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Premiere Stages at Kean University Seeks Submissions For 2020 Play Festival

originally published: 08/31/2019

Premiere Stages at Kean University Seeks Submissions For 2020 Play Festival

(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, is now accepting submissions for the 16th annual Premiere Play Festival.  This yearly competition for unproduced scripts offers developmental and production opportunities to four playwrights with strong ties to the greater metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware).

Premiere will accept submissions September 1 through December 1, 2019 and select four finalists by early March 2020; any submissions received after this submission window will not be considered. In an effort to streamline the process and make it more user-friendly, Premiere will accept all submissions electronically through Submittable  (this link is also available through Premiere’s website). All four finalists will receive developmental readings, scheduled for March 12-15, 2020, with a winner and runner-up announced in April 2020. The festival winner will be awarded a $2,500 advance and receive a full Equity production in the 2020 Mainstage Season; the runner-up will receive $1,000 and an Equity 29-hour staged reading June 19-21, 2020. The two remaining finalists will each receive an honorarium of $750. In 2019, Premiere Stages received 659 submissions to the Festival.

Through the uniquely accelerated Play Festival process, Premiere Stages provides an encouraging and highly focused environment in which playwrights can develop their work. Premiere Stages also actively advocates for Festival writers by reaching out to other theatres to secure subsequent productions, and partnering with other organizations and theatres to extend the profile and life of the works developed.

In the fifteen seasons since its founding, the Premiere Play Festival has received over 5,000 submissions and developed more than eighty plays. Multiple plays produced at Premiere have been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association, and/or been published by Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing Company, Playscripts and Broadway Play Publishing. A number of Play Festival winners and finalists have subsequently been produced in New York and at regional theatres across the country. To assist with the expansion of the Festival, three new literary staff are joining Premiere, including Claudia Nolan, Literary Associate, and Megan Tobias, Literary and Producing Assistant. The third position, a new full-time Education and Play Festival Manager, will be hired in September.

“With the sharp increase in submissions and expanded interest in the Festival, the program is growing and evolving,” stated John J. Wooten, Producing Artistic Director and founder of Premiere Stages. “We are very excited to welcome Claudia and Megan to the team and look forward to the new manager joining us in September.”



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All 2020 Premiere Play Festival entries will be evaluated by a panel of theatre professionals in consultation with Premiere artistic staff. Agents and theatre professionals with an affiliation to Premiere Stages may submit full scripts; playwrights may submit a synopsis and script sample directly. The submission window is September 1, 2019 through December 1, 2019, and there is no fee to enter the competition. Complete submission guidelines are available online. Premiere Stages is committed to supporting a diverse group of writers; playwrights of all backgrounds, ages, and experience levels are encouraged to submit. All entrants are encouraged to review Premiere Stages’ production history, which is also posted on the website.

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Sign-interpreted, audio-described and open-captioned performances are available upon request; please call 908-737-4077 at least two weeks prior to your desired performance.

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Investors Foundation, The Union County HEART Grant, Actors’ Equity Foundation, and through the generous support of individual patrons and local organizations. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. 

Premiere Stages is committed to producing topical plays and interactive programs that reflect people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, religious groups, gender identities, ages, abilities, disabilities and sexual preferences.  

PHOTOKelley Rae O’Donnell and Kathy McCafferty in Tammy Ryan’s The Wake, winner of the 2019 Premiere Play Festival. Photo by Mike Peters.


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