How SCR Identifies New Plays and Playwrights


by 
Beth Fhaner
 | Aug 29, 2017
Stack of Scripts

At SCR, the Literary Department often is asked what the theatre looks for in a play. Although there is no simple answer, the literary team frequently is drawn to plays that use language in a distinctive manner—whether to generate energy, mystery, humor, musicality, power or a combination of these elements. In short: plays that tell a good story and belong first and foremost on a stage.

In terms of how playwrights are discovered, the literary team casts a wide net, and the process involves an enormous amount of reading including, on average, approximately 500 scripts a year. Team members also attend new-play festivals across the country, which offer a great way to discover new playwrights—often ​writers whose works are included in the festival are there, but other playwrights are in attendance, too. SCR’s Artistic Director Marc Masterson travels frequently; so do Associate Artistic Director John Glore and Literary Director Kimberly Colburn, who both take annual trips to New York City to keep SCR connected to the national theatre scene. SCR accepts full-length submissions from agents, and is one of the few remaining major theatres in the country that accepts 10-page samples from anyone (legendarily, that is how Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit was discovered, but it’s also led to a few commissions and relationships since then).

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​Playwright Rachel Bonds

As for rising playwright Rachel Bonds, whose Curve of Departure (Sept. 24-Oct. 15) was commissioned by SCR, the theatre discovered her work when her agent sent an out-of-the-ordinary email about her writing and attached three plays to it (typically, an agent only sends one play as an introduction). The fact that Bonds’ agent sent three plays, and spoke so passionately about her work, caught the attention of SCR’s literary department. The team read a few of her plays and quickly fell in love with her writing, which led to SCR producing Five Mile Lake and then commissioning her, which resulted in Curve of Departure. Needless to say, we’re thrilled to have Bonds return to SCR with her new play for our 2017-18 Season.

So, in a nutshell: when it comes to discovering new plays and playwrights, a combination of factors leads to success. From casting a wide net to reading a huge volume of scripts to traveling to new-play festivals and more, SCR’s literary team is committed year-round to finding the best work for the theatre’s audiences. As any theatre enthusiast who has ever attended our Pacific Playwrights Festival can attest, the team does a fantastic job in discovering new gems to bring to the stage.

Learn more and buy tickets to Curve of Departure.

Learn more about SCR’s 2017-18 Season.