BIPOC writers of all gender identities (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), women writers, transgender writers, gender non-conforming writers, and non-binary writers. Writing teams should be made up of a composer, lyricist, and book writer. Teams can be one to three people, acknowledging that some writers will take on more than one job. Submissions will be accepted through April 1 at Ten teams will be selected to participate in an interview process across the month of April and five teams will be selected for a commission, with an announcement expected in early May.

Created in 2018, First Draft: Raise Your Voice has three goals: foster new musicals by writers from populations that have been underrepresented in the musical theater canon; encourage and support brand new stories from authentic perspectives; and introduce new, creative voices to theater professionals and producers to amplify their work so that it is seen, heard, and developed by the greater musical theater community.

"The stories in the musical theater canon are predominantly written by cis-gendered white men," said Associate Artistic Director Kelsey Thorgalsen, who oversees the program. "There's no way for a lens that narrow to meaningfully reflect the full breadth and depth of the human experience. Our world is so diverse and so beautiful, and our artistic experiences should reflect that. And more than new stories, this program is about nurturing and establishing new voices in this industry, and making the creation of musical theater a welcoming space where everyone's voice can be heard."

The commission will include: a $15,000 commission fee for the team; a week-long story summit to support the outlining of the show; a writer's retreat; a residency ending in a table-read; and a week-long reading in either New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Seattle. Writers will be compensated in addition to the commission fee for their work during these times. Dramaturgical support will be provided throughout the process to help with story structure, character development, and historical context. Additionally, Theatre Latte Da in Minneapolis has committed to presenting a show from Frist Draft in a future NEXT Festival, which offers 50 hours of workshop and two public presentations of selected projects. Due to COVID-19, all activities will take place virtually until we can safely gather. Any accessibility needs will be met.

For more information about The 5th Avenue Theatre, its season and its programs, please visit

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