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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

OPEN-APPLICATION COMMISSIONING OPPORTUNITY FOR WRITERS OF COLOR

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Like our Biennial Commission, this application asks that writers respond to a series of prompts with a ten-page piece of initial writing and a one-page proposal for a full-length play, which will be read without the readers’ knowledge of the writer’s identity. One or more writers will be awarded (or will share) a $15,000 commission. Unlike the Biennial Commission, which is open to all writers, submissions for this award are open only to writers of color.

For this commission, Clubbed Thumb is interested in plays that employ alternative structures and shapes. We ask you to consider one of five alternative play shapes–landscape, spider web, nesting dolls, circle, double helix–and craft a proposal for how you will employ that play shape to best suit the story you wish to tell. This is subjective, of course, and meant to trigger the imagination, not be academic analysis. Some examples of what we mean:

Landscape: in which we learn about the world through accumulation
Our Town by Thornton Wilder is structured a bit like a landscape painting–we are introduced to everything all at once and Wilder zooms in and out of the landscape in order to tell the story.
Other examples might include: Wilder Gone, God’s Ear, Mlima’s Tale

Spider Web: in which we learn through disparate scenes that seem disconnected but are linked at odd angles and actually cohere around a central theme or argument
Booty Candy by Robert O’Hara could be seen as a spider web play–at first each scene feels like a vignette exploring a discrete idea, however, as more and more divergent worlds are explored we begin to realize that each world is connected in exploration of a single theme.
Other examples might include: Lear (Young Jean Lee), Doll’s House Pt. 2, Of Government

Nesting Dolls: in which we learn through analogies and juxtaposition
Mr Burns, a Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn might be seen as a play shaped like a set of nesting dolls–each act is its own entity and the dramatic movement lies in building out from what came before.
Other examples might include: Fairview, An Octoroon, Barbecue

Circle: in which we learn through reflection
Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes might be a circle play. The most important dramatic events happen in the middle; act one leads us into these events and act three deals with the aftermath; the end of the play reflects themes that are present in the beginning of the play.
Other examples might include: A Map of Virtue, The Aliens, Father Comes Home From the Wars

Double Helix: in which we learn through thematic associations between the narrative threads
Stop Kiss by Diana Son could be a double helix play – the story is told in two threads simultaneously–what happened before and what happened after the inciting event–with thematic links between these narratives.
Other examples might include: Midsummer Night’s Dream (might be a triple helix), We are Proud to Present…, The Tomb of King Tot

You are also welcome to propose your own unconventional play shape. Should you choose to do that, be rigorous and make the case for it.

Your proposed play should also include the following:
1) At least three characters in every scene (no two character scenes)
2) Some simultaneous talking
3) Some found or repurposed text
4) A character pretending to be someone else
5) No indoor spaces

(Many thanks to Erin Courtney for developing this prompt with us.)


TO APPLY: SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING THROUGH THE FORM BELOW
(this is a BLIND submission, see notes below)

1) A one-page letter of intent describing your proposed project;
2) 10 exploratory pages from the proposed project (either contiguous or from different sections of the proposed play);
3) One of your finished plays, for reference;
4) Your resume

IMPORTANT NOTES

No names please — on the letter, the 10 page sample or the finished play for reference, or in any file names. The panel reads all submissions BLIND — the only place your name should appear is on the info form and on your resume.

The letter of intent should briefly map out the proposed piece, how you will use the chosen shape to tell the story and, if need be, orient the reader to the excerpt’s relationship to the whole. You needn’t explain or repeat anything that your 10 page sample makes clear. Then give us an idea of where the piece is coming from and where you think you want to go with it.

We ask you to include one of your finished plays for reference. Note (where prompted in the form) any relationship or similarities the complete play has to the proposed project, and recommend 10 pages for us to start with.

One last thing: this is a commission for Clubbed Thumb. So look around our website at our guidelines and production history for reference, if they are not familiar to you. Many of our plays have been published individually or in our anthology, “Funny, Strange, Provocative”, and are widely available to read.

DEADLINE: MONDAY, OCTOBER 8TH, 11:59PM EST

The proposals will be read and adjudicated over the course of the fall, and the commission(s) awarded by the end of 2018. The $15,000 commission — which might be split between writers if the panel so elects — will be paid out in three installments every six months, with the first installment following the signing of a contract. Send questions to info[at]clubbedthumb.org

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