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Susan Louise O'Connor and Amy Staats in 2014 Play Festival winner Janice Underwater by Tom Matthew Wolfe, directed by Jade King Carroll. Photo by Mike Peters.


Premiere Stages is committed to supporting emerging and regional playwrights by developing and producing new plays. Through our Play Festival script competition, Premiere Stages offers developmental opportunities to four playwrights. We provide playwrights with an encouraging and focused environment in which they can develop their work through discussions, rehearsals, sit-down readings, staged readings, and full Equity productions.

Beginning October 1, 2016 through January 1, 2017, Premiere Stages will accept submissions of unproduced new plays from playwrights affiliated with the greater metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania). There is no fee to enter. All plays submitted to the festival are evaluated by a professional panel of theatre producers, dramaturgs, playwrights, scholars and publishers.

Four of the submitted plays will be selected for staged readings with Equity casts in March 2017 and awarded cash prizes. Following the March readings, the winner of Play Festival is selected for a full production during Premiere Stages' 2017 mainstage season and awarded $2000; a second play will be selected for a 29-hour Staged Reading and be awarded $750, and the two other finalist writers will be awarded $500.

At Premiere Stages, we pride ourselves on a uniquely accelerated process in which plays we find particularly promising are developed and fully produced within a year of submission. In many professional theatres the time span between meeting a writer, staging a reading and producing the play can be years. At Premiere Stages, immediately following the Spring Readings, two plays enter an intensive development phase. Playwrights work with a director, dramaturg, and design team to develop the play for a staged workshop or full production only a few months later. When we find a writer we believe in, our Play Festival process allows Premiere Stages to fully commit the time, talent, and resources necessary to share their work with a broad regional audience.

Premiere Stages’ productions offer playwrights the chance to see their work fully realized on stage. We hope, however, that the plays developed at Premiere will go on to subsequent productions throughout the country. Because of this, playwrights whose scripts we produce retain the coveted “World Premiere” brand on their plays. Premiere Stages also strives to facilitate relationships between playwrights and other theatre professionals who we think will respond to their work. Plays are consistently reviewed by the New York Times and scouted by major publishing houses. Multiple Festival plays have been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association.

Premiere Stages will accept full scripts from literary agents or theatre professionals familiar with our work. All other writers are required to submit a 10-page script sample and synopsis. Please review full submission requirements and guidelines here.


"As I now seek future opportunities for The Beautiful Dark, I do so on the inertia of this well-received production. I look back on this experience with immense gratitude for the generosity, both artistic and personal, that I received during my collaboration with Premiere Stages; I am a stronger playwright because of it." - Erik Gernand, Winner of the 2013 Premiere Stages Play Festival