Feedback: Oh no! – Guest Post by Kay Phillips


By guest blogger (and 2017 ONSTAGE semi-finalist) Kay Phillips


It’s a Saturday in 1993, Mom let you borrow the Ford Taurus and you’re cruising. Sun out, windows down, headed to the mall. With a hopeful heart, you tune the radio to KISS 102.7 hoping to catch that new Ace of Base, it’s-


Ugh. That sizzling, sonic pork fat that screams “nope” in the most obnoxious way possible.

In the writing world, feedback can be a crapshoot. But far too often, I’ve found it similar to that sketchy radio reception. I send out hopes, dreams and effort only to receive noise in return. Not so with the ONSTAGE Peer Review process and here’s why.

First, the ONSTAGE readers are my peers. Womenfolk. Ladies. Not a group of dudes mansplaining what they’re sure I meant to say or flat-out dismissing my work altogether because they don’t “get it.”

Second, there are rules. From jump, Tiffany Antone lays down the law: “…the comments section is an opportunity for you to give *helpful* and constructive feedback to the playwright, or to make notes to us about the script’s running time/sensitive nature/requirement…

“It is not a place for you to practice your snark.”

Yes, honey. YES. I’ve read for several playwriting competitions and let me just say, the level of snark from my fellow readers never ceases to amaze. As a reader, if a piece rubs me the wrong way, it’s my job to let the writer know why. What about that character didn’t ring true? At which point did I lose interest? Comments like “Yuck!” and “What the hell did I just read?” serve no-one. Nobody’s requiring thesis-level analysis, but we owe the writer a modicum of specificity.

Like moms have been telling toddlers for generations: use your words.

Otherwise, it’s just noise.

I’ve been submitting to ONSTAGE for years. Some years I’m accepted and the news is sweet. Totally triumphant, fist-in-the-air Ace of Base moments. Other years, the news is, well… Vengaboys. But it’s always, always news I can use.


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And the 2018 Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival Theme is…

WOW – it’s official!  Our 2018 festival theme is here, and we’ll begin accepting submissions on June 1!  (So check back here on the 1st… but you can get writing now!)

This year’s festival theme is VOLUME CONTROL.  Playwrights are invited to submit short (think 10 minutes or less) plays and/or monologues written on this theme.  In the past we’ve had great success with short scenelets as well (10-minute plays comprised of a couple of scenes, which we can sprinkle throughout the line-up).

**LBDI strongly suggests you do not submit plays or monologues longer than ten minutes.** Keep in mind that in all instances, shorter truly is better.  Plays running longer than ten minutes stand very little chance of making it into the festival, as we strive to produce as many playwrights as possible.

Remember:  Little Black Dress INK utilizes a peer review process for evaluating plays.  By submitting to this fest, you agree to participate in this unique opportunity to help select plays for production.

Once our submission window is closed, you will receive a selection of plays to read and score using the LBDI online eval form.  You MUST read and submit your evaluations by the required date in order for your play to remain in consideration.

Submitted works will be read by other participating playwrights and LBDI artistic personnel.  By submitting to the festival, you agree to share your work for review in this process.

** NEW for 2018**
LBDI will utilize an online submission form this year – DO NOT email scripts to us – please wait for the form to open (June 1) and follow directions there.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

As usual, LBDI will be producing readings of the top scoring plays at locations nation-wide.  The top eight to ten scoring plays will also move on to full production with Little Black Dress INK in 2018.

Submissions will be accepted June 1 – July 15


  • Four time ONSTAGE Playwright, Jen Huszcza, and I talk about the ONSTAGE festival and what I’m looking for in festival submissions HERE
  • I’ve also written a few tips for submitting to short-play festivals HERE and shared some thoughts on how I build our festival line-ups HERE

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2017 ONSTAGE Semi-Finalist Readings: Sedona, AZ

We have been fortunate enough to have Kate Hawkes involved in the Female Playwrights ONSTAGE Festival every year since its inception!  She’s participated as a playwright, actress, director, and for the past four years, as a partner producer through her company Red Earth Theatre!  We ADORE her, and this year we are thrilled to have her participating again as a playwright, director, and partner producer.  You can read more about Kate below, along with our other fabulous Sedona semi-finalists… then get your booty over to the Sedona Hub on May 23rd at 7pm for a fabulous night of plays by these awesome female playwrights!

Pusherman, by Kay Phillips

Kay Phillips is an award-winning screenwriter and internationally produced playwright. Her stage plays have been performed on five continents, including performances in London, Sydney, Toronto, and Johannesburg. In 2015, her full-length play “The Ladies of Friscitana, Texas” was workshopped with the Modern Day Griot Theatre Company in Brooklyn, NY and her play “She Keeps This Family Together” debuted off-off Broadway with The Gallery Players in NYC. Upcoming projects include the world premiere of her play “The Unders” in Los Angeles. Kay is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and lives in Arizona.

Gel Us, by Paige Zubel     

Paige Zubel is a recent graduate of the University of Houston where she received her BFA in Playwriting and Dramaturgy. She is an internationally produced playwright, with notable productions in her hometown of Houston, TX (Sunday Flowers, $12.50/Hour), New York City (The Pull of the Moon, In Full Bloom), and Scotland (Under Covers). Her script The Pull of the Moon is published through One Act Play Depot. She is presently a Literary Intern at InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia. See more at

Benchwarmer, by Miranda Ray

Miranda Ray was raised on a small island in the Pacific Northwest. At present she travels and works full-time as a ghostwriter. Visit her online at, or find her on Instagram!


Mel and Mona, by Suzanne Bailie

Suzanne Bailie wrote her first play while living on a coffee farm in the jungles of Hawaii. It was produced by a local theatre company and she hasn’t stopped hitting the keyboard since. Suzanne is a member of the playwright group, Driftwood after Dark, located in Edmonds, Washington.  A couple of her favorite activities are drinking strong coffee, creating colorful donkey collages.  Her short plays and monologues have been produced across the United States, United Kingdom, South America, South Korea and Australia. Her published plays include, The Raspberry, Baby Jesus Does Not Kill Ninja Zombies and The Blankie.  Suzanne’s inventive and quirky poetry continues to be included in many anthologies and magazines.

The Scorpion and The Songbird, by Marguerite Louise Scott

Marguerite Louise Scott is an actress and writer whose play “Not Me” was produced in the 2010 Estrogenius Festival in NYC and published in the 2010 Book of Estro. She performed her solo show, Collage: “True” Stories from the Inside, at Coho Theatre in Portland, Oregon. She currently lives in Santa Fe, NM where her short play, Pigeons, was produced in the 2016 Benchwarmers Series at the Santa Fe Playhouse. She studied acting with Barbara Marchant at the William Esper Studio in NYC and is currently playing the role of “jovial, stupid and unpleasant-looking” Parsons in a play version of George Orwell’s frighteningly current and relevant novel, 1984, running March 30th – April 16th at the Santa Fe Playhouse. She is also creating a book about hiking with her Siamese cat, Puffin, as well as a full-length play dealing with sexual assault, politics, and cover-ups.

The Worst of All Evils, by Philana Omorotionmwan   

Philana Omorotionmwan is originally from Baton Rouge, LA. Her writing frequently explores how the processes by which we are “othered” can often restrict us from experiencing the fullest expression of ourselves. Her play BEFORE EVENING COMES was developed as part of the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Br!nk New Play Festival, and the La MaMa Experiments Series. FIREFLIES has been developed at the UC Berkeley TDPS New Play Reading Series and STRONG FACE was recognized by KCACTF Region II as a Finalist for the NPAT Award. Production of Philana’s short plays includes THE SETTLEMENT (Ensemble Studio Theatre) and BLACK BOYS DON’T DANCE (Manhattan Theatre Source), and her ten-minute play DIS DA HOOD was a finalist for the 2016 Heideman Award. Philana earned her BA from Stanford University and is currently pursuing an MFA in Playwriting at Ohio University.

Pebbles to Butterflies, by Kate Hawkes

**In addition to being one this year’s semi-finalists, Kate is also our Sedona Partner Producer!  Learn more about Kate below, and be sure to visit to learn about her theatre company, Red Earth!**

Originally from Australia, Kate holds degrees in Education and Counseling, and an MFA in Directing from the University of Portland. She is a freelance theatre professional, educator, and Horse Gentler/Guide for Communication.

Kate created Performing Wellness ™ and later co-founded the Well Arts Institute in Portland, Oregon. While there she created, produced and directed 7 Performing Wellness productions working with partners including Oregon Health Sciences University, the VA, the MS Society and different theatre companies. She was the Education/Outreach Director and Artistic Associate at Artists Repertory Theatre, (Portland) and was adjunct faculty in the Theatre & Communications department for 18 years at Linfield College.

She is co-founder (2013) and Producing Artistic Director of Red Earth Theatre based in Sedona, Arizona, currently operating as ‘nomadic’ theatre partnering with different organizations creating theatre all over the place. Red Earth also manages Sedona Hub a new performing arts venue available to the entire community.

Kate has worked in all aspects of theatre from management to teaching, producing directing, acting and writing. Playwriting credits include Sky….Diamonds, a full length play about a family living with Alzheimer’s, nominated for a Flagstaff Arts Council Viola Award in 2014. Loplop and the Queen, was written for the week-long celebration of surrealists artists Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning and played March 2015 at the Sedona Heritage Museum in Sedona.

For way more go to





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ONSTAGE 2017 Semi-Finalist Readings: Los Angeles, CA

Who’s looking to spend time amongst some of the most AWESOME female artists in LA this Sunday?  Well, get your calendars out, because you are in luck!  The Los Angeles installment of our 2017 ONSTAGE semi-finalist readings will go up at this Saturday (May 21) @ 2 pm at the always awesome Samuel French Bookshop (located at 7623 Sunset Blvd., 90046) !  This year’s event is hosted by the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative, with wrangler-in-chief (and fabulous playwright in her own right) Jennie Webb doing her magic to make it all go like butter.  Jennie and the LAFPI have assembled such a kick ass roster of talent for this reading that we kind of can’t handle it.  So make sure you get your booty over to the Samuel French Bookshop (7623 Sunset Blvd., 90046) this Sunday, May 21st at 2pm for some fantastic new plays helmed by fantastic LA directors, and performed by fantastic LA actors!

And in the mean time, why not read up on the fab female playwrights whose work you’ll be going to hear?

HOT/MESS by Jen Huszcza

Jen Huszcza is a playwright currently based in Los Angeles.  Five of Jen’s plays (Rinse, POP, Flowers, This, and Big Belly) were performed in Little Black Dress INK’s first five Women Onstage festivals. Big Belly and This were also read at Theatre N16’s Herstory Festivals in Balham, UK. Her short play, It Has to End in Tears, was produced by Greenlight Productions in Santa Monica in March 2015. Four of her plays have been presented as staged readings in the Monday Night Living Room Series at The Blank Theatre in Hollywood.  BFA in Dramatic Writing and MFA in Musical Theatre Writing both from NYU.  **Jen has two plays in this year’s semi-finalist list: HOT/MESS and SNAKES**

Something Wicked, by Elizabeth Coplan

Elizabeth Coplan is a forty+-year PR and marketing veteran. She is an author (most recently Just a Little More Time) and playwright. Her critically acclaimed play Hospice: A Love Story (also an LBDI semi-finalist) ran for six weeks at the Group Rep in Los Angeles in the summer of 2016. During the run, Elizabeth discovered that sharing her own story about death and grief encouraged others to share their grief stories. Fellow playwrights sent her short plays on the topic, and out of grief came art in the form of the Grief Dialogues.

Grief Dialogues is an artistic movement and website supporting essential and healthy conversations. It is also a live theatre production and will premiere on September 8, 2017 at the Seattle Death Salon co-sponsored with University of Washington School of Social Work, the Order of the Good Death, People’s Memorial. The 90-minute production is followed by a discussion moderated by grief counselor Dr. Sharon Stanley.

Elizabeth is president of the board for People’s Memorial in Seattle, Washington and a trustee of Bainbridge Performing Arts on Bainbridge Island where she lives.

Zero-Six-Two-Eight, by Katherine James

Katherine James (MFA from A.C.T.) has been in the theatre since her father first put her onstage in one of his shows at the age of five. An accomplished actress and director as well as playwright, she currently makes her home in Los Angeles where she is part of The Athena Cats ( the Theatricum Botanicum Company and on The Seedlings (new plays) Committee. Recent projects include multiple productions of her play, THE PLAN including The GLO Project and Hall Pass. Several of her shows have been produced as part of Little Black Dress Ink. A proud member of LAFPI, her company, Free Association Theatre, has helped produce L.A.’s Swan

Boxes Are Magic, by Allie Costa

ALLIE COSTA is an actress, writer, director, singer, and voiceover artist. Her theatre credits include Spring Awakening, Hamlet, Pope Joan, Alien vs. Musical, and Wake. Film/TV credits include 90210, Unusual Suspects, Solace, and You Me & Her. She has also appeared in commercials, narrated audio books, and lent her voice to video games. A published playwright and screenwriter, Allie’s original works have been produced internationally, including Femme Noir (Best Script, 2015 One-Act Festival), Don’t Shoot the Messenger Pigeon (Barrington Stage Company 10×10 New Play Festival), She Has Seen the Wolf (Best of PlayGround-LA), A Taste of the Future, and Can You Keep a Secret? Her critically-acclaimed duologue Two Girls has been performed in Los Angeles, New York, London, Ireland, and otherwhere. Her dream role? Starring in the TV series she wrote and created. Watch for it.

Mommy Knows Best,  by Tiffany Antone

Tiffany’s plays have been read and/or performed in Los Angeles, New York, D.C., and Minneapolis.  Her play Twigs and Bone was a 2014 Great Plains Conference selection and received a developmental workshop production by Acadiana Repertory Theatre in 2015. Tiffany’s play The Low Tide Gang was a 2016 O’Neil semi-finalist and her play Cricket Woman Mother Earth (or) A Nasty Comeuppance, was a 2011 O’Neil finalist. Her plays Ana and the Closet and Twigs and Bone were both Jerome Finalists and O’Neil semi-finalists for 2009 & 2010.  Her play The Good Book is available through Samuel French. Tiffany is also a contributing writer for and

You can find Tiffany’s plays on the National New Play Exchange, or read more about her work at

Priorities, by Teresa Peterson

Teresa is a writer, director and actor who honed her talents in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her plays have been performed in the San Miguel International Diez Minutos Festival and in Ashland, Oregon’s Moonlight Festival. New works with hints of dark comedy are in the wings.

Writing a ten minute play is a challenge. Grab the audience, get to the point as quickly as possible and resolve the situation in reality-time, all the while, keeping the viewer engaged and unsuspecting of the play’s outcome. And, of course, there’s all that dialogue. But, I love dialogue, snappy not sappy.

“Priorities” is real time…decisions and choices to be made ‘in the now’. Haven’t we all been there, tackling a truly difficult decision in the moment? Gregory and Claire’s particularly uncanny situation       gives new meaning into how to deal with the improbable.   Of course, there are consequences.

Lesbian Lipstick, by Allison L. Fradkin

Allison L. Fradkin is quite the play girl. Scriptly speaking, her plays lift the curtain on topics and populations that are often upstaged: women, queer folk, people of colorful stories. Her work has been featured in festivals with Modern-Day Griot Theatre Company, Theatre Out, Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga, The Kennedy Center, 20% Theatre Chicago, and The Women’s Theatre Project, among others. As a complement to her playwriting endeavors, Allison performs in community theatre, inhabits the role of Literary Manager for Pride Films & Plays, and acts as Dramatist for Special Gifts Theatre by adapting scripts for actors with disabilities. Currently, she is working on a musical parody of The Golden Girls commissioned by Chicago’s Gorilla Tango Theatre. Visit Allison backstage at

Co-Workers, by CJ Ehrlich

C.J. Ehrlich’s award-winning plays have been performed in many states, notably of undress and panic, around the US and on five continents. Full-lengths include: The Cupcake Conspiracy: “Terrorism is Easy. Marriage is Complicated” (w/Philip J. Kaplan): performed in NE, TX, HI, WA, NY; finalist, Getchell award; Mountain Playhouse International Comedy competition. Zane to Gate 69 (TX, AK) The Maltese Babka (NY, AK). Published: Best American Short Plays of 2014-15 (Applause/Hal Leonard); five S&K Best Ten-Minute Plays anthologies; Heuer: Rutledge. C.J. is thrilled and honored to again be part of the Female Playwrights Onstage project with her brand new piece, Co-Workers (no heroes were harmed in the writing of this play). With great appreciation to the actors, Kila, Jennie, and Tiffany, who makes all good things happen. Visit at






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Girl, You Know Its True Colors: Guest Post


By 2017 ONSTAGE semi-finalist, Allison Fradkin



Lipstick on your teeth means you’re messy.

Lipstick on your collar means you’ve messed around.

Lipstick on your stage means you’re a hot mess, a circuitous compliment that also applies to the characters appearing in my play, “Lesbian Lipstick.”

The superficial synopsis:

The Very Gay Cosmetics company not only takes pride in their products; they put pride in them. But what happens when their products become contaminated? Chick Van Dyke, a Very Gay beauty consultant, is about to find out. When a customer crashes her product demonstration party, Chick is disappointed to discover that ever since the woman began wearing Very Gay’s cosmetics, she’s been, well, keeping a straight face. Can Chick and company solve the mystery of the disappearing dykedom?

The exfoliated explanation:

I set the story in the 1980s, a time when society was at once progressive and regressive. In our quest to go back to the future, specifically the clean-cut white-bread conservatism of the nifty fifties, we revived the sexism, heterosexism, and consumerism exuberant in that era.

“Lesbian Lipstick” enables five women to deconstruct these timeless institutions. They do so with the help of something seemingly superficial but conspicuously compulsory: make-up. For these women, wearing cosmetics is not a means of concealing their true selves. It is a way of signifying their desire to shatter stereotypes, subvert gender norms, and reject and resist all the insidious “isms.” Thanks to Very Gay Cosmetics, the ladies are able to lay the foundation for a revolution in which women of all sexual orientations can beautify (and beaut-defy) societal roles and expectations.

Parity is part and parcel of prosperity, and the characters that make up “Lesbian Lipstick” inhabit an alternate universe in which being gay and lesbian is acceptable. But anything that deviates from that inflexible either/or binary is initially cause for suspicion and censure. The lesbians have fought long and hard to attain the same rights as their gay male counterparts, so what will happen when they encounter someone whose sexuality is queer-cut but not clear-cut?


Let’s hope there’s a pot of lip gloss at the end of the rainbow.

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ONSTAGE 2017 Semi-Finalist Readings: Jacksonville, AL

WOW – our second ONSTAGE reading of 2017 is happening this Saturday, May 6th at 2pm at Jacksonville State University!  We are super excited to have Nick Hoenshell, a super talented director, helming the reading.  If you’re in the area, please check it out – you’ll get to see some awesome new plays including the following:


Laura Neill is a Boston playwright whose work centers on strong women. Her play Don’t Give Up the Ship premiered with Fresh Ink Theatre this February. Her play Cap, or, El Límite is currently a semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Laura was an affiliate of the 2016 Company One PlayLab, and her play Skin and Bones was a semi-finalist for the 2016 Princess Grace Fellowship. She won the Eleanor Frost Playwriting Award in 2012 for her plays Conditions and Fall. Laura is earning her MFA in Playwriting at Boston University. She has been commissioned to write the book of OperaHub’s feminist pastiche fantasy piece, which will premiere in Fall 2017. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, StageSource, and the New England New Play Alliance, for whom she co-edited the New England New Play Anthology. Learn more HERE or read her work on the New Play Exchange.

My Pretty Pink Rifle, by Jennifer Walton      

Jennifer Walton is Co-Director of The Creative Theatre Company, teaching acting to talented young people for over 25 years. Most recently she directed The Tragedy of Othella Moore at the Hamilton Ontario Fringe Festival where it won the Best of Fringe award. She is also a storyteller, actor, and emerging playwright.  She is thrilled to be a part of the ONSTAGE festival again this year. 


Hijab, by Andrea Fleck Clardy 

Andrea Fleck Clardy lives in Boston. Her short plays and monologues have been widely produced. HEARTLAND and THE MAGIC FISH were included in Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2016 (Smith and Kraus). Her one-act WE’VE COME THIS FAR was chosen for this summer’s Last Frontier Conference and is a semi-finalist for the LaBute New Play Festival. Full-length plays include HIDE AND SEEK with music by Clark Gesner, and JOB LOSS FIGURE, a semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award and O’Neill National Theater Conference. Since its premiere at the Estrogenius Festival, HIJAB has been produced by Boston Theater Marathon, LA Short and Sweet, Our Voices, and Santa Paula Theater, and has been filmed by the Intimate Eye Program at BRIC in Brooklyn. Andrea is a member of the Dramatists Guild, StageSource, and the National Writers’ Union.

Apocalypse Fatigue, by Jodie Leidecker         

Jodie Leidecker attended Berea College and Eastern Kentucky University. She has had plays performed as part of NYC’s Bad Theatre Fest, Equity Library Theatre’s Winter Festival, the Artists Without Walls Showcase, and Casa de Beverly.


Snakes, by Jen Huszcza        

Jen Huszcza is a playwright currently based in Los Angeles.  Five of Jen’s plays (Rinse, POP, Flowers, This, and Big Belly) were performed in Little Black Dress INK’s first five Women Onstage festivals. Big Belly and This were also read at Theatre N16’s Herstory Festivals in Balham, UK. Her short play, It Has to End in Tears, was produced by Greenlight Productions in Santa Monica in March 2015. Four of her plays have been presented as staged readings in the Monday Night Living Room Series at The Blank Theatre in Hollywood.  BFA in Dramatic Writing and MFA in Musical Theatre Writing both from NYU.

Killing Barbie, by Sharon Goldner                   

Sharon Goldner is this chick who perpetuates the notion that crazy is just a frame of mind.  Her writing goal is to make audiences laugh at things they feel guilty for laughing at because that’s her idea of fun, and she thinks folks are just too darn serious a lot of the time.  Sharon’s award-winning (and published) plays have been performed in theaters all across the country from Off Broadway to Los Angeles, and in-between.  She was a 2014 fellowship recipient with Newfoundland’s SheSaidYes! Theatre, and is a member of The Dramatists Guild.  Her short stories have been published in literary journals all over the U.S.A, and in England.  Sharon is president of the Tiffany Antone is a Theater Goddess Fan Club. Tweet her @SharGoldner

Bird, by  Kira Rockwell            

Kira Rockwell is a playwright from Dallas, Texas. Currently she is a playwriting MFA candidate at Boston University. Kira’s plays have been produced and or developed with WaterTower Theatre, Theatre@First, Goat Song Theatre Collective, Little Black Dress INK, Southwestern College, Baylor University, and Boston University. She has participated in the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival (2015, 2016) and Alaska’s Last Frontier Theatre Conference (2016). As a teaching artist, Kira is passionate about working with youth artists. Currently, she is a resident theatre artist at Hyde Square Task Force in Boston’s Latin Quarter where she is developing an original musical called EL BARRIO. She is an alumna of Baylor University where she received her BFA in Theatre Performance (2014). Kira is a proud member of The Dramatist Guild. Her and her husband Mark reside in Boston, MA with their sweet lab mutt of love, Koda.

We also need to share some love with our Jacksonville Partner Producer…

Nick Hoenshell is the technical director at Jacksonville State University. He holds an MFA in directing from Baylor University where he first became involved with Little Black Dress INK’s female playwright festival. This is Nick’ s second engagement with the festival, and he is delighted to be helping out once again.

Thank you, Nick, for inviting Little Black Dress INK and our 2017 ONSTAGE playwrights to Jacksonville!  We hope you join us again next year – your work on this year’s festival has been AWESOME! 





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Guest Blogger: 2017 Semi-Finalist Allie Costa

In my play BOXES ARE MAGIC, Yasmine and Cali have very different views of the world. Most of what Cali sees, she sees from the window; she never leaves the house. What will happen when the outside world comes crashing in?

BOXES ARE MAGIC was inspired by a prompt for PlayGround-LA’s Planet Earth Arts New Play Festival, which encouraged playwrights to write 10-minute plays exploring issues of planetary sustainability and caring for the natural world as well as caring for others.

Anyone who has ever cared for a pet knows the joy and frustration that comes with that responsibility, as well as the yearning to protect your pets from the outside world, to keep them safe, always. On December 4th, 2015, Quebec approved a bill officially recognizing animals as sentient beings with biological needs. According to Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, “Until this law was passed, there was no distinction between a car and a cat in terms of legal rights. Anyone who has ever lived with a pet knows that animals experience emotions and feel both physical and psychological pain, but this is the first time in North America that these basic truths have been entrenched in law.”

BOXES ARE MAGIC takes a global issue and brings it home: We meet Yasmine and Cali at a tumultuous point in their lives, as their relationship is tested by something neither of them could have anticipated. What begins as a comedy is revealed to be more than meets the eye, and it ties into this year’s LBDI theme “hot mess” in a creative and compassionate way.

Global warming has significantly increased the number and size of wildfires on the planet. In August 2016, over 82,000 Southern California residents were forced to evacuate when an uncontrollable fire engulfed an area larger than the size of San Francisco. The National Wildlife Federation estimates that the overall area burned in the western United States will double by late this century. Experts predict that 25%-37% of Earth’s species will be headed for extinction by 2050 if the warming trend continues at its current rate.

We have to care for each other. We have to care for our planet. We should use our energy in a positive way, and fuel our actions with compassion and kindness.


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Guest Blogger: 2017 semi-finalist Jen Huszcza

Where is the mess?

Recently, a local theatre group did a reading of Act One of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child at the local library. After the reading, the actors led an audience discussion.

An older lady sitting behind me asked about Shepard’s acting career and whether it had any impact on his writing. Naturally, the actors were all about how acting makes for better playwriting. Naturally, Jen’s brain started shouting NO! NO! NO!

Then, Jen raised her hand.

Then Jen’s steamroller of a brain flattened them all with words like writer’s voice and physicality and American Myth and novelists and James Joyce and on and on. I felt like Hamlet’s whore unpacking my heart with words. When I finally stopped talking, the room was awkwardly silent for a few seconds. Oooops!

I tell you this story because recently Tiffany and I were emailing back and forth about the state of playwriting and the Hot Mess script submissions. I lamented the lack of mess and immediacy in the plays I read, and Tiffany asked me to write a blog.

As I sat at my keyboard with my notes next to me, I realized I had a whole new opportunity to once again steamroll over the current theatre, but I didn’t want to be a blogging blabbermouth. What did I know anyway? I’m not successful by American standards. I’m awkward in large groups.

I was sailing a boat when I heard that this year’s Onstage theme was Hot Mess. Adding the word hot to my mess gave my playwright brain a lot of dynamite. Hot mess made me think of Satan, snakes, beer, and dead bodies being dug up, and I sent in a bunch of short pieces.

Because I submitted more than one piece, I received a big bundle of exquisite short plays and monologues to peer-review. At this point, I was back on land and excited to see what the other hot messes were.

I read some gems, but I also noticed two things about the less gemmy.

First, time. In the less gemmy, there was a lot of talk of the past. So much talk of the past that I found myself waiting for the play to start six pages in. Yes, I understand that exposition is a bitch. When I have ten minutes, I don’t have time for secrets. I don’t have time to be coy. I need to get to the point and beyond it.

There is also a big difference between saying, I was mean to I am mean. There’s more energy in present tense. It leads to a future which is uncertain. If something is in past tense, it only leads to now, and I’m looking at now right now.

Second, mess. Where is the mess? Mess doesn’t have to visual. It could be psychological or emotional. A character could be a mess. A situation in its awkwardness or strangeness could be a mess.

I have learned that actual mess is difficult for short play festivals because transitions between plays happen quickly. At the first Onstage Festival back in 2011, I watched the stage crew towel down the stage because I had water splash in my play. The towels got a round of applause.

So, given the theme Hot Mess, how do you create mess? When I write plays, I don’t have to be nice or neat. I can make a mess and not worry about cleaning it up. When I write plays, I can let the steamroller go and unpack the heart with words.

To quote Ms Imbrie in The Philadelphia Story: it’s all right Tracy, we go haywire at times and if we don’t, maybe we ought to.

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Guest Blogger: 2017 semi-finalist playwright, Katherine James

I read the words “Hot Mess” and I know immediately who needs to come out of my heart and mind and onto the page.


I meet dozens of dozens of people every year in my “other” life as a trial consultant.

Most of those relationships are bright and brief. Intense and temporary. Fearless and fleeting.

Exactly like those I have had in the theatre since I was a kid.

But then every once-in-a-while there is someone who I just can’t let go of.

Whose story and life terrify me.

Trial consultants who do research tell me that there is a psychological principle that when we hear a tale of woe we immediately to figure out how that could never happen to us.

To show you how much this principle not only haunts my work but me I can never remember what it is called.


You’ll tell me what it is again and I will say, “Right, right, that’s it!” and immediately forget it.

I spend so much time trying to figure out how to make the story of the trial case not get overwhelmed by this principle you’d think that alone would sear the name on my memory.

But I know the truth.

That I, too, am afraid.

Afraid that what happened to any given person I meet could happen to me.

Every once in a while I meet someone who simply bowls me over with the terror of waking up to that person’s face being the one that greets me in the mirror when I wake up from a pleasant dream.

That the horror of that person’s life is suddenly my own.

Paul was an is one of those people.

I can’t imagine anything worse than to go from being a smart, accomplished, happy and ambitious person to having a brain that is a “Hot Mess”.

The crazy thing is, I’ve met a lot of people whose brains are now, through no fault of their own, a “Hot Mess”.

But for some reason they are able to accept, adapt, do the best they can with what they’ve got, make a new meaningful life…to blow me away since secretly I always doubt seriously I could ever be one of them.

Maybe that’s what haunts me so about Paul.

Neither can he.

Now the case is won.

The circus tent of the trial has folded its tent and left town.

A teary eyed jury decided to award Paul ever-so-much-but-never-enough-to-make-life-what-it-was dollars from the company that didn’t give a rat’s ass about him when they made his brain a “Hot Mess”.

And so I offer him here to you.

All wrapped up with my greatest fears.

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ONSTAGE 2017 Semi-Finalists!

It’s finally here… the 2017 ONSTAGE Semi-Finalist list!

We had so many great plays and monologues submitted this year, and we want to thank all of the playwrights who submitted work and participated in our peer review – you ladies ROCK!

Our Minneapolis reading already took place, but you will be able to catch readings of them over the next few months in Sedona, AZ; Prescott, AZ; Jacksonville, AL; and Los Angeles, CA!  We’ll be posting more information about each location, along with dates, in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this year’s list of fab female playwrights:

Apocalypse Fatigue, by Jodie Leidecker

Benchwarmer, by Miranda Ray

Bird, by Kira Rockwell

Bodega Pricing, by Reina Hardy

Boxes Are Magic, by Allie Costa

Co-Workers, by CJ Ehrlich

Even Educated Fleas Do It, by Karen Loseff Lothan

Evolution Fast Track, by Micki Shelton

Full Circle, by Mikki Russ

Gel Us, by Paige Zubel

Hijab, by Andrea Fleck Clardy

Hot/Mess, by Jen Huszcza

Interview With An Old Bitch, by Susan C. Forrest

Just Deal, by Robin Brooks

Killing Barbie, by Sharon Goldner

Lesbian Lipstick, by Allison L. Fradkin


Linda, by Diana Burbano

Mel and Mona, by Suzanne Bailie

Mommy Knows Best, by Tiffany Antone

My Pretty Pink Rifle, by Jennifer Walton

Pebbles to Butterflies, by Kate Hawkes

Priorities, byTeresa Peterson

Pusherman, by Kay Phillips

Snakes, by Jen Huszcza

Something Wicked, by Elizabeth Coplan

Spark, by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich

Springful, by Bex Frankeberger

Take Me, by Esther Marcella Hoffmann

The Fruit Salad of Shame, by Ellen Davis Sullivan

The Scorpion and The Songbird, by Marguerite Louise Scott

The Worst of All Evils, by Philana Omorotionmwan

Three Ghosts of Elizabeth Bathory, by Anne Flanagan

What’ll It Be?, by Amber Bosworth

Zero-Six-Two-Eight, by Katherine James




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