This morning I put together my application for the Massachusetts Cultural Council playwriting fellowship. The deadline is September 20 (the big prize for a handful of winners is $7,500, with additional $500 for finalists). I'd sure like to get this one, but I've never even been a finalist (this is my fourth time applying, because it's only available every two years). Maybe this can be my year. (I have several friends who have won in the past.)
The thing I dislike most about this fellowship is that the application only allows you to submit 30 pages. I don't see how the judges are supposed to tell much about quality of playwriting from a 30-page sample. I could see the usefulness of a two-tiered system, where they first look at resumes and sample pages and then request entire scripts. It just doesn't make sense to give away that much money just by reading a couple ten-minute plays or the first third of a full-length play.
I'm always left with the dilemma--do I submit one half-hour one-act, or three ten-minute plays, or the first 30 pages of a full-length? I've tried it all different ways, never with any luck. This time I'm going back to a 30-page section from a full-length play (Constant State of Panic), but I do so with some trepidation.
In my ideal world (probably theirs, too), the MCC would give away more money ($12,000 to each winner, at least), and would look at complete full-length scripts. I'd also like them to consider the role of the applicants in the Massachusetts theatrical community--what has the applicant done to help improve the climate for new work and for playwrights in Massachusetts?
But they're not asking me how to run things, and I don't see them getting more money (I'm grateful they're in business at all, given the current economic climate). For now, I'll just keep my fingers crossed.