July 8th, 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.




“TADA! produces original musicals that I, as artistic director, commission from playwrights, lyricists, and composers. Sometimes the ideas come from me and sometimes from writers who I have relationships with, TADA! does not accept submissions but I do get introduced to new writers  through seeing their work because they have invited me or know someone who I know. Writers have also sent me musicals so I get to know their work, and then we meet and discuss new projects. For a musical, I need the script and a recording of the score. It is also helpful if with the completed musical, the writers send ideas of shows that they would be interested in writing for TADA!. Sometimes it’s those ideas that spark my interest. 


“In the past TADA! had a One-Act Playwriting Contest. We are not currently doing this, but we have spoken about trying to bring the contest back.  Anyway, I did end up commissioning a new musical from one of the writers who won the contest. In fact, she is currently writing a second original musical for TADA!. I paired her with composers that I knew already. 


“It is also very important that the writers understand the company they are pitching an idea to. TADA! is a youth theater; young people ages 8-18 are the actors on stage. Our actors do not play adults and rarely do we hire adults to be in our productions. We also only produce musicals or dance theater pieces. The show must be no longer than an hour and must have a cast size of 15-30 actors. We do not generally have our actors play animals. We like kids to play characters that they can relate to as actors and that our audience (families with the majority of kids ages 3-12) can identify with.”


My nutshell takeaway: Just because a theater doesn’t take cold submissions, it doesn’t mean it’s not open to ideas—if they’re the right ones. A company like TADA! has a very specific mission, and a very specific need. If your idea meets the need, make contact! I just read on Twitter that a speaker at Citywrights said something along the lines of “If you don’t like how your work is being received, you either need to change the work or change the receiver.” This doesn’t mean, of course, change the views of the receiver, but change who the receiver is. Is it the right theater for your work? In case like TADA!, the answer might just be the perfect pitch.



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 46 states, and on five continents. Her full-length plays include ELEVATOR GIRL (2017 O’Neill finalist), THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR (Princess Grace semi-finalist, currently in its fourth year in rep in Romania), SAFE (winner of the Todd McNerney, Naatak, and Great Gay Play and Musical Contests), and BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART (2016 Kilroys List, Winner HRC Showcase, Firehouse Festival of New American Plays); she’s also authored more than three dozen short plays that have had hundreds of productions, and has been nominated for both the Francesca Primus and Susan Blackburn prizes. She’s also a two-time winner of the Emanuel Fried Award for Best New Play (SEEDS, SONS & LOVERS).

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.

In addition, Donna is a blogger, advocate, and moderator of the 12,000+-member Official Playwrights of Facebook. Recent speaking engagements include Citywrights, Kenyon Playwrights Conference, the Dramatists Guild National Conference, Chicago Dramatists, Austin Film Festival, and a live Dramatists Guild webinar. Her commentary has been read at #2amt, howlround, the Official Playwrights of Facebook, the newly released Workshopping the New Play, and

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