UNION – Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, is accepting submissions for the 19th annual Premiere Play Festival beginning Friday, September 1. This yearly competition for unproduced scripts offers developmental and production opportunities to up to four playwrights with strong ties to the greater metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware). Previous winners of the Premiere Play Festival have included Dominique Morisseau, Vincent Delaney, Tammy Ryan, Guillermo Reyes, Keith Josef Adkins, Kathyrn Grant, Craig Garcia, Erik Gernand, Gino Diiorio and Erin Breznitsky.
“The Play Festival continues to be the heart of Premiere Stages, where playwrights can explore their work in a highly focused, nurturing environment,” stated John J. Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. “We are proud to have launched a large canon of new works which, through publication and subsequent production, continue to challenge us to examine issues that shape who we are and who we will become.”
Premiere will accept submissions September 1 through November 1, 2023, and select four finalists in Spring 2024; any submissions received before or 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 at premierestagesatkean.submittable.com/ submit/ (this link is also available through Premiere’s website). There is no fee to enter the competition. Complete submission guidelines are available at premierestagesatkean.com/play-festival/ guidelines/.
All finalists will receive one-day developmental readings, scheduled for Spring 2024 with a winner and runner-up to be announced in Summer 2024. The festival winner will be awarded a $3,000 advance and receive a full Equity production in September 2025; the runner-up will receive $1,500 and an Equity 29-hour staged reading. The remaining finalists will each receive an honorarium of $1,000. In 2022, Premiere Stages received 701 submissions to the 2023 Festival. 40 Semi-Finalists were announced in May 2023 and four finalists went on to have staged readings at Enlow Recital Hall in June 2023.
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 partners with other organizations and theatres to extend the profile and life of the works developed.
In the eighteen seasons since its founding, the Premiere Play Festival has received over 7,200 submissions and developed more than eighty-five plays. Multiple plays produced at Premiere have been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association, selected for agency representation, and/or been published by TRW Plays, Concord/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, internationally and at regional theatres across the country.
All 2024 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. All samples and synopses are considered; the winners of the 2022 and 2023 Premiere Play Festival were first submitted as samples.
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 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, Carole Shaffer-Koros and Robert Koros and ExxonMobil Foundation, The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, The Union County HEART Grant and through the generous support of individual patrons and local organizations. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit JerseyArts.com for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.
Premiere Stages is committed to producing topical plays and interactive programs that reflect people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, national origins, nationalities, ancestry, religious groups, gender expression or identities, sexual orientation, political beliefs, ages, abilities and disabilities.