Clauder Competition

The Clauder Competition is a playwriting award hosted by Portland Stage and open to all New England playwrights.

For over three decades, the Clauder Competition has been New England’s most prestigious playwriting award. It was created in 1981 by Jeb Brooks, who continues to underwrite the program, The Clauder celebrates the distinctive voices of our region’s playwrights and brings their work to the attention of the greater theatrical community. The Clauder Competition identifies exciting new works by New England playwrights and ensures their successful launch through readings and productions at Portland Stage, which adjudicates the competition and provides a creative home for the winning playwright.

The goal of the Clauder Competition for New England playwrights is to provide exposure, encouragement and critical feedback to promising playwrights who typically receive little more than a return postcard for material they send to theaters and producers. Past winners or finalists who have launched successful playwriting careers include Tom Coash, Adam Bock, Laura Harrington, Elizabeth Egloff, Bridget Carpenter, Melinda Lopez, Liz Duffy Adams, William Donnelly, Kim Rosenstock, and Pulitzer Prize-winners Quiara Alegria Hudes and Paula Vogel.

2012 Clauder Winner, Veils by Tom Coash was nominated for American Theatre Critics Association’s New Play Award. Read more about the play and the award here.

Clauder Prizes

Clauder Grand Prize: a $3,000 cash award, and a workshop production followed by a full production at Portland Stage during the 2016-17 season.

Gold Prizes: $1,250 cash awards each, plus a workshop production at Portland Stage.

Additional prizes will also be awarded to the best play from each of the six New England states.

The 2015 Clauder Grand Prize winner

String Around my Finger by Brenda Withers

Emma and Kip are preparing for their upcoming wedding when a medical emergency upends their plans. As they careen through the halls of the local hospital, they are joined by a bitingly funny nurse, a helpful relative who is ready to run their lives and the mysterious Mrs. Rizzo who offers sage advice.  In a swirl of medical bills, Sinatra tunes and cell phones, Emma and Kip try to make sense of their new reality.

Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 pm. Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 pm.

The 2015 Gold Prize winners

Dying to Know, A Tale of Life and Death in Two Acts by David Butler

Dying to Know is a comic exploration of our struggles to come to terms with death. It is the story of a relationship between a woman who is a hospice patient and the somewhat hapless hospice volunteer whom she befriends. In Butler’s play, a death-obsessed woman confronts her biggest fears in a relationship that changes her life.

Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00 pm. Saturday, May 4 at 4:00 pm.

Sofonisba by Callie Kimball

Based on true events, Sofonisba Anguissola is a painter from Italy, trained by Michaelangelo himself. Her talents are called upon to be the court painter for Spain’s King Philip and Queen Isabel.  Sofonisba is headstrong, intelligent, and incredibly talented. She has refused to marry, and only claims love for her work and God.  She becomes a friend and tutor to the Queen, respected in the court, and ultimately is pursued by a potential husband, and encouraged to take this suitor by King Phillip.

Friday, May 13 at 7:00 pm. Saturday, May 14 at 1:00 pm.

State Winners

How to be Alone by Rachel Nalebuff

The Bus by James Lantz

Rhode Island:
Galatea by David Eliet

New Hampshire:
Trespasser in a Promised Land by Davis Russell

Eligibility for the Clauder Competition

  • Playwrights must currently live or attend school in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont. This residency requirement may be waived in cases where the material has significant relevance to New England AND where the playwright has previously lived in New England for a considerable period of time. For questions of eligibility, please email us.
  • Plays must be full-length, with a running time between one and three hours.
  • Plays must require no more than 8 actors to perform. Playwrights must provide a precise casting plot for larger casts that require doubling.
  • Plays must be original works, not an adaptation or translation.
  • Plays must not be primarily for younger audiences.
  • Plays must not have received a professional production, or publication, or a pledge/commitment for the same prior to the announcement of the Clauder Winner. This includes Actors Equity showcase and waiver productions. Plays that have had readings or non-AEA productions are still eligible.

The winning play must meet all eligibility requirements for a full production. In consideration of Portland Stage’s mounting of the world premiere production, the grand prize winning playwright must provide  a small percentage of their royalties from the work for five years following the premiere production.

Clauder Competition Submissions

One script per playwright.
Submissions must be sent by U.S. Mail only – no emails, faxes, etc.

Submissions must include the complete script with a cast breakdown and up-to-date playwright contact information to establish residency.

No scripts that are handwritten or scripts that are otherwise illegible will be considered. We also request that submissions not be bound in binding combs or other permanent bindings that will make them difficult to photocopy.

Submitted scripts will NOT be returned.

All submissions meeting the eligibility criteria will be reviewed by at least 2 readers, and will receive an individualized letter of response including readers’ comments following the announcement of the winner.

DEADLINE:  Clauder Competition for New England Playwrights is closed.
Please submit questions to:

Attn: Literary Manager
Portland Stage Company
P.O. box 1458
Portland, ME 04104

If you are an eligible playwright interested in joining the list for Clauder Competition notification, please send an e-mail with your name, state of residence, and home mailing address to our Literary Manager by clicking here.