2020 SJCT Playwright's Festival

There are presently no open calls for submissions.

2020 has brought a lot of changes and the SJCT Playwrights Festival is changing with it! The challenges of quarantine, social distancing, and maintaining a safe and healthy community have inspired us to re-think our format, and hopefully provide audiences and authors with new opportunities. So for all of us on San Juan Island who have a passion to write and possibly more time at home than normal, the 2020 SJCT Playwrights Festival provides an opportunity to put your creative muscles to work!

Important Dates

  • June 5—Playwrights Festival Zoom Orientation, 5:30pm
  • June 18—Optional submissions due for Zoom readings of works-in-progress and Play Development feedback.
  • June 20—Zoom readings of works-in-progress (one per writer)
  • July 1—Submission deadline
  • July 15—Selections announced
  • August 1—Rehearsals begin
  • September 3-6—Playwrights Festival

Project Details

SJCT is seeking scripts 10-12 minutes in length for 1-3 actors

  • 10-12 minutes allows us to produce 4-8 plays in the festival
  • 1-3 actors allows for rehearsals with 5 people: 1-3 actors, director, and one person to read stage directions.

· Plays will be produced as readings, September 3-6, 2020.

· Audiences of up to 50 may be permitted to attend if San Juan County has moved to Phase 3 of re-opening, depending on guidelines from Public Health Officials.

· All readings will be recorded and posted online for public viewing.

· Volunteer directors and actors are encouraged to express their interest to Courtney Kessler-Jeffrey, SJCT Playwrights Festival Production Manager: court.kessler@gmail.com

· Plays will be judged blind by a panel and selected for inclusion by the Executive Artistic Director. To promote fair selection, no judge or the EAD may submit plays for consideration.

Submission Guidelines

  • Plays must be 8-12 minutes in length when read aloud, including stage directions.
  • Plays must be written by residents of San Juan Island.
  • Plays must be submitted in standard manuscript format. An excellent description of good formatting with examples is available online at: http://kcactf7.org/play/Play%20Formating%20Examples.pdf
  • Plays may include 1-3 actors.
  • Authors may submit up to two plays, but a maximum of one will be selected for inclusion in the Festival.
  • Authors will be asked to submit one blind copy of their script without any contact information for judging. The submission website is here: https://sjctplaywrightsfestival.submittable.com/submit

Selection Guidelines

Plays will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Adherence to submission guidelines.
  • Compelling Conflict. Conflict in this instance is defined as what happens when an urgent and/or important need of a character runs up against one or more major obstacles. These obstacles can be external—another person or specific circumstances. The obstacles can also be internal—the instincts or fears of the character with the need. Conflict does not have to involve hatred or violence to be compelling. It MUST involve an important need of the character and an obstacle. Some helpful questions to ask may include: “Do I understand what the character(s) is/are trying to achieve and what stands in their way? Is the need of the character and the obstacle(s) they strive to overcome clear and compelling? Do I care about these people?”
  • Quality/believability of dialogue. “Do we believe that these people, in these circumstances, sound like this when they talk to each other?”
  • Entertainment value. “What does our audience/community get out of experiencing this? Why are they engaged?”
  • Producibility for the stage. “Could this be produced on the SJCT stage with limited resources?”
  • Formatting and editing.
  • Content. There are no specific restrictions on content or language, however the play should be suitable for an adult Island audience.

From the Executive Artistic Director, regarding selection:

This year’s Playwrights Festival provides us with unique opportunities for experimentation, recording, and performance. I encourage all playwrights submitting work for the festival to be sure their plays include strong compelling character intention and realistic obstacles and/or opponents—also known as conflict. I look forward to being drawn in by your play. I want to worry about your characters, I want to wonder what’s going to happen to them. I want to be curious about their secrets and get excited about their hopes.

Keep it simple enough to be done on the SJCT stage, even though we can’t mount full productions this year. I’m excited just thinking about all the possibilities, and I hope you are too!

- Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey 


All interested actors and directors should contact Courtney Kessler-Jeffrey for information about participating.

June 5 

June 18 

  • Scripts due at noon for optional development opportunities:
  • To have a script read during the June 20th works-in-progress readings, email your script to Playwrights Festival Production Manager, Courtney Kessler-Jeffrey. (One per writer, please.) court.kessler@gmail.com
  • Direct feedback from Play Development Coordinator, Stan Matthews. stan@rainshadow.us

June 20 

  • 2:00pm Zoom readings of works-in-progress. (Jenni Merritt, Playwrights Festival Producer, facilitating.)

July 1 

  • Submissions due in Word or PDF format.
  • Zoom or socially distant auditions. (Courtney Kessler-Jeffrey, facilitating.)
  • Judging

July 15 

  • Selections announced

August 1 

  • Rehearsal drafts due
  • Casting finalized
  • Staged reading rehearsals begin
  • All readings to be performed at music stands with minimal staging
  • No more than 5 people in the rehearsal room
  • Two rehearsals allotted before the script is locked
  • Two rehearsals after the script is locked

Sept 1-2 

  • Final rehearsals with full casts

Sept 3-6 

  • Filming of readings on Whittier Stage
  •  If possible: audiences of up to 50

Sept 11 

  • Films released online as ‘Second Weekend’ of performances

Production Team

Jenni Merritt, Producer, sjidrama@gmail.com

Courtney Kessler-Jeffrey, Production Manager, court.kessler@gmail.com

Stan Matthews, Play Development Coordinator, stan@rainshadow.us

Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey, SJCT Executive Artistic Director, ead@sjctheatre.org