Clauder Competition

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

For over four 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 at Portland Stage, followed by a full scale production on our Mainstage or in our Studio Theater the following season.

Gold Prizes: $1,500 cash awards each, plus a workshop at Portland Stage.

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

The 2020 Clauder Grand Prize winner

Last Ship to Proxima Centauri by Greg Lam

The 2020 Gold Prize winners

In His Hands by Benjamin Benne

Rx Machina by Caity-Shea Violette

State Winners

In His Hands by Benjamin Benne

Death Wings by Bess Welden

Last Ship to Proxima Centauri by Greg Lam

New Hampshire:
Awful People Pray by Leila Teitelman

Rhode Island:
Radical by Deborah Salem Smith and Charlie Thurston

Fixed Point by Mary Beth McNulty

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 will sign an agreement pertaining to future royalties and other stipulations, for more information please contact us.

Clauder Competition Submissions

One script per playwright.
Submissions must be sent by US 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.

Playwright should submit a blind copy with their name and contact info removed from the title page, please include that information on your cover letter and artistic statement.

Playwrights must include an artistic statement describing where they are in their process (is the play still undergoing major changes, are there questions you have about certain sequences, are you only looking at minor textual changes or cuts going forwards, etc.). This is useful for us to take into consideration when evaluating plays. 

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:  The 2022 Clauder Competition will open for submissions on June 1st, 2021 and will close March 31st, 2022.

Please submit plays 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.