July 29th, 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.




“Every year we stage a New Play Competition, six one-act plays by six local playwrights. The one-act plays are no longer than 20 minutes, there is a 15-minute intermission (three shows in the first hour and three after intermission) so our patrons get a full night of theater.  Audience members vote for their favorite performance each night and, on closing night, tally the votes and award the winning playwright $1,000 and two roundtrip airline tickets, but sometimes it’s the runner-ups who are the real winners. On several occasions, I’ve staged full-length productions of playwrights who did not win the cash prize. My advice is simple: cultivate relationships. People do business with people they like. 


Isabella Russell-Ides participated in our New Play Competition in 2007. Her play was among those that received the least amount of votes from the audience poll. However, over the next few months, Isabella and I befriended each other and out of that grew a working relationship. She participated in focus group meetings to help expand our programs and even served on the Reading Committee for subsequent festival events. The relationship blossomed into a sisterhood, she continued to hone her craft, and I desperately wanted to support her work. In 2008, her full length play Leonard’s Car opened our theater season. The show received many awards and national attention. It’s an old adage and sometimes we forget that relationships trump everything.”


My nutshell takeaway: Relationships trump everything; it bears repeating. But more than that, two things. One, I’m keen on how Russell-Ides developed a relationship as a result of being chosen as part of a one-act festival.  There are many, many of us who have been winners in these contests, but I wonder how many of us are following up, building relationships with the directors and actors. I’ve done some, but am guilty of adding the line to my resume, and not really staying connected, particularly when I’ve been unable to attend the production (which, unfortunately, is often, as its cost prohibitive). Two, this is another very strong example of local involvement. I may have mentioned this before but I once had a newspaper editor who said that the only newspapers that will survive are the truly national and the truly local. While it’s not a direct parallel, I do hear more and more about playwrights who are big in a certain area, even if their work doesn’t necessarily transfer to large regionals or beyond. There is success to be had locally, and Russell-Ides is just one more example of it.


Happy submitting,





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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