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Passionate about new Jewish plays? Read on.
NEW PLAY & MUSICAL SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: SUBMISSIONS ARE OPEN TO ARTISTS OF ALL BACKGROUNDS, DENOMINATIONS, FAITHS, CREEDS, RELIGIONS, and other IDEALS. We believe that Jewish identity and culture are specific manifestations of universal human cravings for spiritual, ethical, moral and worldly joy. “Matrilineal descent” is neither important nor necessary.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: The Jewish Plays Project now accepts scripts for new Jewish plays and musicals on an open, rolling basis. However, our reading period is April-October. To guarantee we consider your play for the most current review cycle, please submit by June 2. Plays submitted after this date will be held for the next cycle.
*** NB: As of April 20, 2023, the application for the 13th Annual Jewish Playwriting Contest is OPEN. ***
SUBMISSION PROCESS: Fill out the Submission Form and attach a play to the form as a PDF. You must submit your play with your name and other identifying information removed (we review all plays blind). We do not charge a fee to submit (cause we kinda think submission fees are “yucky”. That’s a technical term).
The following must be true of a submitted play or musical:
- It contains significant Jewish themes, characters, content, or points of view.
- It is in English, or primarily in English—we love plays that play with language as a theatrical tool, and plays that explore the differences in language. It just needs to be primarily accessible to an English speaking audience. (We welcome translations.)
- It is full length, meaning over around 75 minutes in length. (For a guide, that usually means 60 pages or more. We DO NOT review 10 or 20 minute plays.)
- It has not had a full production in the NY Metro region or a major regional theater (LORT C or above).
- It has never been published in any form.
NOTE: We are most interested in submissions that embrace and depend on Jewish identity at their dramatic core, while avoiding stereotypical forms that rely on cultural or ethnic shorthands in lieu of dramatic development. This holds true whether dealing with the historical gravity of the Holocaust or employing stereotypical tropes for comic effect.
Please submit your script as a PDF document with all personally identifiable information removed (to aid in blind reading). We ask that you endeavor to follow the formatting guidelines set by the Dramatists Guild: See the guide to formats here.
The JPP does develop musicals (see our workshops of David Hein and Irene Sankoff’s Mitzvah and Deborah Yarchun’s And You Shall Be a Blessing). Submitted musicals must include links to recordings of at least 3 songs to be reviewed. Please note, we review musicals on a different timeline than our other programming.
The JPP brings all the tools of new play development to bear on the plays we select: dramaturgical consultation and research; the involvement of collaborating artists – including directors, designers and actors – at all stages as needed; private and public presentations; and industry advocacy.
What distinguishes the JPP process is what we call Jewish Dramaturgy. We base our exploration of the theatrical needs of a play around the central issue of its Jewish content and ideas, continuing to ask the question “What is the Jewish here?” When possible, we will bring prominent Jewish thought leaders (clergy, scholars, professionals and artists) into the room to join the development process, and extend the Jewish learning.
We partner with great writers who not only have a great idea for a play, but have a heartfelt intention to write a Jewish play. To us, this means that during the development process, the writer is committed to making decisions about the progress of the play (or musical) that enhance and deepen the Jewish content, spirit, ideas and values in the work.
This is where the JPP development process differs from other NPD venues. We will ask you to “make your play more Jewish”. We will back this up with the expertise, support and resources to investigate how that works in your play.
This does NOT mean asking writers to add more prayer, or Jewish melodies, or latkes. It does not mean privileging Jewish characters or settings. It does not mean more Jewish mothers or bar mitzvah jokes.
It means seeking intersectionality with all our brothers, sisters and siblings. It means embracing change and building diversity. It means stirring revolution and sparking resistance. It means bringing the best of Jewish history – the radical intellectual tradition that is core to the Jewish spirit – into the 21st Century.
It means digging deep and asking how identifying as or being identified as Jewish affects our sense of self, of community, and of thinking about our place in the world.
We believe great Jewish stories/plays lead to great questions and conversations about our multiple Jewish identities, and that rigorous conversation and questions lead to great plays. It is important to the JPP to identify writers during the selection process who share these intentions.
The JPP seeks plays that find the intersection between Jewish identity and global self. We want to look at the places where Jewish ideas, traditions, stories, myths, culture (and yes, religion) impact, inform, and hopefully improve our lives.
While we value history, we will always lean toward plays that tackle vibrant strands of today’s world: social justice, economic justice, diversity, strong women in Jewish life, LGBTQ inclusion, new perspectives on Israel, environmentalism, and interfaith relations in addition to deep conversations about our complex and multifaceted identities.
We discourage the beloved category of “ethnically stereotypical comedy” (No ‘Yiddishemammeh” plays, no “My Afternoon With Bubbe”, no “Jewlicious”).
The JPP also discourages plays whose main goal is memorializing or educating about the Holocaust; we feel that we already have a strong cannon of plays, literature, and film that serve those functions and that superior new works would find a strong development path without our help.
We would also caution writers to make sure that you do not rely on the emotion stirred by Holocaust remembrance as a substitute for dramatic development or tension, as well as discourage writing that reduces Jewish identity to a Holocaust legacy.
As we enter our second decade, so much has changed in the Jewish conversation. One of the things we love to do at the JPP is encourage writers to tackle some big, new, potentially-controversial ideas. Because that’s when it gets fun!
Here’s some things that are on our minds right now.
What does Jewish look like?
If you look at public culture – particularly theater – over the past century, you’d have to assume that American Jews were entirely white, Ashkenazi, of Northern or Eastern European background. That was never really true, and it’s less true now than ever.
Today, as many as 17% identify as Jews of Color, 10% (and growing) are Orthodox, and Sephardi, Mizrahi and Israeli communities have taken their own place in the dialogue. Combine this with questions of gender and sexuality and intermarriage and religiosity – and the Jewish community is massively intersectional and diverse.
Now, we need our plays to catch up.
(See Molly Olis Krost’s WHAT WE FOUND)
Jews, Race and Racial Justice
Jewish commitment to racial justice is real, from the Freedom Riders to Rabbi Heschel to JFREJ and Bend the Arc. But it’s been a long time since American Jews were an oppressed minority unequivocally allied with other racial and ethnic groups striving for full enfranchisement in the civic body.
How is today’s American Jewish community – a powerful interest group with access and agency – meeting this radical moment of racial reckoning?
Can we TALK about Israel?
According to the Pew study, 82% of American Jews say that Israel is important to their Jewish identity. But man, oh man, is it getting hard to live our progressive values and while embracing the current state of the Zionist project. This is the charged third rail of the Jewish conversation, the one that can short circuit any worthwhile endeavor (see the recent march in DC).
The question for the JPP is NOT what should happen in the Holy Land – that’s way above our pay grade, and really an issue for the peoples who live there to determine. The question is how can we talk to each other about it without devolving into shouting and name calling?
We truly believe – if American Jews could figure out how to TALK about Israel together – how to disagree with grace, civility and compassion – THAT is how we can be a light unto the nations.
(See Seth Rozin’s SETTLEMENTS)
Anti-Semites and the Jews Who Love Them
We’re not “they sky is falling” kinda folk, but we recognize that anti-Semitism is back in a big way. That’s not news. What is new is the bizarre kinships springing up these days.
- Anti-Semitism on the political Right: From the Twitterverse to the (former) White House to Lakewood, NJ, Jews are spending an awful lot of time with some unsavory folks. Can we get to the bottom of that?
- Anti-Semitism on the political Left: From Alice Walker to Jeremy Corbyn to Ilan Omar, some very smart people are saying some very troubling things. How do we find common ground with our progressive colleagues?
At least two members of our Artist Panel (over 50 members!) and a member of the JPP staff will read and review your play. Senior JPP artistic staff and advisors will review submissions by agents and managers. Our cohort of staff and readers meet regularly to interrogate and advocate for the most engaging, ressonant, well-crafted, and on-mission plays of the reading cycle.
The JPP will respond to all submitted plays in a timely manner.
- If the JPP selects your play for development, you will be informed prior to public announcement of the selection.
- If we are definitely NOT going to be able to work on your play, we will let you know as soon as we can. We don’t want to keep anyone hanging.
- If we have announced a selection of plays that doesn’t include yours, but we have not notified you that we are passing on your play, that means your play is intriguing to someone on our Reading Panels. Your play isn’t necessarily next in line, and we may not yet know here or if it fits into our programming; we simply found interesting and worthy of keeping in cosideration. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT US – doing so will not accelerate our work on your play.
If you have submitted your play to the JPP before, it is still eligible (with the exception of previous Contest winners). However, before you resubmit, consider whether one of the following is true: a) you have made significant rewrites to the play; b) your play has received additional development by an outside theater company (i.e. something outside a table read at your house); or c) you feel that something in the current zeitgeist has shifted the context around your play and made it newly relevant. We believe that the right play may simply need to find the right play or the right time or the right reader, but we ask you to be aware of our limited resources.
The JPP works with actors, directors, dramaturgs, producers and designers from all over the country to develop and perform the plays we select. If you would like to learn more about the work we do, consider becoming an Artist Panel Reader (see below). You can also contact Artistic Director David Winitsky to express interest and let us know why you are passionate about new Jewish plays.
JOIN THE ARTIST READER PANEL
The JPP is seeking professional artists — actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs, stage managers and more — to join our national and international reading process. This radical experiment in democratic artistic decision invests artists in their Jewish identity, centers a diverse range of voices, and embraces passionate advocacy. To learn more, contact Contest Dramaturg Heather Helinsky.
Triage Round: Pesach through July
Each of our 300 submitted plays is read by at least 2 Artist Panelists and 1 JPP Staff Member
Includes 2 Virtual Community Meetings
Semi-Finalist Round: July Through September
A select group of excellent plays are advanced for special scrutiny and an additional 3-5 reads.
Includes 2 Virtual Community Meetings
Finalist Round: Ending by the High Holidays
A small group of experienced readers digs into the final group of plays to determine cycle Finalists. Requires reading at least 10 scripts.
Includes 1 Virtual Community Meetings