June 25th, 2013 donnahoke


 If you don’t know what RIPP: Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project, please click here to get some context before reading. I have a feeling not everyone is doing this, as I keep getting emails from playwrights wanting to send me their plays or asking how to get produced which, again, is not the point of RIPP.




We started our Locally Grown program in 2011 as a way to deepen the relationships we already had with DC-area playwrights; to meet and get to know more members of that community; and to make good on our belief that ‘Locally Grown’ work deserved a production on our main stage.  Jacqueline E. Lawton’s play, The Hampton Years, came out of this initiative.


“The idea for the play was hatched over drinks and conversation in the neighborhood of another reading series Theater J was participating in—a series of plays presented at the Historic Lincoln Theatre that looked at the specific and nuanced relationship between blacks and Jews. Jacqueline was a great friend to the theater—she attended plays here, had appeared on panels, and had written several short plays for us in the past for our 5×5 evenings (five-minute plays that respond to a main stage production). She was a writer we wanted to know better, a writer whose value system and work ethic matched our own, and we loved the passion, talent and skill she brought to her work.


“Three and some years after that very first conversation, The Hampton Years, has opened to wonderful acclaim in the last slot of our main stage season. The journey of this play could not have happened from a blind submission, and it also didn’t come from a pitch from a New York agent, or out of a trip to a fancy new play development program. It happened in our neighborhood, born out of artistic relationships that had already proved fruitful, and that lent themselves to further exploration. This is really how I see plays being ‘made’ in our future.”


My nutshell takeaway: I’ve alluded to this before: There will always be those playwrights who become household names through a combination of the right education, the right timing, and the right luck.  But with so many playwrights vying for so few production slots (Impact Artistic Director Melissa Hillman estimates 100:1), I agree with Serotsky that plays are going to be grown organically, and locally. Notice how many submission opportunities are limited geographically.  In Western New York, the theater that produces the most original work aligns solely with local playwrights, and favors plays that reflect our community.  Local theaters are playwrights’ best friends; if you are truly a part of the community, they want to work with you. You might be surprised at how much.


Please leave your comments here, so everybody can see them. Thank you!


Until next time,




  1. 1 Tom Cavanaugh said at 11:16 am on July 1st, 2013:

    GREAT INSIGHT!!! Yeah, “homegrown” is a big part of the scene now… I found as soon as I left NYC that opportunities opened in LEAPS & BOUNDS what I couldn’t do in 12 years of trying to bust through the NYC Literati…I got done in a MATTER OF MONTHS west of the Hudson River, especially when I changed my area code to 818 !!!!

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