Audrey Zielenbach is the Artistic Content Curator at Gulfshore Playhouse.
It’s hard to believe that summer is at its end, and we are diving head first into season! The beginning of season means it’s nearly one of my favorite times of the year – the Annual New Works Festival. I’ve had the pleasure of helping facilitate the New Works Festival since 2015, and it is by far one of my favorite parts of my job! This year will be especially exciting because last year’s Festival was cut very short due to an unwelcome guest appearance by Hurricane Irma.
We have just selected our nine semifinalists for the Sixth Annual New Works Festival and are well on our way to narrowing those down to just four.
We began with a batch of 150 playwrights who sent their scripts within the four short hours before we hit our submission cap! For the third year, we utilized a blind submission process meaning playwrights sent a special version of their script that did not have their name on it. The scripts were then distributed to a wonderful corp of volunteer readers, and their top choices were sent to Jeff and I, and then our top scripts became the semifinalists. All in all, this process took us about 10 months, and we are in the home stretch now…until it starts all over again this November!
It was a great year filled with dozens of strong, innovative, and timely plays. It’s always a challenging task to select the semifinalists, but we are really thrilled with all nine of these plays!
The next step is well underway. Kristen reads all of the recommendations from Jeff and me, and then from there, we puzzle together a top four. This process involves figuring out how we can double (or triple) up on casting, which is always an exciting challenge. We are nearly there, and we are excited to announce our four finalists soon!
You don’t want to miss the New Works Festival. This event is a very special thing to witness as it allows you to participate in the process of developing a new play. Each of our four finalists will be presented as a staged reading with professional actors. Following the reading, the playwright will join Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury on stage for a special Q&A during which you can offer up your constructive feedback. This is a vital part of play development as scripts are written to be seen and heard by audience members like you! I hope you see you there!