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Biennial New Play Commission Created

As if to answer the timeworn question "Why aren't there more prizes for playwrights?," the Obie Award–winning theatre company Clubbed Thumb has announced a new play competition that will award a $15,000 commission.

The Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission has been created, according to a written statement from the company, "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," although "the result need not be immediately recognizable as a product of the initial examination." The inaugural theme for the competition bears the intriguing title "Yamashita's Gold."

But before starting their engines, playwrights should be aware of the commission's guidelines: Plays must run 60 to 90 minutes with no intermission, have "a reasonable representation of women, both in quantity and quality of roles," and contain at least three characters (with medium-sized ensembles preferred). The company, which is known for its quirky oeuvre and won a 2000-01 Obie grant for its accomplishments, points out that it produces "funny, strange, and provocative" plays, and "a sense of humor is strongly encouraged."

Clubbed Thumb also reserves the exclusive right to produce the commissioned work for two years from the day the final draft is submitted but is under no obligation to do so, the company states.

Applications will be accepted until July 15. To register, go to A complete application will include a cover page, a letter of intent of no more than 500 words, a resume, a 10-page sample scene of the play being proposed, and a stamped self-addressed postcard. For more information, call (212) 802-8007 or email

The winner will be announced this fall.

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