MEET THE CASTS AND DESIGN TEAMS FOR SUMMERWORKS 2022
Tickets are on sale now for The 25th Summerworks – running May 20th through July 2nd at the Wild Project. We’re thrilled to announce initial casting and design teams for these three plays – READ MORE AND GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
APPLY FOR CLUBBED THUMB'S NEW PLAY DIRECTING FELLOWSHIP
Applications are now open for the 2022-2023 cohort of Clubbed Thumb’s New Play Directing Fellowship. Directors who have at least 3 years of experience outside of an academic environment, will not be in grad school in the coming year and plan to be in NYC September 2022 through January 2023 are welcome to apply now through May 1st. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
THE 25th SUMMERWORKS
Oh Summerworks, how we’ve missed you! With your idiosyncratic, fast, funny plays. On a warm summer evening with the garage door rolled up and a cold drink in hand – what could be better? We’re thrilled to be back at the Wild Project, May 20 – July 2, with three new plays we love. Please join us – we miss you too! CLICK FOR INFO & TICKETS
A SONG OF SONGS
We are delighted to support this new work from Agnes Borinsky (playwright of Summerworks 2017’s Of Government), and directed by Machel Ross (who interned for us many years ago)! A Song of Songs is produced by The Bushwick Starr and Jeremy O. Harris, in partnership with El Puente. Performances May 10 – 27: CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND INFO
WINTERWORKS 2022: MEET THE DIRECTORS
Clubbed Thumb’s Directing Fellowship just concluded, with our seventh-annual Winterworks! Through planning, a great deal of testing, enormous goodwill from the company of artists – and perhaps a shake of luck – we managed to do the whole program in person, and are so glad we did.
Since attendance capacity (and our ability to see each others’ faces) was very limited this year, we put together a short video chat with the directors and mentor / program co-founder Anne Kauffman. CLICK HERE TO WATCH
ANNOUNCING OUR NEXT BIENNIAL COMMISSION
Every other year Clubbed Thumb invites playwrights to propose plays inspired by a particular prompt. The application is open to all, and read blind. The winning proposal(s) receive (or split) a $15,000 award and two years of development support. Today (December 22, 2021) we are pleased to announce our next Biennial Commission: Your Community Theater. CLICK HERE to read the prompt
MEET THE ARTISTS IN OUR 21/22 EARLY-CAREER INCUBATOR PROGRAMS
We’re excited to be back in-person with two new cohorts of writers and directors – read about those groups HERE and HERE, and stay tuned for information about how to get to know their work. And we’re also thrilled to have a new Producing Fellow—Gabby Farrah—on our team. Welcome Gabby!
EARLY-CAREER WRITERS' GROUP READING SERIES
We’re pleased to introduce you to the work of the 16 playwrights who made up the last two cohorts of our Early-Career Writers’ Group – all of whom chose to postpone their readings until we could safely gather in person.
It’s a tightly-packed schedule of two plays per day, Tuesday through Friday, October 5th through 15th at the Wild Project. We are excited to finally get to celebrate these writers and hope you can join us – CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!
OUR NEW ANTHOLOGY - ON SALE NOW
We’ve been eager to put out a second anthology since Funny, Strange, Provocative was published in 2007, and the last year finally provided us with the time to take on this long-awaited project. We are thrilled to announce that Unusual Stories, Unusually Told, published by Bloomsbury/Methuen, is now available!
In it you’ll find seven Clubbed Thumb plays that span 18 years of our history, as well as essays and interviews about the work, and the often atypical processes that led to their productions.
Read more about the book and get your discounted copy (and our first anthology) HERE
EAT YOUR FEELINGS - three short videos about taking care of ourselves and each other
Over the past few months we’ve been commissioning Clubbed Thumb artists to make short videos while we wait for theaters to re-open. We’re pleased to bring you the first installment of this initiative, a series created by Directing Fellowship alumnae Kate Hopkins, Kate Eminger and Caitlin Sullivan.
It began as a chance to check-in with various CT artists during the pandemic – but quickly became a much deeper investigation of our community, of how we rely on one another, and how we might rebuild and reimagine a better future. This first episode features actress, playwright and good friend Crystal Finn cooking with her daughter Delphina (follow along from home with the recipe on the left).
The series also features an organization which started in March to address food insecurity in New York – EV Loves NYC. Their work is crucial and ongoing, and we hope the videos inspire you to spread the word about what they do, volunteer and donate. They need our help.
And stay tuned for two more episodes, featuring Chinaza Uche & Caitlin Zoz and Mel Ng – as well as more commissioned work from a variety of Clubbed Thumb artists, coming soon to CT/TV!
Past Biennial Commission Prompts
Every two years we host an open-application, blind-read commission for new plays inspired by a prompt that we devise. For anyone who may be craving a bit of external inspiration, we thought we’d share our past prompts, many of which take the form of a Paul Vogel bake-off. Enjoy!
For this year’s commission consider The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio – but don’t write about the Plague. Consider The Decameron as a piece that came from the ashes of the Plague but is decidedly a piece of the Renaissance. Consider it as a celebration of voice and style, as a compendium of stories from a wide span of sources. Consider it as an opportunity to take a deep research dive, if that’s your thing.
Then do with that what you want, jump off it in form, content, what have you. Feel free to take inspiration from just a little piece.
Your play should have no fewer than three people, and up to ten, and most of them should be female.
Very few of these characters should be blood relatives.
You may only specify three props.
You may have no stage directions longer than twelve words. You may only have seven stage directions.
Time: (of all scenes) night — except for one which can be dawn or dusk.
One very fancy costume.
These constraints apply to the whole play.
For this commission, Clubbed Thumb is interested in plays that employ alternative structures and shapes. We ask you to consider one of five alternative play shapes–landscape, spider web, nesting dolls, circle, double helix–and craft a proposal for how you will employ that play shape to best suit the story you wish to tell. This is subjective, of course, and meant to trigger the imagination, not be academic analysis. Some examples of what we mean:
Landscape: in which we learn about the world through accumulation
Our Town by Thornton Wilder is structured a bit like a landscape painting–we are introduced to everything all at once and Wilder zooms in and out of the landscape in order to tell the story.
Other examples might include: Wilder Gone, God’s Ear, Mlima’s Tale
Spider Web: in which we learn through disparate scenes that seem disconnected but are linked at odd angles and actually cohere around a central theme or argument
Booty Candy by Robert O’Hara could be seen as a spider web play–at first each scene feels like a vignette exploring a discrete idea, however, as more and more divergent worlds are explored we begin to realize that each world is connected in exploration of a single theme.
Other examples might include: Lear (Young Jean Lee), Doll’s House Pt. 2, Of Government
Nesting Dolls: in which we learn through analogies and juxtaposition
Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn might be seen as a play shaped like a set of nesting dolls–each act is its own entity and the dramatic movement lies in building out from what came before.
Other examples might include: Fairview, An Octoroon, Barbecue
Circle: in which we learn through reflection
Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés might be a circle play. The most important dramatic events happen in the middle; act one leads us into these events and act three deals with the aftermath; the end of the play reflects themes that are present in the beginning of the play.
Other examples might include: A Map of Virtue, The Aliens, Father Comes Home From the Wars
Double Helix: in which we learn through thematic associations between the narrative threads
Stop Kiss by Diana Son could be a double helix play – the story is told in two threads simultaneously–what happened before and what happened after the inciting event–with thematic links between these narratives.
Other examples might include: Midsummer Night’s Dream (might be a triple helix), We are Proud to Present…, The Tomb of King Tot
You are also welcome to come up with your unconventional play shape.
Should you choose to do that, be rigorous about it.
Your play should also include the following:
1) At least three characters in every scene (no two character scenes)
2) Some simultaneous talking
3) Some found or repurposed text
4) A character pretending to be someone else
5) No indoor spaces
(Many thanks to Erin Courtney for developing this prompt with us.)
For this year’s commission please consider the oeuvre of Caryl Churchill.
We paid particular attention to Top Girls, Fen and Far Away, but by all means read and consider any and all of her plays.
Your play should feature:
– Three sections, the second of which is set in a workplace;
– A cast of mostly (perhaps all) women—of differing ages, cultures, and especially, classes/means/education levels;
– A formal event (a pageant, a parade, a number, a dinner party) involving many people;
– An ersatz mother/daughter relationship.
Embrace economy of language, and specificity and fidelity of language to character. Consider if and when those rules explode.
For this commission, please consider the work of María Irene Fornés, a godmother of formally innovative playwriting in the U.S.
Please take a look, specifically, at The Danube and Fefu and Her Friends. (If you have not read the work of María Irene Fornés you might want also to dip into Mud, Abington Square, The Conduct of Life, and Promenade — or others!)
In crafting the idea for the play, please utilize the following:
-a cast made up entirely of women
-a play broken into 5 scenes, at least three of which are set in different locations
-voices from people who are not in the room, and the faces of people who are not in the room
(cannot be puppets or language tapes)
(probably avoid screens or screen containing devices)
-a scene which is repeated
And please begin your play (ala Fornés) with one of the two sentences:
-“Something like that could never happen.”
-“That’s why they left.”
Finally, some helpful thoughts from Ms. Fornés:
-Be always true to the character, respectful of the character.
-Something inside you eventually shifts into the perspective of the character.
-It’s important not to be seduced by style
For the fifth Biennial Commission we’d like you to consider Robert Altman’s movie Nashville.
No, we aren’t looking for a cast of thousands, a 2 1/2 hour opus, a dissection of country music or of red state culture. But we love the way Altman’s movies move from the ridiculous to the heart-breaking, we love the combo of the highly auteured and the DIY, the obliqueness, the leitmotifs and the red herrings, the imperfection of the characters and of the movie itself, the excruciating humanity that is never ever mawkish, and the monumental and surprising accrual. So watch the amazing Nashville and if you like, other Altmans, and let ’em inspire you in whatever way that happens for you.
Please explore the following possibilities:
-What if you created a cast with no dominant racial or cultural group, or/and in which more than one significant character was from a racial or cultural background different than your own?
-What if your play started just as something BIG has just ended OR the moment after someone has been terribly hurt.
-What if temperature is a factor?
-What if there is at least one scene where there is a difficulty with a light source?
-What if “close ups” are a factor in your play? Yes, we are referring to cinematic-style close ups, but how might that translate in world of your play?
-BONUS (just for fun): What is the theatrical equivalent of an Altman-style epic tracking shot
We are delighted to open the 2011 Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission to application. This year’s iteration is slightly different than that of recent years. The Biennial Commission is supported exclusively from funds given by two dynamic, complex and generous women: Alice Tang and Margaret Thrower. Both of these women passed in recent months, and we wanted to invoke them in this year’s commission. So instead of giving a theme as a jumping off point for the commission, we offer an iconic character: the Matriarch.
We’re also trying a different model to inspire the writing: the bake-off, familiar to anyone who has studied with Paula Vogel, who generously helped us brainstorm and shape this one.
We’ve gathered some material that offers a range of characterizations of Matriarchs as well as some ingredients, culled both from these sources and from those connected with the commission’s creators. Customarily with the bake-off, the writer can take as long as she wants to contemplate the ingredients, including the source “texts”, but when she sets down to write, she is to do it in 48 hours. You are welcome to take this on, or go about writing however you see fit.
1. “Good Person of Szechwan” by Bertolt Brecht
2. “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams
3. “Unforgettable Elephants” PBS Nature Series
4. “Whistler’s Mother” Season 1 Episode 20 Arrested Development
a man in uniform
a crappy job
a body part that doesn’t work right
a home with too many inhabitants
Joan Baez’s 1968 recording of “Tears of Rage”
and the photo you see before you
The Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission was created to encourage the writing of plays that consider the relationships between truth, power, history, and personal responsibility. For each commission, Clubbed Thumb will ask a question or pose a theme to serve as a jumping-off point for this examination. Please use the theme as inspiration. The result need not be immediately recognizable as a product of the initial examination. The theme for year 2009-2010 is “The Crisis of Confidence Speech.”
The Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission was created to encourage the writing of plays that consider the relationships between truth, power, history, and personal responsibility. For each commission, Clubbed Thumb will ask a question or pose a theme to serve as a jumping-off point for this examination. Please use the theme as inspiration. The result need not be immediately recognizable as a product of the initial examination. The theme for year 2007-2008 is “The Tragedy of the Commons.”
The Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission was created to encourage the writing of plays that consider the relationships between truth, power, history, and personal responsibility. For each commission, Clubbed Thumb will ask a question or pose a theme to serve as a jumping-off point for this examination. Please use the theme as inspiration. The result need not be immediately recognizable as a product of the initial examination. The inaugural theme for year 2005-2006 is “Yamashita’s Gold.”
BASE INGREDIENTS for 2005/2007/2009
1. Running time between 1 hr and 1:30 hr.
3. Must have a reasonable representation of women, both in quantity and quality of roles
4. At least 3 characters