Sunday, May 5, 2013



WHAT: Proposals for new one-act plays about the 350th Anniversary of New Jersey—part of the statewide NJ 350 Initiative
WHEN: due June 15; selection made by August 15

Premiere Stages, the professional theatre in residence at Kean University, is committed to supporting emerging playwrights through the development and production of new plays. Under the umbrella of the Premiere Stages Play Festival, Premiere produces a biannual commissioning program for New Jersey playwrights entitled Liberty Live.

Liberty Live is a unique new partnership with the Liberty Hall Museum that features a production of a new play that celebrates New Jersey history, tours of the Museum, interactive displays, workshops for children and talk-backs with local historians.

  • Aspiring and established playwrights are invited to submit proposals for new one-act plays to Premiere Stages.
  • Playwrights must be current residents of New Jersey.
  • The commissioned writer will be awarded $1000, and their script will be developed in 2013 and professionally produced in November 2014 at Kean University’s Liberty Hall Museum.
  • Premiere seeks proposals for 45 - 60 minute plays that explore an event or events of historical significance that celebrate New Jersey’s rich and diverse history.
  • The selection panel is particularly interested in the dramatization of events that happened in the township of Elizabeth, given Elizabeth will also be celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2014.
  • Premiere will provide research materials with historical background to interested applicants.
  • Three of the submitted proposals will be selected as finalists and playwrights will be interviewed
  • Proposals are due by June 15, 2013. The winning proposal will be selected by August 15, 2013 and one playwright will be selected to write a play based on the submitted proposal.
  • Upon completion of the first draft, the playwright will receive a $1000 award.
  • The winning play will be developed from August through November 2013 and three staged readings will be held in November 2013 at Premiere Stages.
  • Community leaders, historians, school administrators and patrons will be invited to attend the readings to provide feedback and solidify partnership opportunities.
  • From November 2013 through November 2014, Premiere Stages will work with the playwright to continue to develop the play.
  • Premiere Stages will also forge collaborations and partnerships with organizations and groups state-wide.
  • The project will culminate with a fully produced Equity production at Premiere Stages in November 2014.
  • Submission guidelines are now available. Please e-mail for guidelines.
  • There is no entry fee. 
  • All entries are evaluated by a panel of theatre professionals and historians in consultation with Wooten and resident dramaturg, Clare Drobot.

Talking_WestfieldLiberty Live was launched in 2012 and focused on the township of Westfield. The New Jersey Historical Commission said of the inaugural project: “This engaging public program combines scholarly review with the power of the theatre to attract and engage audiences. This project could be an excellent model for similar projects.” The play, entitled Talking to Westfield, was written by award-wining playwright, EM Lewis. The Westfield Leader said in its review of Talking to Westfield: "The delightful, informative play is the perfect length for a young audience... a memorable night of history and entertainment.” (Above right: Sam Kitchin and Nick Piacente in Premiere Stages' 2012 production of Talking to Westfield by New Jersey playwright EM Lewis.)

The success of the inaugural Liberty Live project has made it a permanent part of Premiere Stages programming.  “We are extremely pleased to expand our new play development programs to include Liberty Live,said John Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages.  “The project empowers local dramatists to create compelling plays about how New Jersey has evolved.  And Liberty Hall Museum is the perfect partner to help bring these stories to life.”

The pilot program of Liberty Live was funded by The Westfield Foundation, The New Jersey Historical Commission, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts / Department of State, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and The Shubert Foundation. Premiere Stages receives additional funding from Hudson City Savings Bank, The Provident Bank Foundation, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance and generous support from individual patrons.

Premiere Stages ( offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities, free parking and discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities.  All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces.  Please call for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances.  Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times.  Publications are available with advanced notice in alternate formats.