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FULL-LENGTH PLAY 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 14, 2024. Plays submitted after this date will be held for the next cycle.

*** NB: As of May 1, 2024, we are reading for the 14th Annual Jewish Playwriting Contest. ***

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).

Making Jewish Theater in the Post 10/7 World

Many folks have asked the JPP how we are responding to the Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza. The simple answer is, we are grieving. Grieving for the loss of life, for the vitriol and hatred, for the sad distance we feel between where we are now and a dreamed-for state of peace and justice and safety for everyone. 

But we also know that this – the attacks, the war, the response, the protests, the politics, all of it – is a massive part of the Jewish story right now. 

The JPP is not a political organization, we are a platform for everyone who wants to tell a great Jewish story. And that story is very complex. 

We have surveyed artists in the U.S, Israel and abroad, and many have expressed the feeling that it is too soon to write the stories of this war. We respect that, and we will be here when they are ready. 

We know that others feel this issue is too critical NOT to make art about. We respect that, and are ready to put our signature process of Artistic Democracy to work, letting 100+ artists and thousands of community members help us decide what makes a compelling theatrical response.

We also know that theater is not a rapid-response art form, and that many writers have amazing Jewish plays that they started working on before 10/7 that aren’t about the war at all. We respect that, and we need amazing stories embracing the full breadth of Jewish life. 

We can tell you these things:

  • we will not amplify broadsides, or anything that speaks from a place of hatred
  • we will continue to believe theater is a radical empathetic act
  • we will continue to welcome artists of all backgrounds, denominations, faiths, creeds, ethnicities, and other ideals
  • we will still only be able to choose 6 Finalist plays, and our choices will reflect the diversity of the Jewish conversation. 

So we invite writers to find their own space and to give us the opportunity to share it with them. We invite the intrepid and the reflective and the passionate and the caring to tell the stories that are lodged in their hearts right now.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Artistic Director David Winitsky at any time. 

ELIGIBILITY

The following must be true of a submitted play or musical:

  1. It contains significant Jewish themes, characters, content, or points of view.
  2. 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.)
  3.  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.)
  4.  It has not had a full production in the NY Metro region or a major regional theater (LORT C or above).
  5.  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.

FORMAT

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.

MUSICALS

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.

DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

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.

INTENTION (KAVANAH)

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.

 

CONTENT PREFERENCES

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?

(See EllaRose Chary’s THE WRONG QUESTION or Dana Leslie Goldstein’s GO DOWN, MOSES).

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 Ilhan Omar to college campuses around the country, some very smart people are saying some very troubling things. How do we find common ground with our progressive colleagues?
 

SELECTION PROCESS

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.

REPEAT SUBMISSIONS

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.