The blog has been a bit quiet lately, but Fresh Ink has been buzzing behind the scenes -- we’ve been busy gearing up for our next production, bringing a new Managing Director on board, and getting ready to launch our new work program this spring. So much exciting stuff for the new year!
Our submission window opens in about two weeks, and I can’t wait to dig into our first batch of scripts. As a company, we thought long and hard about how to design a submission policy that would best serve our company’s mission and our local playwriting community.
Conversations about submission policies tend to be quite fraught. I’ve spoken with playwrights and literary managers, and have read plenty of articles and blogs about the issue. It seems there’s one thing everyone can agree on: the process is far from ideal. Playwrights send their scripts to tons of theatres, often getting no response at all, while literary managers are inundated with more submissions than they can possibly get through. Script decisions are often placed in the hands of underpaid interns or readers, who do much of the reading. The process can be long and shrouded in mystery from a writer’s perspective. And the list goes on…
(Some interesting conversations about submissions can be found here, here, and here for starters.)
A closed or agency sourced submission policy is a solution to some of these problems, but not one that felt right for us. Because Fresh Ink is a company focused on new play development, access was important to us and we hoped to provide all local writers with the opportunity to get produced. We wanted to make sure playwrights didn’t feel like they were sending their scripts into a black hole. We wanted to carefully consider each submission in its entirety and respond in a reasonable time frame. We were also conscious of our own resources and wanted to ensure our tiny staff and budget weren’t stretched too thin.
So we thought, if the typical submission model is broken, let’s try something new. Something that will address several of the most common complaints tossed about by writers and theatres alike, and still gives us quality work from a variety of local artists. Our solution is a little risky and entirely unique -- here’s what we came up with:
We will begin taking scripts on February 1st, and will accept up to 40 plays for submission. The window will close once that number has been reached, at which point our tiny staff has about a month and a half to get through all the submissions. We are only accepting full scripts and will read the entire play for consideration. Each writer will get an actual response, not a form letter. All our submissions will be electronic, saving both trees and postage. There are no submission fees or educational requirements, and writers at any stage of their career are welcome to submit. At least two of our three production slots will be filled from this open submission process and each writer will work with us over the course of the season, receiving a reading and workshop before the play goes into production.
(You can read the rest of the eligibility and submission requirements here.)
It’s our first year doing open submissions, and we are shaking things up right out of the gate. Our policy may very well change next year, then again, it might not. We’ll let you know how it goes! I welcome any questions or feedback along the way. This is our grand experiment and we’ll see the results in a few months. I really hope you’ll join us as we take this big leap.
Now get writing!
Jessie, Literary Director