Eligibility & Details

The 2016 winners have been chosen. For future contests, please read. Below you will find an overview of eligibility requirements, judging process, prize presentation and a timetable of events. When you are ready to submit your play, go to the Submission Instructions page.

Download this PDF: Eligibility Details

Eligibility Requirements


  • The contest is open to FEMALE RESIDENTS of CALIFORNIA only.
  • Ebell of Los Angeles members may submit to the competition.
  • Ebell of Los Angeles members may not serve as readers or judges.
  • Ebell Board Members may not submit to the competition, nor may they serve as readers or judges.
  • Employees of the Ebell may not submit to the competition, nor may they serve as readers or judges.
  • Members of the Ebell Playwright Prize Advisory Board may not submit to the competition.


  1. Play must be full-length and in English.
  2. Play cannot exceed 95 pages. Chosen play must be cut to 85 pages for the author to accept the Prize and the Ebell to stage a reading at the gala. See About Page Limits below.
  3. Play must follow standard playwriting format and use a 12 pt. Courier-family font.
  4. Play must not have been previously published in print, online or in any public forum.
  5. Play must not have received or be scheduled for a professional* production before March 6, 2017.
    STOP! If tickets were sold to the public, actors performed without a script, and/or play was reviewed, it is not eligible.  (Please read our definition of a professional production below before submitting. Submission fees are non-refundable)
  6. Play must not have received an option for development with any theater company or organization prior to March 5, 2017.
  7. Play may be submitted concurrently to other competitions unless:
    • If money from the other competition secures the rights to the play, then it is not eligible.
    • If any other contest requires the winner to sign an option or any professional agreement, the play is not eligible for the Ebell prize.
    • If the play wins another competition and is presented to the public prior to March 5, 2017, the play is not eligible for the Ebell competition.
    • Playwright may continue to market and promote her play without regard to their status in the Ebell contest, unless one of the above occurs.
  8. Collaboration: Play must be the original work of one playwright or two equal collaborators. A collaboration is NOT:
    • If X creates the story and Y writes the play, the work is not eligible.
    • If X creates the story and X & Y write the stage play, the work is not eligible.
    • If X writes a novel and Y (or X & Y) write a play based on the novel, the work is not eligible.
    • One collaborator may complete the application. Once the play is submitted, Partner must verify collaboration. Verification may be submitted after the entry deadline, but the entry will not be processed until verification is complete.
  9. Musicals, screenplays, children’s plays, translations are not eligible.
  10. Adaptations of any published or performed work, as defined above are not eligible. The intent of the Contest is to identify new playwrights and new works.
  11. Please read the rules carefully.  Your fee is non-refundable.


Judges Panel and Advisory Board

The Ebell Playwright Prize’s judges are women actors and directors who have distinguished themselves in their theatrical community. To avoid a conflict of interest, no playwright may sit as a judge.  The Advisory Board is comprised of women industry professionals representing a wide spectrum of interests and perspectives in the theatrical community. Advisory Board members have no voting power and do not take part in selecting the winning play; their primary purpose is to provide a breadth of industry insight to help us further the Prize’s core mission of encouraging and celebrating California women playwrights.


  • Each correctly submitted play is assigned a number, and its title page placed in a safe. Our readers and judges never see the title or author of the play. This guarantees anonymity and objectivity in evaluation.
  • All plays are read at least twice in the first round.
  • Our first-round readers are men and women working in theater, theater education, development and/or production. They may receive a modest fee to cover their costs and expenses.
  • Between five and ten finalists will be selected based on readers’ scores and evaluations.
  • An all-women panel judges the finalist plays.
  • After reading the finalist plays, judges convene, discuss, vote and select the winner.
  • To ensure there is no conflict of interest, Ebell club members, employees, and Ebell Board of Directors cannot serve as readers or judges.

The Reading

The prize-winning play and playwright will be honored with a staged reading and supper at The Ebell of Los Angeles on Sunday, March 5, 2017. The Chair of the Ebell Playwriting Contest will choose a director; casting will be at the sole discretion of the director. The presentation will follow the format of a staged reading: actors seated with scripts in hand. Supper follows the reading, to which the prize winner receives four complimentary tickets. (Reading is free).


  1. January 4, 2016: Submission Opens. Entrants may apply online at this site.
  2. June 30, 2016, 12 noon PST: Submission Closes: no applications accepted after this date.
  3. July 20 — October 2016: Reading and judging in progress.
  4. November 1, 2016: Winning play announced.
  5. Sunday, March 5, 2017: Winning play and playwright are honored with a staged reading and supper at The Ebell Club of Los Angeles.

About Page-length Limit

A fully-staged, full-length play produced in a legit theater averages 90 minutes, excluding intermissions. This averages 95 script pages in standardized formatting. The Ebell has been producing staged readings for several years; the ideal play page length for our readings does not exceed 85 pages. For the Prize, we can consider plays up to 95 pages maximum. However, if your play is chosen for the Prize, you will have to cut to 85 pages in order to receive the prize and for us to stage the reading for the gala.

It is also valuable to note current theater trends. The proliferation of TV, cable and internet content have shortened  even that of the  theater going audience attention spans. Production costs have skyrocketed. Theater producers are looking for shorter plays with simpler tech and lesser production costs. While we want the playwright to write the play that is in her heart, we encourage her to develop the skills and savvy to work within the constraints and concerns of current theater.

What The Prize’s Deems a “Professional” Production

One might not consider an Equity-waiver or off-Broadway production as ‘professional’ — the Guild may have little or no involvement, and the cast and crew do not make living wages. However, the Prize’s goal is to find undiscovered talent: we want the privilege to be the first to showcase the work and the playwright. So, for purposes of the Prize, we define “professional” if any of the following are true:

  • tickets were sold to the public
  • actors (Equity and/or non-Equity) performed without script in hand
  • the play was reviewed

If the above is true of your play, it is not eligible. If the above becomes true between the time of your submission and the selection of winners, it then becomes ineligible. (Please inform us immediately!)

Conversely, if your play had exposure during development (staged reading, workshop performance, backer’s audition), it may be eligible. Contact us to clarify its eligibility. If your play falls into a gray area and you’re not sure, please contact us to clarify.

The Fine Print

  • The Ebell of Los Angeles reserves the rights to the first presentation of the winning play, but that play shall remain the sole property of its author.
  • The Contest reserves the right to reject any manuscript for any reason.
  • In the event that no submitted material is deemed worthy, The Ebell of Los Angeles reserves the right to not award a prize for that year.
  • The Ebell of Los Angeles reserves the right to present the first staged reading of the winning play, but that play shall remain the sole property of its author.
  • The Ebell of Los Angeles is a 501(c)(3) California non-profit organization. Monetary donations to the Playwright Prize are fully tax deductible.

Ready to submit? Have more questions? Visit our Submission Details page.

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