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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Studio Roanoke play submission guidelines

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Studio Roanoke, a small theatre dedicated to new plays and the people who create them, is committed to making Roanoke, VA, a nationally recognized ignition point for new play development. We accept independent and agency-represented submissions year round for consideration in our regular season of new works and two reading series, the Workshop Reading Series and Guerrilla Playhouse. We proudly abide by the Dramatists Guild of America's Bill of Rights.


Our performance venue can be arranged either as an intimate proscenium space that seats approximately 45 patrons or as a thrust space that accommodates up to 60. The stage is relatively small (roughly 28’ wide by 15’ deep), with ample backstage space, but no wings or flies. There is a balcony above and upstage of the main performance area that is frequently used as an additional performance area. The plays are performed by local non-Equity actors and directed and designed by professional staff and invited guest artists.

Preference is given to scripts with relatively small casts. Submissions of scripts with 12 or more characters should include a proposed doubling plan with the character list. All productions are minimal, with budgets for props, lights, set and costumes intentionally limited (e.g., generally $500 for our mainstage productions). As such, scripts relying on elaborate/expensive production demands tend to diminish our likelihood of selecting them for production. Our goal is to focus on the writing and the script’s inherent theatricality rather than on material spectacle or design elements. We hope to give playwrights an opportunity to see and hear their plays on stage so they can focus on developing the script for future, more elaborate productions.


We’re interested in full-length and one-act plays of any style or genre except musicals or works targeted primarily toward children. Any adaptations must be from work in the public domain or be accompanied by proof that the playwright has secured the rights to the source material. Since our focus is on developing new work, we tend to shy away from scripts that have been published and/or received multiple previous productions...though this isn’t an ironclad rule. We’re particularly interested in works with a strong narrative through-line and compelling characters, yet we encourage innovative, non-traditional plot structures, new approaches to characterization and theatrical use of the space.

While the playwright is welcome in rehearsals and performance, we are typically unable to provide accommodations or to reimburse travel expenses. If the playwright is unable to be in attendance, we will communicate via email and phone to the extent practicable to allow the writer to have approval of production elements and creative communication with the director and design teams.

Main Stage: Full-length plays or a full evening’s worth of related one-acts. Playwrights whose plays we select for production as part of our Main Stage season are granted a 12-performance run and paid royalties.

Workshop Reading Series: This new series, which replaces our former Lunchbox Series, provides an opportunity for playwrights of new scripts to hear their work performed aloud before an audience and to receive developmental feedback from audiences and artists. Works developed in this series will be given strong consideration for inclusion in our Main Stage at a later stage in their development. These seated readings are offered to our audiences on the fourth Sundays of alternate months, beginning in January 2011. Plays should be complete full-length works or a full evening's worth of related one-acts. Playwrights are offered a $25 royalty for the performance.

Guerrilla Playhouse: This series often presents more experimental short pieces (30-60 minutes) ranging from solo performances, darker material, works involving audience interaction and/or participation, and plays with a rock-n-roll sensibility. Guerrilla Playhouse runs on the second Sunday nights every month, and the theatrical performances are paired with a live set from an invited musical artist or group. Playwrights are offered a royalty of 20 percent of the door for a one-night performance. To see Director of Guerrilla Programming Ben R. Williams' specific guidelines, please click here.

Shows in our Main Stage and Workshop Reading series receive a post-show talkback moderated by a member of our resident artistic staff. The Studio’s resident dramaturg and/or literary manager provide dramaturgical notes in the program for Main Stage productions to spur deeper consideration of the script by the audience. Playwrights who are able to attend the production are invited on stage following the performance to join the discussion and ask or answer any questions that arise. Playwrights have found our moderated post-show discussions particularly valuable as they further develop the script.

Studio Roanoke designates its productions as developmental workshops, allowing playwrights to offer their works as “world premieres” to other theatres after their appearance at the Studio. We place no future financial obligations on playwrights whose work is developed on our stage, though, of course, we certainly welcome contributions from playwrights whose experiences at Studio Roanoke have contributed to any fame or fortune they achieve afterwards. We do request, however, that playwrights premiering works on our stage require that the Studio is credited as a contributor to the development of the script in publications and/or program text associated with subsequent productions.


To save printing, copying and mailing expenses (not to mention trees), we now accept only electronic submissions. Please submit your work in standard play script format—you may download Samuel French’s Formatting Guidelines here. We prefer to receive your script as a PDF file if possible; otherwise, we will accept an MS Word document. Include as part of your script a title page with the title, your name and your contact information, and a separate page with character descriptions and setting information. Save the file with your last name and the title of the play with no spaces or underscores (e.g. ShakespeareJuliusCaesar.pdf).

As a separate document accompanying your script, please include a cover letter with a brief playwright bio and brief synopsis of your play (each 100 words or less), and a concise description of the play’s prior production history (if applicable). Save this file with your last name and the word “cover” (e.g. ShakespeareCover.pdf).

Include these two separate documents as attachments in your email. Send Main Stage and Workshop Reading Series submissions to literary@studioroanoke.org; Guerrilla Playhouse submissions should be sent to gardenback@gmail.com. In the subject line or body of the e-mail, please indicate for which series you wish to be considered (Main Stage, Workshop, or Guerrilla).

The literary staff will respond as quickly as possible to confirm receipt of your submission, and then again once we’ve had a chance to review your material. Like most literary departments at American theatres, however, we’re understaffed and over-worked, so please allow at least eight to ten weeks before expecting a response to your submission.

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