The New Jersey Play Lab Residencies are intensive, multi-step development processes, designed to bring the selected plays to a state of production readiness. Each Residency includes a public reading, usually close to the culmination of the process.
The New Jersey Play Lab holds one submission process per calendar year, open to any playwright based in New Jersey. From this submission process, two to four plays will be selected for Residencies over the course of the ensuing year.
As one of its core values, The New Jersey Play Lab is structured to allow us to encounter and engage with a play at all stages of development and to be truly responsive to the needs of each selected play in achieving a state of production readiness.
While some plays may benefit from an eight to ten month process, others may make that leap in as little as a few weeks. Therefore, as a measure of our dedication to meet each play where it is, the number of plays selected and the length of each Residency will be dependent on the needs of each play and will vary from year to year.
While the exact timeline of the Residencies is dependent on the plays selected, generally speaking, shorter Residencies take place in their entirety in the spring, while a longer Residency spans from spring to fall.
Who should apply?
We are currently accepting applications from playwrights based in New Jersey.
Playwrights should have a flexible schedule that allows for intense work over a time period ranging anywhere from one to two weeks, or over the course of eight to nine months.
What do we look for in a Residency playwright?
Or more accurately, what are the attributes of a playwright most suited for our Residency process? Because the way we work is grounded in craft, in questioning and conversation, and in ongoing revision, we have found that having certain experiences, skills, or innate abilities help create useful partnerships in the Residency process.
A note: We do not believe that experience should be a gatekeeping mechanism. We have worked with playwrights at many stages of their careers who have embodied these skills and attributes.
Qualities + Abilities we look for in a playwright:
- The playwright is able to use language (technical or not) to describe what exists in their play and what they still hope to capture (language of craft). They may not use the same language we use, but they have a language/understanding of craft that we can learn/share in.
- The playwright has an understanding of how they work, and a process by which they generate and revise, and is excited and energized by the prospect of rewriting/reimagining.
- The playwright has an understanding of the intended audience for the play, and whether that audience is targeted or more expansive.
- The playwright has experience participating in or auditing professional developmental processes OR demonstrates an innate understanding of a professional developmental process, OR has other applicable life or work experience.
- The playwright has a genuine desire to work in a process that thrives on collaboration and rigor, and is open to engaging in discussion around their work.
- The playwright expresses and demonstrates a commitment to the art and profession of playwriting.
What type of play should I submit?
Full-length plays in all stages of active development will be considered. We welcome early drafts. In fact, a play does not even need to be completed to be considered, as long as there is enough material to assess the potential of the work. In the case of an incomplete play as a submission, a playwright may be asked to supply a completed work as support material.
What do we look for in a Residency play?
Art is deeply personal and thus highly subjective; taste is not static, and what we feel for one play we may not feel for another seemingly similar play. The recognition of this reality is the primary reason why we have reconsidered the organizational structure of our company to embrace a more diverse curatorial approach.
But all that being said, we believe in the value of trying to be as explicit as we can about what currently guides us in selecting plays to work on. This is a living document that may shift as/or grow as we diversify our curatorial aesthetic.
This is not a checklist, nor is it a “how-to.” It does not connote empirical quality or intrinsic value judgements of any play. It is merely a collection of attributes that we have identified amongst the plays we have felt pulled towards in the past.
We are committed to artistic excellence in craft above all else, recognizing the many traditions and styles that can inhabit and inform craft*. We are interested in plays of substance that instigate thought long after it the curtain has fallen, but firmly believe that just because a play is about something important doesn’t automatically make it an important play.
We believe that well-told stories come in all voices and styles. We are drawn to work with the potential to resonate beyond its immediate story and circumstances to illuminate or explore a larger, more universal idea, and we believe that plays which reside in the gray areas of morality and impulse are the plays poised to have the greatest impact. We gravitate toward plays that are ambitious, either in an attempt at something new/challenging/complex or by excelling at an established form, as well as plays that challenge our preconceived notions and pose questions as opposed to providing answers. We are attracted to plays that have a textured language that lifts the text off of the page, a theatricality that embraces the medium of the stage (i.e. it couldn’t equally be a film), and a heart that seeks to move us by expressing something specifically or deeply human.
*A note: While we are most familiar with and experienced with plays that come from a Western/European tradition, we are also interested in working on plays that come from other playwriting traditions. We are actively building our knowledge of other cultural dramaturgies. If your play comes from or is inspired by a writing tradition we may not be familiar with, please feel free to be explicit in telling us.
For further explanation of how we define and describe “craft”, please visit our FAQ page.
How can I apply?
There is one submission process for all Residencies. Finalists for all Residencies will be selected from this same pool of submissions.
Please send the following documents as PDFs:
- a brief cover letter
- a resume
- a synopsis of the play outlining the plot in its entirety (not a summary or marketing blurb)
- a character breakdown for the play, with notation of doubling where applicable
- the development history of the play
- the first 20 pages of the play (please note if the play is currently incomplete)
Please limit your submission to one play.
Please put the name of your play and your name in the subject heading.
Please email all submission materials to firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to Covid-19, we did not hold a Residency submission process in 2020.
We expect to accept submissions in the Fall of 2021 for our 2022 Residencies.
The New Jersey Play Lab is Proud to Announce our Selections for our 2020 Residencies.
To read more about these plays, click here!
Check out our FAQ!