New Work


We establish an environment that supports our region’s playwrights, builds bridges between our theater and national writers, and brings awareness of our art form and the work being created in the New England area with exciting initiatives: The Clauder Competition and the Little Festival of the Unexpected. Additionally, every year we have our From Away festival in collaboration with the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa, where we bring international writers to Portland to share their work with our community.


Portland Stage Announces The 2020 Clauder Competition For New England Playwrights Winners– Broadway World


Clauder Grand Prize: a $3,000 cash award, and a workshop production followed by a full production the following season.

Two Gold Prizes: $1,500 cash awards each.

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

For over three decades, the Clauder Competition has been New England’s most prestigious playwriting award. Created in 1981 by Jeb Brooks, who continues to underwrite the program, the Clauder Competition celebrates the distinctive voices of our region’s playwrights and brings their work to the attention of the greater theatrical community. The Clauder Competition generates over 200 submissions each cycle. Each play receives at least two evaluations and all writers are sent a letter including an individualized response from readers. Plays by the three Clauder winners are included in the Little Festival of the Unexpected (see below). The Grand Prize winner will go on to receive a production and cash prize.

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 the material they send to theaters and producers. Past winners and 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 Alegría Hudes and Paula Vogel.

2012 Clauder Winner, Veils by Tom Coash was nominated for American Theatre Critics Association’s New Play Award.

The most recent cycle featured Read to Me by Brendan Pelsue (MA) which took the Grand Prize and will be produced in the fall of 2019 on our mainstage. The two Gold Prize Winners were Queen of Sad Mischance by John Minigan (MA) and The Bone Girls by Laura Edmondson (NH).

The Clauder Competition also awards State Winners and in the most recent cycle awarded Soldier Poet by Darcy Parker Bruce (CT), Recur by Parker Lemal-Brown (ME), Heresy by Lawrence Goodman (RI), Strawberry Moon by Shoshannah Boray (VT).

Click here for more info on script submissions.


Since its debut in 1990, the Little Festival of the Unexpected (LFU) has established a tradition of nurturing artists, invigorating audiences, and exploring new voices, visions, and forms of theater. The festival furnishes a supportive environment for playwrights to develop their work, as well as a unique opportunity for audiences to catch a firsthand look at the creative process that brings scripts to the stage. LFU readings are performed by a company of professional actors and are followed by an open discussion with the audience, director, and playwright.

Each playwright in residence receives a stipend as well as housing during the festival. Limited support for travel is also available.

Past LFU scripts have successfully moved on to full productions at Portland Stage and at other professional theaters around the country. Both Almost, Maine (LFU 2003) and Papermaker (LFU 2014) went on to become the most commercially successful Mainstage productions in Portland Stage’s history. Many other LFU works have gone on to productions across the country, including successful Off-Broadway, Film, and TV.

Click here for more info on script submissions.

For past LFU plays, see Portland Stage’s production history page.

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