We are pleased to announce the 2020/21 Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellows
We struggled mightily to recalibrate this program in light of the many forces the last 7 months have brought to bear. This year’s iteration will take a very different shape than in years past, and we’re delighted to go on this journey of discovery with an expanded group of eight fellows: Leonie Bell, Nana Dakin, Michaela Escarcega, Estefanía Fadul, Rachel Gita Karp, Arpita Mukherjee, Keenan Oliphant and Joan Sergay and four mentors: Anne Kauffman, Daniel Aukin, Niegel Smith and Laurie Woolery. Read more about them HERE
Congratulations to the 2020 Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission winners, finalists and semifinalists
We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Biennial Commission: Francesca Pazniokas and Jacob Perkins and to the 10 finalists and semifinalists also awarded this year. Read more HERE
What the Constitution Means to Me streaming on Amazon Prime, starting October 16th
Though the national tour is on hold, you can still catch Heidi Schreck’s beloved play (which originated in Summerworks 2017) before the election.
Filmed during their last week on Broadway, and directed for the screen by Marielle Heller, What the Constitution Means to Me will stream on Amazon Prime beginning October 16th.
Meet the next Early-Career Writers' Group
We’re excited to get to know these eight writers over the course of the coming year, and to welcome them into the Clubbed Thumb fold: Nelson Diaz-Marcano, Allyson Dwyer, Nazareth Hassan, Johnny Lloyd, Cristina Luzárraga, Kathy Ng, Hanna Novak & Ruth Tang.
They’ll be sharing their work (by Zoom for now) over the next eight months (and we hope to share it with you after that). Learn more about them HERE.
A SUMMERWORKS 2020 UPDATE
Like everyone else right now, we’re in a holding pattern. In the meantime, click HERE to follow along with a fond look back at the last 24 years on our Instagram story, and read a recent Playbill article on the history of Summerworks HERE
ANNOUNCING THE 2020 CLUBBED THUMB 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. Read the prompt HERE
TUMACHO IS NOW CLOSED
Dear friends & supporters:
It is with sadness that we announce we will be ending our run of Tumacho ahead of schedule. We believe it is just the responsible thing to do.
We have reached out to ticket holders for cancelled performances – if you have not heard from us, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are so deeply proud of the work everyone has done on this production, and glad that we were able to share it with so many over the last few weeks. Thank you to everyone who made it possible.
Maria, Michael & Quinn
ANNOUNCING THE 25TH ANNUAL SUMMERWORKS
We are very excited to share our upcoming Summerworks, featuring new plays by Gab Reisman, Angela Hanks and Rinne Groff – we’re on hold for the moment, but in the meantime you and read more about them HERE
TUMACHO IS BACK IN TOWN
Our hit production from Summerworks 2016 returns for four weeks at the Connelly Theater – February 17 – March 21, 2020.
When we first produced this play, in the summer of 2016, the question of whether a hopeless citizenry could overcome their despair and band together to fight their oppressor felt like a metaphor, a general moral query about, you know, being a better person. After three long years, we have a very different understanding of the need for communities to come together to resist.
We have always loved Tumacho for its invitation to virtuosic comic performance, and for the slyness of its critique. Now it feels like a joyful way to gird our loins for the coming fight. We’ve wanted to revisit the show since our first short run, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be doing that right now.
THANK YOU to everyone who attended Winterworks 2020!! We were delighted to introduce you to the work of our 19/20 Directing Fellows: ANDRÉS LÓPEZ-ALICEA, EMMA MILLER and CAITLIN SULLIVAN, directing new plays by MILO CRAMER, T. ADAMSON, and GRACIE GARDNER.
Hear Vivian Barnes's new play HEAP on Fri, Nov 22nd at 2pm
Vivian won our 2018 open-application commission with the proposal for this play – and we are excited to be working on and sharing it with you this week. RSVP to email@example.com to save a seat.
HEAP by Vivian J.O. Barnes
Directed by Colette Robert
with April Matthis, Will Dagger, Danielle Davenport, Marielle Young, Polly Lee, Mikumari Caiyhe, Layla Khoshnoudi and Brian Quijada
A kaleidoscopic imagining of the book of Job seen through the eyes of his nameless wife and the denizens of their suburban cul-de-sac.
This summer's hit LUNCH BUNCH returns in 2020!
We are very excited to let you know that our production from Summerworks 2019 will return in 2020, as a co-production with our friends at The Play Company.
Lunch Bunch was born of a long, rich collaboration with Sarah, Tara and its other artists. It is very close to our hearts–and one of the most popular shows ever featured in Summerworks. How excellent to partner with PlayCo, whose work we love: two small companies sharing their resources to continue a beloved show’s growth and reach. MORE INFO HERE
Join us for a workshop presentation of Paul Cameron Hardy's new play!
This play was a finalist for our 2017 Biennial Commission and we’re excited to be working on it this week with Paul and Tara. Join us!
Untitled Dentist Play by Paul Cameron Hardy
directed by Tara Ahmadinejad
featuring: Susanna Guzman, Ellen Maddow, Purva Bedi, Kristin Villanueva, Drita Kabashi, Ned Einsenberg and Agnes Borinsky.
Forced to attend the retirement party of the town’s most-celebrated orthodontist, Dr. Idalia Navas and her staff spin into a mild existential crisis.
Fri, Oct 25th, 3pm at 440 Lafayette St
RSVP to natalie @ clubbedthumb.org
Meet the 19/20 EARLY CAREER WRITER'S GROUP and PRODUCING FELLOWS.
We have a new team of playwrights and we are delighted to introduce you to them: Crystal Finn, Deneen Reynolds, Justice Hehir, Aaron Ricciardi, Julia Izumi, Kori Alston, May Treuhaft-Ali, and Ryan Szelong.
Nominated and mentored by members of our mid-career alumni community, these eight writers will meet over the course of the year to develop their work, culminating in presentations during Summerworks.
Read more about the playwrights and the program HERE.
And say hello to this year’s Producing Fellows: Kathy Ng and Natalie Risk.
Each year, two early-career creative producers assist on all programming, as well as casting, script evaluation, management and marketing under the guidance/mentorship of Clubbed Thumb staff, culminating in hands-on roles in Summerworks.
Past Biennial Commission Prompts
Since we’re all stuck at home, we thought we’d share our past commission prompts for anyone who might be craving a bit of external inspiration. Take a look through and see if anything sparks! Have fun!
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