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Thursday, March 17, 2022



Deadline: March 20, 2022 11:59PM EDT

Every other year Clubbed Thumb invites playwrights to propose plays inspired by a particular prompt. The application is open to all, and read blind. The winning proposal(s) receive (or split) a $15,000 award and two years of development support. We are pleased to announce our next Biennial Commission.

In high school, we put on Noel Coward plays with our friend Mellie Anderson in Strauss Hall—an old library room in Milton, Massachusetts. Mellie eventually moved to Maine where she has been a longtime participant in her local theater scene. She is also an avid Clubbed Thumb fan, and helped us concoct the 2022 Biennial Commission: Your Community Theater.

For this commission, we invite you to write using the constraints common for community theaters – smaller, non-professional theaters operating under specific constraints, in which many or most of the “makers” are not full-time theater artists. But think: Community theater with a Clubbed Thumb aesthetic. Our hope is that these commissions inspire unusual stories, unusually told for small theaters outside of big cities, all across the United States.

It should have short scenes – no one lasting longer than 15 minutes. (It could be a collection of very short plays, so long as they are cumulative.)
No one ever speaks more than three sentences in a row.
There should only be three stage directions.
Only employ language and situations that you would be comfortable asking a five-year-old or an eighty-year-old to hear, speak and/or enact.

It’s helpful for much of the casting to be flexible, so the roles can be filled with whomever is in a given community.
That said, the majority of these parts should be for or be able to be played by Women+.
There should be parts for many people of many ages – with roles fairly evenly dispersed (think ensemble instead of star vehicles).

It should take place in a slightly heightened, non-naturalistic world.
The design should not require a lot of money to accomplish, nor should it assume that the play will be performed in a neutral space. It should invite a creative, crafty display of virtuosity.

Your proposed play should involve the solving of a mystery – but not a murder or violent crime.
It should reckon with idealism in an honest or unexpected way.
It should feature a moment of mockery gone wrong.
It must also contain at least four of the following ingredients:
– A loud, delightful, robust cackle of laughter
– A thank-you note or a weekly call
– Unusual female (physical) strength
– Throwing heirlooms into the sea
– An island or a garden or both
– A squandered gift
– A brief reenactment of part of an episode of Columbo
– The phrase “good red herring” or “get the cake” or both

And please consider the general parameters of a Clubbed Thumb play.

(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


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 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.


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

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