The NotaBle Acts Theatre Company 2016 Playwriting Competition: Rules and Regulations

As part of its commitment to developing home-grown theatre in New Brunswick, The NotaBle Acts Summer Theatre Festival is sponsoring its fifteenth annual province-wide English-language playwriting competition. Contest winners will have their work featured as part of our 2016 festival offerings, July 20th – 30th, in Fredericton, NB.

This year’s competition features four categories: Taking it to the Street, Acting Out, our Site-Specific Series, and our High School Competition. It is permissible for writers to submit a maximum of one play per category. Detailed regulations for each category follow below.

This contest is open to all current residents of New Brunswick. All plays will be blind juried and winners will be notified within 2 months of the competition deadline. The NotaBle Acts Theatre Company reserves the right to award fewer than the maximum number of prizes allotted in each category should jury members feel that the quality of submissions does not meet a minimum standard or that the festival would not be able to stage a submission adequately in the venue space allotted.

A Note on Full Length Play Submissions

Extra to our call for contest plays, please note that NotaBle Acts is happy to receive submissions of full length plays at any time for consideration for mainstage productions. Full length submissions can include works in any genre, including theatre for young audiences and musicals.

Contest submission format:

Each submission should contain one (1) cover sheet indicating the name of the playwright, full contact information (surface mail, email, phone # and fax # where applicable), and the title of the play. Submissions should clearly indicate under which category (Taking it to the Street, Acting Out, Site-Specific or High School) the entrant wishes his or her play to be considered. The play itself should contain no reference to the name of the playwright. The first page of the play should contain its title and a cast list. Subsequent pages should have the title of the play at the top of each page and pages should be numbered.

How to submit:

Three hard copies of each play should be submitted via surface mail to

The NotaBle Acts Theatre Company

717 Aberdeen Street

Fredericton, NB, E3B 1S7

Contest deadline: April 23rd, 2016—Shakespeare’s birthday. Entries must be received or postmarked no later than this date.

Questions about the contest can be directed to company Artistic Director Len Falkenstein at lfalken@unb.ca or (506) 458-7406.

Taking it to the Street

Taking it to the Street is our festival’s way of bringing short new plays by New Brunswickers to outdoor, public venues in downtown Fredericton. The winning plays will be produced during the daytime free of charge in the heart of the city. For the past several years, these plays have been performed in Barracks Square at the corner of Carleton and Queen Streets.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 4

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $100 cash prize
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an established Canadian playwright; previous dramaturges have included Don Hannah, Colleen Murphy, Jenny Munday, and Ryan Griffith
  • Active involvement in the production process (mandatory–see note below)*
  • Production of the play at the 2016 summer festival: this includes venue space, publicity, director, actors, and technical support

Length of plays: 7-10 minutes maximum

Maximum # of actors: 4

Staging comments: All plays must be suited to the style of venue described above: props and staging must be simple, such that the actors, with minimal help, can set up or dismantle the stage in approximately one minute. Because the venue will be open to any interested pedestrian traffic, the plays must be suitable for all ages (limiting allowable language and content) and to locals and tourists alike.

Playwrights are encouraged to take the particular staging realities of outdoor theatre into consideration when writing scripts for Taking it to the Streets. Works that demand a high degree of realism and subtlety in performance style, for example, are not always adaptable to outdoor conditions. Similarly, scripts that call for multiple scenes and locations within the ten minute time limit can pose difficulties.

Acting Out

Acting Out builds on the festival’s mandate to develop promising new English-language playwrights in the province. This competition seeks one-act plays to be presented at the festival as either workshopped productions or staged readings.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 4

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $200 cash prize
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an established Canadian playwright; previous dramaturges have included Don Hannah, Colleen Murphy, Jenny Munday, and Ryan Griffith
  • Active involvement in the production process (mandatory—see note below)*
  • A workshopped production or reading of the play at the 2016 summer festival: this includes dramaturgy, venue space, publicity, director, and actors.

Length of plays: 30-50 minutes

Maximum # of actors: 4

Staging Comments: The winning plays will be presented as workshopped productions or readings, part of the festival’s main stage offerings. The winners will be featured as double-bills, with each show being presented in a single evening of theatre with another winner. Accordingly, required staging for the plays should be relatively simple and take into account the need for quick set-up and strike. Keep in mind that many rehearsals will take place in alternate spaces, and not only in the venue where the plays will be performed, meaning that the plays must not be overly dependent upon venue. Also keep in mind that technical requirements such as sound and lighting design should be kept minimal and flexible.

Site-Specific Series

Our popular Site-Specific Series, first staged in 2011, brings new plays to unconventional public locations in downtown Fredericton.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 3

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $150 prize
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an established Canadian playwright; previous dramaturges have included Don Hannah, Colleen Murphy, Jenny Munday, and Ryan Griffith
  • Active involvement in the production process (mandatory—see note below)*
  • Production of the play at the 2016 summer festival: this includes venue space, publicity, director, actors, and technical support

Length of plays: 15-30 minutes

Maximum # of actors: 3

Parameters: Submissions to the site-specific series should include either the script for a site-specific production at a proposed location, a proposal for a site-specific production, or (ideally) both (that is, a script plus explanatory notes and an overview of the work). Scripts/proposals may indicate some flexibility in terms of performance location or be adaptable for different locations, but ultimately the work should “use” the location in an artistically interesting way and be “about” that place in some way. Since the feasibility of various locations may not be knowable until various practicalities and legalities can be investigated, proposals and tentative scripts are acceptable for this category, and plays to be staged may not be determined until after other contest winners are announced. NotaBle Acts reserves the right to cancel productions in the Site-Specific series should they prove unstageable for any reason.

Plays in this category will need to be simple in terms of staging requirements, relying on minimal technical support. Any works proposed for busy public locations will need to be acceptable in terms of content for performance in such locations and observe city by-laws. Plays will be judged on the basis of quality of writing, artistic innovation and interest, and various practicalities, including ease of staging, legalities, and how locations for various shows may work together to create a promenade theatre production.

High School Competition

A new addition to the NotaBle Acts Playwriting Competition in 2014, this category is open to high school student playwrights only.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 1

The winning playwright will receive:

  • $100 cash prize
  • Free tickets to the 2016 NotaBle Acts Summer Theatre Festival
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an established Canadian playwright; previous dramaturges have included Don Hannah, Colleen Murphy, Jenny Munday, and Ryan Griffith
  • Active involvement in the production process (mandatory—see note below)*
  • A workshopped reading* of the play at the 2016 summer festival: this includes dramaturgy, venue space, publicity, director, and actors
  • A full production of the play at a later date

Length of plays: 20-30 minutes

Maximum # of actors: 4

Staging Comments: The content in the winning plays must be school appropriate and cannot feature any copyrighted material such as full songs, etc. The winning plays will be produced as workshopped readings as part of the festival’s main stage offerings: the play will be assigned a dramaturge and director and will be cast for a full in-character reading with minimal stage directions and lighting effects. In the fall of 2016 or spring of 2017, the plays will also be cast, directed, and produced in full by NotaBle Acts.

* In the case of every play chosen for presentation at the festival, it is essential that the winning playwright be accessible in May and June for early revisions and able to attend rehearsals and productions in July. The winning playwrights need not be in Fredericton for this entire time period but should be accessible via phone or email when they are not.

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