November 26th, 2013 donnahoke


 If you don’t know what RIPP: Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project is about, please click here to get some context before reading.


In gathering information for this series, I got a lot of quick notes that maybe don’t make a full-blown individual post, but collectively reiterate a lot of the advice offered since I began this series in May. Because I don’t want to ignore anybody who took the time to help, from to time, I’ll compile a few into one post. Here is the first:




“We have produced two new plays by an actor in our company. He got friends together, and did readings. After a couple of those, I showed up for one. Writers must write—every day. The big difference between successful writers and the rest is that the real ones write everyday and guard their writing time jealously. Start collecting actors and directors. Hear your plays read. Organize readings. Find actors and directors and feed them and listen to them read your plays and tell you what they think. Produce your own work. Get together a couple of thousand bucks or less even, and produce your own work.”





“I usually commission a new play with a playwright I have a long-standing relationship with. I know what I am looking for and my playwright understands my audience and my theater company’s philosophy, so it’s a great partnership. I have also posted on TYA/USA and AATE what kinds of play formats I produce. A playwright is always welcome to submit a play to Youth Stages as per those guidelines.  A word of wisdom for playwrights: if a theatre company clearly states the number of actors, the audience age-range, the style of theatre it produces, or any other guidelines, playwrights need to respect those guidelines and only send works that fit those specifications. Otherwise the theatre is not going to read it, let alone produce it!”




“The best example I can give probably involves our playwright in residence, Deb Salem Smith. A playwright and poet living in the Rhode Island area, Deb reached out to Craig Watson, our former literary manager who is now retired (and is also a poet actually), and they formed a nice collegial relationship. Some time later, Trinity decided to produce an original piece focused on the most recent Iraq war, based almost solely on interviews with soldiers, medics, parents of soldiers, opponents of the war, etc (this was in 2005). We had a director for the piece, but we wanted someone to help shape the script—this seemed like the perfect time to get Deb involved. Since then, she helped write and shape another docudrama we produced (about the photographer Sally Mann) called Some Things Are Private, and, last year, we produced her play, Love Alone, which will have its second production at Playmakers in North Carolina next year.”



“I think the best relevant resource for playwrights and producers is  Every few months, I go through their entire catalogue of listings to see if a title or synopsis pops out at me. It’s also a good way for producers to get the playwrights’ contact info.  I believe I found The Ladies of Fisher Cove and Foreign Lands there. Plus, after learning certain movies I liked were based on plays, I’ve gone to doollee to research them (or as I’ve said, to find contact info).All playwrights should take advantage of this website, besides inquiring directly by e-mail as to whether a company is accepting submissions at the time before bothering to send.”


My nutshell takeaway: All advice that bears repeating. 1) Develop your own work if no one else will. 2) Make relationships. 3) Keep writing. 4) Update your doolee.


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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