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Free Speech Play Contest

Nittany Theatre at the Barn

Theatre of the First Amendment Play Festival

Play Format, Rules & Guidelines

Nittany Theatre at the Barn is pleased to announce the launch of a national playwright competition (with a $3,500 cash prize) in search of a theatrical tribute of freedom of speech in the United States.

Festival Format

From eligible submissions, one play shall be selected for production on the main-stage of Nittany Theatre at the Barn (a 99 seat regional summer stock theatre) during Constitution Week, September 20, 2017. As cast by Nittany Theatre at the Barn’s Producing Artistic Director (and designated directors), members of the resident theatre company will perform the play with simple staging, sets, props, costumes, lighting and sound effects. Depending on the size and complexity of the play, performances may be book-in-hand. The selected play will be staged after six-eight rehearsals and receive THREE performances in front of a live audience. Each performance will be followed by an audience “talk-back” session with playwright, directors, tech, staff, and cast in attendance.

In addition to the staged reading at Nittany Theatre at the Barn, the winning play shall also be showcased for a public-reading staged at the Eisenhower and Laurel Manor theatres in The Villages,  Florida, October 26-27, 2017.

Submission Period:

To be considered for the 2017 Theatre of the First Amendment Play Festival, entries must be submitted by June 1, 2017.

Playwright Eligibility:

There are no playwright eligibility requirements for the contest.

Submission Requirements:

The Theatre of the First Amendment Play Festival considers only plays that meet the following requirements:

  1. Submitted work by a single playwright is preferred, collaborations may be considered;
  2. Submitted work must be either a full-length comedy and/or drama or thematically related one acts which constitute a full-length play when performed together;
  3. At this time, no conventional book-driven musicals or children’s plays will be considered. However, plays that contain original music used to underscore action or to provide mood may be considered. Plays that contain a limited number of vocals either a cappella or accompanied by musical instruments may be considered as a “play with music.” Submissions that contain copyrighted music not held or secured by author will not be considered; and
  4. Plays must not be professionally produced and/or published. Prior readings and workshops are acceptable. Any play that has been produced for more than one consecutive performance in which admission was charged will not be considered.

Submission Guidelines:

Email your submission to the Theatre of the First Amendment, Dave Saxe, Producing Artistic Director (first@nittanytheatre.org). Submissions that do not follow the submission guidelines will not be considered.

  1. Only one play submission per playwright(s) is allowed;
  2. Within your submission, four SEPARATE attachments are required:
    • The script itself with: character breakdowns/references/ descriptions of gender and age; synopsis of play, stage notes as necessary; descriptions (plot) of sets; lists of necessary props, costumes; and suggested lighting and/or sound effects. This attachment MUST NOT CONTAIN any reference to author;
    • A biography and resume of the author;
    • A history of the play (any staging, readings, workshops); and
    • A brief essay of no more than 150 words that describes how the submitted play is tied directly/indirectly to the notion of freedom of speech as underscored by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The play may be a fictional representation of a well-grounded freedom of speech issue/principle set in a contemporary or historical context. The play may also focus on a champion(s) of freedom of speech or individual(s) swept up in a freedom of speech issue/principle set in a contemporary or historical context.

IMPORTANT PREFERRED QUALIFICATION: We are keenly interested in perspectives that offers an authentic voice to American citizens not currently represented/included in American theatre.

NOTE: If a play contains original music, the submission must contain a scoring of the music with all music and vocal parts noted PLUS an audio recording of the music in a conventional digital MP3 form. As necessary to the play divisions, the music (vocals) must be placed in separate sound files.

  1. All email attachments must be in Microsoft Word or PDF format under the following guidelines:
  • Scripts should be in a standard format (Dramatists Guild Modern Stage Play)
  • Text should be in 12-point type and in a standard font such as Times Roman
  • Script must include page numbers at the bottom of each page
  • The author’s name MUST NOT appear anywhere in the script

Winning Playwright:

  1. The winning play shall be selected by a panel of readers.
  2. The winning play shall be announced by July 4, 2017.
  3. The playwright will retain all copyright to the submitted material.
  4. The playwright is invited to attend the Theatre of the First Amendment Play Festival (September 19-20-21, 2017); for the staged productions/readings of their play as well as attend all audience response sessions.
  5. The winning play may be considered for a fully-stage production on the main-stage of Nittany Theatre at the Barn in a subsequent season.
  6. For a period of two years following the announcement of the winning play, Nittany Theatre at the Barn retains rights to stage and perform the winning play.

Awards for Winning Playwrights

  1. The winning playwright shall receive a transportation stipend plus lodgings and meals during the festival; and
  2. The winning play shall receive a $3,500 cash prize.

SUBMISSION ADDRESSED TO:

first@nittanytheatre.org

www.nittanytheatre.orgNittany Theatre at the Barn