August 27th, 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




 “I asked Seattle-based playwright Yussef El Guindi if he’d like to submit a play to ACT for possible inclusion in the Icicle Creek Theatre Festival (ICTF), a New Play Festival with whom ACT partners.  Yussef sent me Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World. I fell in love with the play and started to advocate for it with our artistic director, Kurt Beattie, who also really liked it. It won the slot at Icicle Creek in 2010. I went up to work on it as director with Yussef, and then we read it at ACT in front of an audience. It was a big hit, and shortly after that we decided to put it in our 2011 season.  


It’s definitely a tough business for playwrights, and writers in general.  I think I read some statistic a little while ago that said there are now more writers than people reading!!  (Don’t know how you determine that information, but it’s a scary piece of info, yes?)

I guess I’d recommend that playwrights research the theatres to which they send plays before they do so. Don’t just indiscriminately send your scripts off to as many companies as possible and expect that approach to bear fruit. Be more selective. Does the theatre even produce the kind of work you are writing? Have they ever?  Do they do new plays? Do they make all of their selections based on what’s been hot Off-Broadway? Do they produce local work? Do they workshop plays?  The more you know about a theatre, the better your chances of knowing whether your play is actually going to receive a thoughtful read, and maybe even a production.”


My Nutshell Takeaway: No new fruit—or nut—to bear here. Though Ms. Montgomery is espousing the perennial advice about knowing the theaters to which we submit, her story bears out the even greater and often unspoken truism: it’s who you know. Yes, El Guindi needed to have a good play to hand off, but he had to have the connection to be asked in the first place. So it is a success story, but not one that came from a blind submission. It’s a tough business we got ourselves into, no?


On another note, I’ve just returned from the Dramatists Guild Conference,Having Our Day, in Chicago, where this very thing was often a topic of discussion. But nowhere on earth will you feel more inspired to fight the good fight and keep on writing than among 500 playwrights who all understand that we really don’t have any choice. Keep your eyes open for information on the 2015 conference on the West Coast. It is not to be missed.


Until next time,



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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