How my play, SAFE, got a “safe” first production that guaranteed its future success

April 25th, 2016 donnahoke

Safe had been a long time coming. I first wrote it in 2012, put it through the Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop, where it had peer review and a staged reading, got some private dramaturgy for it, and started sending it out. I was fortunate that it was a semi-finalist for nuVoices at Actors Theatre of Charlotte and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, as well as a finalist for T. Schreiber New Works—great accolades that did nothing to further development. Winning the 2014 Todd McNerney and Naatak Playwriting Contests, and particularly the 2015 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest, garnered it three more readings, but, when I was finished with those, I didn’t feel like major script changes were necessary. I needed to see it on its feet.

Fortunately, a world premiere was scheduled for March 2016. But, what became even more fortunate was an informal “out-of-town tryout” that we’d arranged with a university. You’d think a play that had one several awards wouldn’t be much cause for worry, but there’s no such thing as a sure thing, as we discovered. Read about what we learned, and how it helped ensure that the play will have ongoing life:

Perfect Partnership: Workshopping a New Play with a University 



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Written by donnahoke


Dramatists Guild Council member and ensemble playwright-in-residence at Road Less Traveled Productions, Kilroys List and award-winning playwright Donna Hoke’s work has been seen in 40 states, and on five continents. Her full-length plays include THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR (Princess Grace semi-finalist, currently in its third year in rep in Romania), SEEDS (Artie award winner for Outstanding New Play), FLOWERS IN THE DESERT (AACT top 20 finalist), SAFE (winner of the Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest, Naatak National Playwriting Contest, and the 2015 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest), and BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART (2016 Kilroys List, Winner HRC Showcase, Firehouse Festival of New American Plays, top ten Woodward/Newman finalist); she’s also authored more than two dozen short plays that have had hundreds of productions. Donna is also a New York Times-published crossword puzzle constructor; author of Neko and the Twiggets, a children’s book; and founder/co-curator of BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short Stories. For three consecutive years, she was named Buffalo’s Best Writer by Artvoice, the only woman to ever receive the designation.

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