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June 1st, 2015 donnahoke


If there’s anything I’ve noticed, it’s that playwrights keep their marketing methods extremely close to the vest. I’ve often asked “So how did that production come about?” only to have the question ignored (sometimes repeatedly), or answered “Oh, I’m persistent,” when I want—what we ALL want—is specifics. My Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project (RIPP—all entries still available by clicking the link in the category list at the upper right of this page) offers loads of suggestions for how to make productions happen, but I have a feeling that playwrights read them and think they’re theoretical.  THEY ARE NOT—I’ve gotten productions using those very suggestions. RIPP also sought to find cold submission success stories; I have some of those, too. So below I’m offering the specifics, total transparency; this is how I got every full-length production or reading I had or am having in 2015 (I’ve also had a slew of ten-minute productions, but those all came from cold submissions to calls for festivals). I invite you to offer up the same for yourself—but how many of you will?


SLICE OF LIFE: Springville Center for the Arts, Springville, NY, July

A director workshop/playwright in residence one-night only performance of eight of my ten-minute plays. Because I’d heard that SCA was interested in new works—and actually know a playwright from out of town who has been produced there—I started sending them things several years ago. When they got the idea to run a ten-minute play festival, they contacted me because I founded one in Buffalo. Ultimately, they decided they’d rather just do this director’s workshop with my ten-minute pieces, many of which the PTB here had seen locally.


ON THE ROOF: Buffalo United Artists, Buffalo, NY, staged reading, May

This play is set in a 1955 gay bar, so I contacted BUA, which has a mission of presenting plays with LGBT themes not only because I thought they’d be interested, but because I thought the audience they cultivated would enjoy the play. I was right on both counts, and the result was one of the most successful readings I’ve ever had.



BRILLIANT WORKS OF ART: Core Artists Ensemble/Barrow Group, New York, NY, staged reading April

Core had done three of my ten-minute plays in previous series, and I was fortunate to attend one of them while I was in NYC for the Fringe Festival. When the company decided to expand their scope to include full-length plays, they contacted a bunch of playwrights they’d enjoyed working with on the ten-minutes and asked for full-length submissions.  From the plays they chose for readings, one will be fully produced next season–we’ll see. Either way, I had an amazing reading and overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience response. Through cold submission, this play was also invited to the Last Frontier Conference, and is a current semi-finalist for Playwrights First.



CHRISTMAS 2.0: Phoenix Theatre, Hormel Festival of New Works, Phoenix, AZ   (in residence, one-week residency and workshop production) , March


Cold submission. I’d had a short play done previously, but as submissions are blind, I’m not sure how much that matters.


SAFE : Winner: Winner Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest, staged reading; Winner Naatak’s Playwriting Contest, Santa Clara, CA, staged reading; Winner 2015 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest, staged reading


All cold submissions. All with prize money.  This play already has three productions scheduled (one university later this year), and Road Less Traveled Productions—who will produce the world premiere in March 2016—is seeking partners for a NNPN Rolling World Premiere.


FLOWERS IN THE DESERT: Three productions! Elite Theatre, Oxnard, CA (March); Western Door Playhouse, Niagara Falls, NY (June); Actors Repertory Theatre, Luxembourg (October)

Elite: Cold submission to a call

Western Door: This is a local theater, and I got to know the AD, then sent some plays

ART Lux: Cold submission after “meeting” the AD on LinkedIn



THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR: second year in rep in Romania at Teatrulde Arta Bucuresti (ongoing), production at Dangerous Theatre, Denver, CO (March)

For the Romanian production, an actress found my play via the Internet, and asked for the rights. For Dangerous, I’d sent the play three years ago to another Denver theater, who thought it more appropriate for Dangerous and made the introduction.  I checked in periodically over the years, and one day, I got an email from the co-AD who said he wanted to produced it.



As you can see, none of it is rocket science, top secret, magic, or luck, but many of the suggestions that emerged in Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project (RIPP) are evident, namely:

1) Write ten-minute plays and use them as calling cards.

2) Connect with the people producing your plays.

3) Just ask!

4) Submit to all appropriate cold calls.

5) Be persistent!

6) Don’t believe in the myth of premiere-itis.


Please follow me on Twitter @donnahoke or like me on Facebook at Donna Hoke, Playwright.

To begin reading the Real Inspiration for Playwrights Project (RIPP) series, click here or select the RIPP category at upper right.

To check out this year’s project, click here or #365GratefulPlaywright in the category listing at upper right.





  1. 1 Steve Franco said at 10:09 am on June 1st, 2015:

    Donna—Thank you for your candor! I have always been amazed at those playwrights that are more than willing to sing the blues about not getting their work out there—when they make NO EFFORT to get their work OUT THERE. This information age has opened more doors than ever before for playwrights and writers of all genres so “playing their cards close to the vest” is self destructive. Kudos to you—and much success in the future!
    Steve Franco/Playwright
    Samuel French Inc.

  2. 2 Earl T. Roske said at 11:01 am on June 1st, 2015:

    I’m not in the same league as Donna, but I agree with everything she said. Because I have consistently sent 10-minute plays to a local theatre for their summer reading (Summer Shorts), they got to know me and my writing. Just this past March they did an “Evening of Roske” as a theatre fund raiser. Nine plays, staged reading, all my work. The house was full.
    Ultimately it does come down to one thing that Donna has pushed repeatedly: submit, submit, submit!

  3. 3 Mary Marshall said at 2:45 pm on June 1st, 2015:

    Very good information. I am pretty new at this, so the advice means a lot to me.


  4. 4 Rhett said at 3:21 pm on June 22nd, 2015:

    Thank you so much. Very inspirational. I’ve already reposted your article to all my friends on all my social networks.

    Quick question for you:
    Where do you get info for submissions? I use, but I’m always eager to learn about other resources for play submissions.

  5. 5 donnahoke said at 4:36 pm on June 23rd, 2015:

    I have never used any resources others than Dusty Wilson’s list on Official Playwrights of Facebook, but I recently joined Playwrights Center and Play Submissions Helper because I want to see if they are of any use. I plan to do a comparison in about six months and let people know what kind of overlap there is and which one might be a better fit.

  6. 6 donnahoke said at 4:36 pm on June 23rd, 2015:

    By reposted, I hope you mean shared the link 🙂 I’d rather not have the cut-and-paste. Thanks for the support, though!

  7. 7 Rhett said at 6:22 pm on June 23rd, 2015:

    Thanks! And yes, I meant shared. 🙂

  8. 8 Big Daddy Don Parker said at 4:43 pm on July 21st, 2015:

    Hi Donna,
    I just shared the bill with you at The Barn Theatre’s Solstice Showcase 2015 in Montville, NJ. My play, “Inappropriate for Children” followed your play, “Face Time”. I thought the entire production went very well and was very well received. Thanks for sharing your submission tips on your website. Who designed/manages your website? All the best always,
    Big Daddy Don Parker

  9. 9 donnahoke said at 9:34 am on July 22nd, 2015:

    It was designed by a friend of a friend who is no longer designing. I’m waiting for my daughter to graduate with her DMA degree so she can revamp the whole thing!

  10. 10 Chas Belov said at 3:29 am on December 10th, 2015:

    Donna, thank you for sharing this in such detail. Two years in Romania; that’s wonderful. Was it translated? If so, were you involved in that.

    Anyway, wishing you many more broken pencils in 2016.

    I’ll be happy to share mine if/when I get some full-length productions. As for the 10-minuters, 2 were from 24-hour fests (random selection from an electronic hat), 1 from submitting to my playwriting group’s short play fest (membership required) and the rest from cold subs.

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