It can be difficult to get a new play produced. It’s difficult to get people to give you detailed feedback on a play you’ve written. Hell, it’s difficult enough just to convince people to read it!
That’s where the Windsor-Essex Playwrighting Contest comes in. Every eligible playwright (and aspiring playwright) who submits to the contest is guaranteed to have their work carefully read and discussed by a panel of three to five judges, who then send several pages of constructive feedback. Those playwrights who make it to the second round as finalists even get a second round of constructive feedback – all written by people who have carefully read, thought about, and discussed their work.
You see, the Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest’s goals are much larger than simply finding a winning script. When Post Productions created the contest in 2018, it wanted to use it as a means to help playwrights living in (or born in) this region hone their craft. The contest aims to help playwrights get better over time through cycles of practice, feedback, and revision – powered by the hope that eventually every playwright will succeed. Not just in Windsor; Post Productions wants to help local playwrights succeed nationally and internationally. It just starts here.
But this is a contest, of course! Those who win not only get to see their work produced as part of Post Productions’ next season, they’re also invited to take part in the audition and rehearsal processes, and they receive ten percent of the production’s gross ticket revenue as an honorarium. Their winning script will get as much devoted attention as any of the classic critically-acclaimed plays that Post’s team produces (such as Equus, Stop Kiss, The Pillowman, True West) with a poster and program designed by a professional graphic artist. Post Productions takes this contest very seriously indeed.
Past winners of the Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest have become critically-acclaimed and audience-beloved productions. The 2018 winners – Alex Monk’s Autopsy and Joey Ouellette’s A Haunting in E Flat – were presented as a double bill in October 2019. That production drew massive crowds, selling out several performances, and served as the contest’s proof of concept: people will pay to see quality productions of great locally-written scripts. 2019’s winner, Edele Winnie’s surreal Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, was just as big of a hit when it hit the stage in February 2020. And 2020’s winner, John Gavey’s Dead Bear, is sure to leave audiences reeling when it opens in November 2021 (it had to be rescheduled from February due to the ongoing pandemic).
Post Productions feels especially encouraged by the playwrights who submit every year, who haven’t won yet – but they will, someday soon, based on how well they’ve applied the feedback they received and the incredible progress they’ve made. From the judges’ perspective, there’s nothing better than seeing talented people hone their skills.
Each year, Post Productions invites one or two people from outside the company to join the panel as guest judges — bringing in fresh voices and different perspectives – and their contributions have been essential to the contest’s growth and success. The guest judges in 2021 are Patricia Fell, artistic director of Windsor Feminist Theatre, and Simon Du Toit, from the University of Windsor (who also served on the panel in 2020). They, along with the Post Productions team, are eager to read the wonderful stories our region’s imaginative writers have dreamed up this time around.
For detailed information about the 2021 Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest, including eligibility requirements, see postproductionswindsor.ca. If you have questions about the contest, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.