2021 Playwriting Competition

Rules and Regulations

As part of its commitment to developing home-grown theatre in New Brunswick, The NotaBle Acts Theatre Company is sponsoring its twentieth annual province-wide English-language playwriting competition. Contest winners will have their work featured as part of our 2021 festival, July 22nd – 31st, in Fredericton, NB.

This year’s competition features five categories: Taking it to the Streets, Acting Out, our Site-Specific Series, and our Middle School and High School Playwriting Competitions. It is permissible for eligible writers to submit a maximum of one play per category. Please read and follow the detailed regulations for each category below.

This contest is open to all current residents of New Brunswick. Winners will be selected and notified within 2 months of the competition deadline. NotaBle Acts reserves the right to award fewer than the maximum number of prizes allotted in each category.

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 by New Brunswick playwrights at any time for consideration for mainstage productions. Full length submissions can include works in any genre, including theatre for young audiences and musicals. Main stage submissions should be made to the same email as contest plays.

Contest submission format:

Submissions should be sent electronically and include both your script(s) and a cover letter indicating the following:

-name of playwright

-full contact information (surface mail, email, and phone number)

-title of each play

-the category (Taking it to the Streets, Acting Out, Site-Specific, Middle School, or High School) to which it is being submitted.

-tell us a bit about yourself (including how you identify, should you choose) and your play. This can include some of the following: a bit about your background, your previous experience as a writer and/or in theatre, how your play originated and what it means to you. (Maximum: one page).

With your scripts, please include the title and a cast list on the first page. Please make sure your pages are numbered.

How to submit:

Send your cover letter and each script as a separate document by email attachment to nbacts@unb.ca.

Documents should be titled in the following format:

Cover Letter: FirstAndLastName_CoverLetter/PlayTitle.extension

Play: FirstAndLastName_/PlayTitle.extension

Documents should be in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format.

Contest deadline (Taking it to the Streets, Acting Out and Site-Specific Series): April 30th, 2021 at 11:59 PM.

Contest deadline (Middle and High School Contests only): May 28, 2021, at 11:59 PM.

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 Streets

Taking it to the Streets is our festival’s way of bringing short new plays by New Brunswickers to outdoor, public venues in downtown Fredericton. This category for 10-minute scripts is a great way to try your hand at playwriting if you’re new to it! The winning plays will be produced free of charge in the heart of the city.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 4

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $125 cash prize
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an experienced and established Canadian playwright.
  • Active involvement in the production process (mandatory–see note below)*
  • Production of the play at the 2021 summer festival

Length of plays: 7-10 minutes maximum

Maximum # of actors: 4

Staging comments: All plays must be suited to outdoor daytime performance: props and staging must be simple, such that the stage can be set up or struck in one minute or less. Lighting cues will not be possible, but sound cues and music are permissible. Because performances will be free and the venue open to all passersby, the plays must be suitable for all ages (limiting allowable language and content).

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 best suited to outdoor conditions. Similarly, scripts that call for multiple scenes and locations are also not best suited for our simple staging conditions.

As part of their editing process before submitting, playwrights are strongly encouraged to time their plays by reading them out loud at the pace they expect them to be performed, allowing pauses where appropriate and for necessary stage action, to ensure their scripts fall within the ten minute maximum allowed time.

Site-Specific Series

Our Site-Specific Series, Street Scenes, stages new plays that are written about and staged at unique locations in downtown Fredericton. Typically we will select 2-3 scripts to be produced, with the plays staged back to back and the audience moving between locations to watch each show. Playwrights are encouraged to investigate a space they are interested in and tell a story that is uniquely suitable to and/or about that place. Scripts will be judged for both their content and the creativity brought to their use of location. While not feeling bound by them, playwrights should take into consideration challenges involved in their choice of location (ie. noise, sufficient space and adequate sightlines for audience members, etc.) and NotaBle Acts advises some worthy scripts may not be possible to stage or may need to be modified due to technical, safety, or legal concerns.

NEW for this year: with pandemic conditions likely to still be in effect in July, all scripts selected for the Site-Specific series must be stageable outdoors in a downtown location where the audience can comfortably be physically distanced while still able to hear and see the play.  Some possible locations could include

  • The Green
  • The Sculpture Garden beside the Beaverbrook Art Gallery
  • Parking lots in the downtown core
  • The old burial ground on Brunswick Street
  • Alleyways off Queen Street

If you have questions about whether a location you are thinking of might be suitable, please feel free to contact us for advice.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 3

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $150 prize
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an experienced and established Canadian playwright.
  • Active involvement in the production process (mandatory—see note below)*
  • Production of the play at the 2021 summer festival: this includes venue space, publicity, director, actors, and technical support

Length of plays: 15 minutes minimum to 30 minutes maximum

Maximum # of actors: 3

Additonal Staging Notes: Submitted scripts 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 certain locations may not be knowable until various issues can be investigated, our play choices for this category may not be determined until after other contest winners are announced.

Plays for Street Scenes will need to be simple in terms of staging requirements, relying on minimal technical support. Any works proposed for busy public locations must be suitable for all ages (limiting allowable language and content).

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 workshop productions.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 2

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $300 cash prize
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an experienced and established Canadian playwright.
  • Active involvement in the production process (mandatory—see note below)*
  • A workshop production of the play at the 2021 summer festival

*Note: Up to 4 runners-up may be selected from scripts submitted to this category to receive public readings as part of this year’s festival lineup.

Length of plays: 30-60 minutes

Maximum # of actors: 4

Staging Comments: The winning plays will be presented as workshop productions, part of the festival’s main stage offerings. The winners will be featured as a double-bill, with each show being presented in a single evening of theatre with the other 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 for set, sound, and lighting design should be kept minimal and flexible.

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

Middle School Competition

NotaBle Acts is proud to reach out to our province’s youngest aspiring writers through our playwriting competition for students in New Brunswick Middle Schools.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 2

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $100 cash prize
  • Free tickets to the 2020 NotaBle Acts Summer Theatre Festival
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an established Canadian playwright
  • Active involvement in the production process
  • A public reading of your play at the 2021 summer festival

Length of plays: 5-15 minutes

Maximum # of actors: 4

Script Guidelines: The content in the winning plays must be school appropriate and cannot feature any copyrighted material such as full songs, etc. Set and lighting demands should be simple. Plays can be on any topic and in any style.

* To be eligible to win the contest, playwrights be available to attend the theatre festival, July 22-August 1 in Fredericton. 

Deadline and submission procedures:

See below following High School contest details.

High School Competition

This category is open to New Brunswick high school student playwrights.

Maximum # of winners to be selected: 2

Each winning playwright will receive:

  • $100 cast prize
  • Free tickets to the 2020 NotaBle Acts Summer Theatre Festival
  • Script support (dramaturgy) from an established Canadian playwright
  • Active involvement in the production process
  • A public reading of your play at the 2021 summer festival.

Length of plays: 10-30 minutes

Maximum # of actors: 4

Script Guidelines: The content in the winning plays must be school appropriate and cannot feature any copyrighted material such as full songs, etc. Set and lighting demands should be simple. Plays can be on any topic and in any style.

* To be eligible to win the contest, playwrights be available to attend the theatre festival, July 22-August 1 in Fredericton.