What's Happening!

  • OUR NEW ANTHOLOGY - ON SALE MAY 21ST

    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, will be available next week!

    In it you’ll find seven Clubbed Thumb plays that span 19 years of our history, as well as essays and interviews about the work, and the often atypical processes that led to their productions.

    To celebrate its release, the Clubbed Thumb staff will be at the Wild Project on Friday, May 21st from 12 to 7pm, selling super-discounted copies (only $25!) — but you don’t need to buy a book to come by and say hello! We miss seeing you and would love to catch up.

    Read more about the book HERE

  • THE WOMAN'S PARTY IS A NY TIMES CRITIC'S PICK!

    Jesse Green writes: “With wit, a light hand, and even occasional raggedness…The Woman’s Party is bracing political theater.” CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW

  • YOU'RE INVITED TO THE WOMAN'S PARTY

    Originally scheduled for Summerworks 2020, The Woman’s Party by Rinne B. Groff has been adapted into a three-party video series directed by Tara Ahmadinejad. Episode One is available now – it’s free to watch, but registration is required – CLICK HERE TO WATCH

  • ANNOUNCING WINTERWORKS 2021: NEW BEGINNINGS

    We’ve spent the last four months in conversation with the eight Directing Fellows, discussing craft, process and our industry (among other things). We are thrilled to now introduce you to their work, as they present short performances, each taking different shapes and experienced on different platforms, but working from the same set of prompts.

    Some projects will be open to all, and some will be experienced by very few audience members – and everything is free to attend. We hope you’ll be intrigued to join us for one or many. We’ll roll out updates regularly – so stay tuned! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

  • 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 HopkinsKate 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.

    Click here to learn more & donate to EV Loves NYC

     

    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!

  • Clubbed Thumb & Brown University Virtual Reading Series, December 7th and 9th

    We’re proud to partner with Brown University’s MFA Playwriting Program this fall to bring you readings of two recent graduates’ plays:

    On the Y-Axis by Lucas Baisch, directed by Josiah Davis
    The Executrix by Emma Horwitz, directed by Sarah Blush

    December 7th and 9th at 4pm and 7pm EST – RSVP HERE

  • 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.

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!

2020
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.

An insect.

These constraints apply to the whole play.

2018
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.)

 

2017
For this year’s commission please consider the oeuvre of Caryl Churchill.

We paid particular attention to Top GirlsFen 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.

 

2015
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 singalong

-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

 

2013
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

 

2011
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.

The  Texts
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

The Ingredients
a man in uniform
tobacco
a song
a crappy job
a body part that doesn’t work right
a home with too many inhabitants
a robe
an epilogue
price tags

also:

Joan Baez’s 1968 recording of “Tears of Rage”
and the photo you see before you

 

2009
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.”

2007
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.”

2005
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.
2. Intermissionless
3. Must have a reasonable representation of women, both in quantity and quality of roles
4. At least 3 characters