Ever sit in the theatre watching a festival like New Ideas and wonder about the process? Such as – how did the producers select the scripts? How were the directors chosen? I asked one of the co-producers of New Ideas 2012, Carolyn Zapf, and this here’s what she told me. By the way, the call for scripts went out on August 2, with a submission deadline of September 15. The scripts – with nothing to identify the playwrights – were then read “blind” by a committee that did not learn the writers’ identities until final selection was made.
Q: How many scripts were received this year? How did it compare to previous years’ submissions?
A: We received 122 submissions this year. It was about the same as last year.
Q: This is the first year that scripts were accepted via e-mail – did that increase the number of submissions?
A: No, email did not increase the number of submissions, but it was much easier to organize the work of the reading committee and we had more time for discussion of the scripts. We were also able to share scripts with the chosen directors using google docs before the Creative Exchange*, which facilitated the process.
Q: This is the first year that a reading fee ($10) has been charged – do you think that made a difference in the quantity and/or quality of the plays submitted?
A: It did not make a difference in the quantity of the plays, but I think that we had a higher quality of submissions this year. I don’t think we can draw the conclusion that the quality of submissions was caused by the fee. But the fee will allow us to increase the NIF budget. We have expenses such as insurance for any Equity members, food budget for workshops, readings, and opening nights, etc.
Q: Where did the submissions come from this year?
A: In total, we received about 30 plays [out of a total 122] from the US — from New York and area, Boston and Cambridge area, Pittsburg, and various cities in California. We received 1 play from the UK. We received several plays from Quebec (Montreal area), from Alberta (Lethbridge and Calgary) and B.C. (Kamloops). Of the 15 chosen scripts, (12 productions; 3 staged readings) we have chosen for NIF 2012, several are by out-of-town writers:
Our Eliza by Megan Coles (St. John’s, Nfld).
Lovers’ Flight by Joel Fishbane (Montreal, Quebec)
Less Than a Second by Gerry MacBride (Peterborough, Ont.)
In Their Glory [Reading] by Eugenie Carabastsos (New York)
It All Leads To The Lemon Scene by Pam Winfrey (California)
Everything Blows Away by Kelly DuMar (Massachussetts).
NOTE: Another play by Kelly DuMar, ENVIA! was imaginatively staged in Alumnae Theatre’s lobby during NIF 2010. Joel Fishbane previously wrote In The Yichud Room, produced in NIF 2004.
* “Creative Exchange” = the director/writer meet & greet – think Speed Dating! I’ll cover this in a later post.