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Dust Off Those Original Plays - The New Works Festival Is Coming

NewWorksFestivalCollege of the Canyons wants your play – whether it’s a one act, 10-minute play, full-length or monologue – and currently has an open call for original work for its New Works Festival.

The Festival, now in its 11th year, was originally restricted to COC students.


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“It’s an opportunity for local and regional playwrights to hear their play for the first time and it’s actually a course at COC,” said David Stears, Festival Director and Adjunct Faculty at the college. “It is one of the only festivals in the country that has a free submission process. It’s also one of the only festivals in the country that focuses on the writer’s process and offers them an opportunity to hear their piece, revise their piece, hear it again and revise it again if they want to.

There is no cost for submitting a play, but if the work is selected, the playwright must enroll as a student at COC.

“There is a cost for enrolling in the class,” Stears explained. “It’s up to the student if they want to enroll in one credit or four credits, depending what they may need or what their interests are.”

Stears said that entrants for the festival have come from all over the country, from as far away as New York and San Francisco. The four-person selection committee receives between 35 to 70 submissions a year and each person reads every one.

“We read submissions blindly, so we don’t know who it is, so there’s no personal connection to it,” he said. “There are a lot of plays to read. The four of us read them, then we vote and discuss about which plays we want to include.”

On the average 12 to 14 playwrights are asked to participate.

“That’s a lot of plays to be working on at one time,” Stears explained. “The actual festival is the first weekend in May. We’ll actually put up and produce the plays for the festival. Some are workshopped, where they are staged and lines are memorized, some are rehearsal propped, some are a staged reading in a concert setting with music stands and scripts in front of the actors, and everywhere in between. It depends on the piece and what it calls for.

Several playwrights from previous festivals have taken their plays to other markets and festivals and some have produced Off-Broadway.

The festival has also gone into the publishing business to raise money for the production, producing “New Works Festival Anthology 2008,” which is now available on Amazon.

“We are the only small festival in the country that publishes the plays,” he said. “We are about to publish New Works Festival Anthology 2011, then do the ones in between.”

A book signing is planned when the 2011 anthology comes out.

“It’s an exciting process,” Stears said. “It’s exciting for me every year, I love to be a part of it.”

Deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. November 16. For more information on the festival or submitting original work, call Kim Gurnee at 661-362-3073 or click here or follow the festival on Facebook here.