Hosted by Emory University, Theater Emory, and The Playwriting Center of Theater Emory, Atlanta, Georgia
First Place Award: Cash prize and professional production
Second Place Award: Cash prize and possible workshop production or concert reading
Honorable Mentions: Public reading
Deadline for submission: August 31st, 2020. (See below for EMOS Guidelines, and instructions.)
The Earth Matters on Stage (EMOS) Ecodrama Playwrights Festival was founded in 2004 by Theresa May and Larry Fried in order to call forth and foster new dramatic works that respond to the ecological crisis, and, as part of that response, to explore new possibilities of being in relationship with the more-than-human world. EMOS calls for new plays that not only focus on current and historic environmental issues, but also looks for plays that enliven and transform our experience of the world around us, that inspire us to listen better, and instill a deeper or more complex sense of our ecological communities. If your play does any of these things, send it to us!
The EMOS Festival includes workshop performance(s) of the winning script(s), play readings, talkbacks and discussions of the scripts that are finalists in the Ecodrama Playwrights’ Contest. The concurrent symposium will include speakers, panels, practice-based workshops, and discussions that advance scholarship in the area of arts, ecology and climate change, and help foster development of new works. EMOS has been hosted by producing institutions across the U.S. including Humboldt State/Del Arte Theatre (2004); Univ. of Oregon (2009); Carnegie Mellon University (2012); Univ. of Nevada-Reno (2015); Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage (2018).
Guidelines for Playwrights
Scripts must be original works which have not been published and have not had an Equity or full professional premiere production. (Readings or informal workshop productions are okay.)
In general, we are looking for plays that do one or more of the following:
- Engage the personal, local, regional and/or global implications of man-made climate change.
- Put an ecological issue or environmental event/crisis at the center of the dramatic action or theme of the play.
- Critique or satirize patterns of exploitation, consumption, or other ingrained values that are ecologically unsustainable.
- Expose and illuminate issues of environmental justice.
- Explore the relationship between sustainability, community, and cultural diversity.
- Interpret community to include our ecological community; give voice or character to the land, or elements of the land; theatrically examine the reciprocal relationship between human, animal and plant communities; and/or the connection between people and place, human and non-human, culture and nature.
- Grow out of the playwright’s personal relationship to the land and the ecology of a specific place.
- Celebrate the joy of the ecological world in which humans participate.
- Offer an imagined world view that illuminates our ecological condition or reflects on the ecological crisis from a unique cultural or philosophical perspective.
- Are written specifically to be performed in an unorthodox venue such as a natural or environmental setting, and for which that setting is a not merely a backdrop, but an integral part of the intention of the play.
EMOS 2021 hosted by Emory University specifically encourages submissions which also:
- Engage with cultural and social impacts of man-made climate change.
- Offer or complicate ideas of urban resilience.
- Expose and/or grapple with environmental in/justice.
- Expose and/or grapple with ecological violence and/or “slow violence.”
- Examine ecological/climate/environmental justice issues specific to the Southeast United States.
We are looking for full-length plays that are written primarily (though not necessarily exclusively) in English. Submitted plays should address the thematic guidelines as listed above. Deadline: August 31st, 2020.
Please note: we will NOT consider:
- ten-minute plays
- one-act plays (unless they are longer than 30 minutes in length)
- musicals (though we love them, we cannot financially accommodate their production for this festival!)
We are only accepting electronic submissions in PDF format. Please do not submit paper manuscripts, as they will not be considered.
- Submissions are online. Go to https://www.judgify.me/emosplays
- If you are a first-time user of Judgify, create a profile by clicking the link underneath the “submit an entry” button.
- Upload a PDF copy of your script with NO IDENTIFYING MARKS (beyond the play’s title).
Submissions due by August 31, 2020.
A Reading Committee composed of theatre professionals and Emory University students will read and evaluate each script in relation to the guidelines above, as well as theatricality, and overall quality. Each play will receive evaluation from a minimum of 2 readers. Highly-scored plays from the first round will be read again by the Reading Committee until a short list of 5 finalists are determined.
Those five plays will be read in a blind process by a panel of distinguished theatre artists from the USA and Canada and the artistic director of Theatre Emory, who will choose the winning plays from five final scripts. Our 2021 judges will be announced soon.
Past EMOS judges have included: Robert Schenkkan, playwright; Martha Lavey, Artistic Director, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL; José Cruz González, playwright; Ellen McLaughlin, playwright; Timothy Bond, Director, Head of PATP, University of Washington; Olga Sanchez, former Artistic Director, Teatro Milagro, Portland, OR; Diane Glancy, playwright; Marie Clements, playwright, British Columbia; Rob Koon, Chicago Dramatist Guild; Wendy Arons, dramaturg Carnegie Mellon Univ; Alison Carey, Director, American Revolutions, Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Chantal Bilodeau, Arctic Cycle; Randy Reinholz, Artistic Director, Native Voices at the Autry; Jonathon Taylor, EMOS 2015 Chair; Larry Fried, EMOS co-founder; Theresa May, EMOS Artistic Director; Brian Cook, EMOS Managing Director.
Past EMOS Winners
2017 – Rain and Zoe Save the World by Crystal Skillman
In Rain and Zoe Save the World, two Seattle teenagers embark on an impulsive motorcycle journey to join a group of oil protesters on the east coast. But as they follow a major pipeline across the country, what began as two young activists’ longing to belong to something greater than themselves gives way to Rain and Zoe discovering that the true danger in this world might just be growing up.
Produced by Brian Cook, University of Alaska, EMOS 2017
2015 – Thirst by MEH Lewis & Anita Chandwaney
In an “untouchable” Indian village crippled by drought, an intrepid young reporter investigates the corrupt water delivery system. But when her sister suddenly disappears, the investigation becomes personal.
Produced by Jonathon Taylor at University of Nevada Reno, EMOS 2015.
2012 – Sila, the first play of The Arctic Cycle, by Chantal Bilodeau
A climate scientist, an Inuit activist and her daughter, two Canadian Coast Guard Officers, an Inuit Elder, and a polar bear—see their values challenged as their lives become intricately intertwined. Sila received its premiere in a joint production of the Underground Railway Theatre and Center Square Theatre, Boston, in 2015, and was recently published by Talon Books.
Produced by Wendy Arons at Carnegie Mellon University, EMOS 2012.
2009 – Song of Extinction, by EM Lewis
A musically talented teen and his father whose mother/wife is dying come to understand the deeper meanings of extinction from a Cambodian science teacher. Song of Extinction premiered at the Moving Arts Theatre in Los Angeles and was recently published by Samuel French.
Produced by Theresa May at University of Oregon, EMOS 2009.
2004 – Odin’s Horse, by Chicago playwright Rob Koon
A writer learns something about integrity from a tree sitter and a lumber company executive, went on to premier in Chicago in 2006.
Produced by Theresa May and Larry Fried at Humboldt State University, EMOS 2004.
For inquiries about script submissions contact Chantal Bilodeau at firstname.lastname@example.org
For inquiries about EMOS 2021 contact Lydia Fort, EMOS 2021 Chair, at email@example.com
Theresa May, MFA/PhD
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for Theatre Arts
University of Oregon
 Guidelines copyright Theresa May 2004, 2019, EMOS position paper, 2004. Reprint or excerption only with permission and citation.