So you want to enter a Theatre Festival – but which one?

One of my go-to recommendations for my writer consultation clients with new works is to hit the festival circuit.

While there are definitely some cons to being one show in a sea of so many others (can’t choose your venue, physical production limited to the set-up/strike time, etc.), the long list of pros usually makes it worth at least submitting the application to see if you get in (and if you don’t, you’ve learned something already – maybe it’s time to do a redraft).

My clients inevitably ask, “Which festivals should I enter and how do I find out the info?”  I always rattle off a few, and they jot ’em down, and inevitably I end up wondering, “Why isn’t there a list of the most important festivals online somewhere?”

And the way my mind works, if I can’t find something that I think should exist, well, then, I just make it myself.

So that’s what I did!

This blog contains a list of a bunch of theater festivals around the world.  It’s not every one, mind you, and we definitely focused on the festivals in the NY area (putting a show in a festival here has much more of a chance to be discovered than at a festival in East Wichita).

I usually don’t like to do “list” blogs.  I like to have a point of view; a take on something that will hopefully inspire you to take action one way or another that will help you get your career to the next level.   So I tend to avoid lists of links and general info like this one.

But then I got to thinking . . . this list could provide you with much more of a springboard than my point of view.  Festivals give your shows a chance to be seen.  And that’s what shows were designed for.  To be seen.  Not to be read, or just listened to.  They need to be seen.  Or they are dead.

So I’m letting you off easy today.  No KD slant on this post.  Just simple information that happens to be invaluable if you use it.

(Oh, and if you know of a great theater festival, throw the info in the comments section of this blog and we’ll add it to this list!)

 

Theater Festivals From Around The World

The Big Ones:

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland

Festival of New Musicals, New York, NY

London International Festival of Theatre, London, England

New York Musical Theatre Festival, New York, NY

New York International Fringe Festival, New York, NY

Thespis Theater Festival, New York, NY

Venus/Adonis Theater Festival, New York, NY

Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA

Other Awesome Ones:

Bard SummerScape, Annandate-on-Hudson, NY

Barrington Stage’s Musical Theatre Lab, Pittsfield, MA

Berkshire Theatre FestivalStockbridge, MA

BSU Discovery New Musical Theatre Festival, Muncie, IN

Children’s Musical Theatre Festival, New York, NY

Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Shepherdstown, WV

Dorset Theatre Festival, Dorset, VT

Downtown Urban Theater Festival, New York, NY

Dream Up Festival, New York, NY

Dublin Theatre Festival, Dublin, Ireland

Estrogenius, New York, NY

Festival of New American MusicalsLos Angeles, CA

Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, Auburn, NY

Fresh Fruit Festival, New York, NY

Frigid Festival, New York, NY

Junior Theater Festival, New York, NY

KO Festival of Performance, Amherst, MA

Midtown International Theatre Festival, New York, NY

Minnesota Fringe Festival, Minneapolis, MN

National Black Theatre Festival, Winston-Salem, NC

The New York Children’s Theater Festival, New York, NY

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR

Pacific Playwrights Festival, Costa Mesa, CA

Planet Connections Festivity, New York, NY

Revolutions International Theatre Festival, Albuquerque, NM

Rogue Festival, Fresno, CA

The Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, New York, NY

Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston, SC

Strawberry One-Act Festival, New York, NY

Thespian Festival, Lincoln, NE

United Solo Theatre Festival, New York, NY

Village Theatre: Festival of New Musicals, Issaquah, WA

The West Village Musical Theatre Festival,  New York, NY

World Stages International Theater Festival, Washington, DC

 

 

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Comments
  • Brian says:

    All in one spot, a list of Fringe Festivals and contact information for across the U.S. and Canada

  • Brian says:

    All in one spot, a list of Fringe Festivals and contact information for across the U.S. and Canada http://www.fringefestivals.com/

  • Scott says:

    Ken–I Have heard of a Festival that Takes place in South Korea during the summer. Have heard there are companies from around the Globe at that One!

  • Kristen Tumminello says:

    It is so interesting that this is the post that you wrote today as I just received word that I am a finalist in the New York New Works Theatre Festival in NYC (not on your list) for this year. I would love to get your feedback on that particular festival since it will take a lot of resources to bring our show to NY from out of state. Any comments would be great!

  • Gotta show some love to one of the biggest and fastest-growing performing arts festivals in North America – The Hollywood Fringe Festival! hollywoodfringe.org.

  • Thank you, Ken, for looking out for us.

  • George Rady says:

    Can I hop on the otherside of the fence… at least as far as creating a “marketable” product (sure “Art for Artsake” by all means enter the most themetically appropriate festival!) but I cut my eye-teeth on marketing Finanacial Products and I learned a lot before I got back into the Theatre-thing.

    When I picked up the pen, we, keyboad and (finally) got back to the play I was working on in my teens (after a 30 year lay-off) it was suggested by a friend that I joing the “All Out Arts Fruit Festival” as my play had an LGBT theme… Hey! Free Theatre, contact with diectors, actors, backstage crew… why not.

    I lasted ’til the Staged Readings for that year’s crop and I made an immediate decsion that I my play would 1.) be lost in the mix and 2.) I would not be able to invited my core audience of a couple hundred people I have worked with over the years… as the nudity and fould language would have offended most who came (i.e. they are not “theatre people” and, for many, this was the first (and last) Off-Off-Broadway play they would see…

    So I pulled out and got my own theatre space and let the work stand-alone and speak for itself and got the feed back I needed to make my critical next steps forward. I simply would not have got that in a Festival because there is too much “noise” and I am convinced (based on my experience selling financial products) that you must create your own “Universe” and convince your audience (and potential INvestors) that You are in complete control of that Universe and that it can be profitable and that they are investing in something that is… in a word.. Unique!

    And that is what you can not find in a Festival because the impetuous is that you only “take part” in one… not BE the Festival.

    g

  • Angela Astle says:

    A festival whose mission is to showcase female artists and who produces a World Premiere each year by a female playwright: Athena Project Festival (www.athenaprojectfestival.org). P.S. 2015 call for submissions is ongoing until July 31. Thanks so much for compiling this list Ken.

  • Randi says:

    People really think such am exchange policy would lead to box office chaos but seriously how many people are going to go through all the trouble of changing plans (and travel &c) if a lesser known actor is out? I think it really would work out just to benefit die hard fans, which is who Ken sets out to reward. You’re not going to get 30 patrons lining up at the box office at 7:50 if they see a sign announcing a chorus member’s absence just because they think “oh here’s my excuse, I didn’t want to stay any longer tonight anyway.” That won’t happen. I think this would be a great idea. And of course it wouldn’t apply to third party ticket sellers! This would also encourage people to buy directly from the box office or show website.

  • WR Maxwell says:

    A long list of festivals for the theater goer, but not for the playwright. I found I am excluded from ALL BUT A FEW of the 34 listed festival, since I am a male, not a student, not lbgt, do not have an agent, do not have a production company at my beck and call, and not a resident of Massachusetts.

  • Toni Henson says:

    Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is an annual festival of 40 plays in 4 days under one roof during Indigenous (Columbus) Day weekend. Promotes diversity and all genres of theatre.

  • The Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis – a biennial festival that celebrates works written by women, directed by women or storylines about the woman’s experience or point of view. it began in 2012

  • Thespis Theater Festival is an excellent one that’s not on this list. It offers large stages, long tech times (4.5/5 hours) and a lot of hands on care from the founders. It fills up pretty quickly, so it’s good to submit early.

  • rick sayers says:

    How do you rate the Thespis Festival?

  • The iO West Scripted Festival is happening from March 9-12th of 2016! Go to this website to find out more details. Sketch, video shorts, storytelling, stand up and more. 😀 http://ioimprov.com/west/festivals/scripted-comedy-festival/

  • Bob Canning says:

    Hi Ken —

    Found this by accident surfing for International Fringe Festivals seeking short plays.
    This is 2 years old. Will you do an update this year? Some of these links are sausage now.

    Thanks,

    Bob

  • Kathe Mull says:

    In June, I took The Penis Papers by Joshua James to PortFringe in Portland Maine. Good fringe festival in an awesome city.

  • Valeri Ross says:

    Los Angeles Womens’ Theatre Festival has produced over 500 artists in its 23+years of operation. Contact Director Adilah Barnes for more information.

  • Kacie M Devaney says:

    I am a playwright and have lived in New York City for over four years. This list is not 100 percent accurate. The Thespis Theatre Festival is by NO means a (Big festival). It’s probably one of the worst in NYC as far as I am concerned. Always in tiny crap theatres, overly priced to participate, and you don’t get any money back from tickets sales. It was the first one I did in NYC when I moved here. Good experience as at least I got my work up, but they pretty much seem to take any play, so long as you pay. NYC Fringe is obviously great, I did that one– also VERY expensive, but you get money back in the end and you get a lot of great street credit for getting your play in. It’s very competitive. The Down Town Urban Arts Theatre Festival, DUTF, that is not listed as a big one should be. It’s fantastic, FREE to apply, and they actually pay you a stipend at the end of your production. Alway in beautiful theatres, wonderful staff, very professional, and they do awesome marketing for you. The Mid-Town International Theatre Festival is also very good, however, they are on a pause for a while. I did that one this year and my play was up for, (Best Production). Great exposure and good marketing.

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