Playwriting Competition

Submission Procedures

We appreciate you offering PlayFest Santa Barbara the opportunity to consider your work. Our New Works Coordinator screens submissions for eligibility as they are received.

PlayFest Santa Barbara accepts submissions for full-length plays, musicals, translations and adaptations, and works for young audiences (approximately fourth grade level and above). Any works submitted must not have had a prior professional production. The author is solely responsible for having the legal rights or the material must be in the public domain in order to submit.

Playwrights, librettists and composers with professional representation may have their agents send manuscripts at any time. Please note that lawyers and law firms do not qualify as “professional representation” for this purpose.

Playwrights, composers and librettists without representation are welcome.

Deadline: Any plays submitted now through October 1, 2020 will be considered for the January 2021 festival. 

Please follow these guidelines in preparing your manuscript:

1. The manuscript must begin with a title page that shows the title, your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and page count.

2. The second title page must list the title of the play only, a list of characters, and a list of acts and scenes.

  • Characters are listed in approximate order of importance with a short description of each next to his or her name.
  • Setting & Time. 
  • Scene Breakdown Page (Optional.) A scene breakdown page may be useful if you change locations and time periods.

3. Include a submission fee of $25.00 via the PlayFest Paypal account (Click the PayPal button on the right sidebar on this page), or by cashier’s check or money order made out to PlayFest Santa Barbara. No personal checks will be accepted. (Fee covers processing costs. e.g. multiple mailings, bindings and copies.)

Checks may be mailed along with your script to: 

PlayFest Santa Barbara
P.O. Box 1097 Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1097

If you have already mailed your script to our old address that was previously listed, it has been forwarded to our new address.

3. The play or musical must be at least one hour in length.

4. Dramas, comedies and musicals are all welcome. Musical submissions must include the libretto and a CD of all music.

5. Our preference for cast size for plays and musicals are 2 to 12 actors, with no limit on the number of characters.

6. All manuscripts that are not selected for the festival will be recycled. Please do not include any type of return postage.

7. Submissions are restricted to plays in the English language.

8. Submissions must be original full-length plays, musicals, adaptations or translations that have not had a fully staged professional production.

9. Do not bind or staple the manuscript.

10. Playwrights, composers and librettists may submit only one manuscript per festival year.

11.  Do not send the only copy of your work. Manuscripts cannot be returned after the competition. 

12. Submissions must be typed, word-processed, numbered and in a standard professional play format. 


Use 12-point font throughout the manuscript. 

Avoid italics (except for occasional word emphasis).

Use an ordinary serif face type such as Times New Roman or Palatino.

Dialogue pages are formatted with a top margin of 0.75” – 1.0”, and a bottom margin of 1.0” – 1.5”. The left and right margins are set at around 1.0”.

  • The first letter of each character name is centered, with the name then continuing out toward the right margin. Use tab settings for the alignment of character names rather than the center alignment function.
  • Dialogue is single-spaced.
  • Opening stage directions are centered on the page.
  • Character stage directions and general stage directions occur within acts or scenes.

They stand alone in the manuscript with parentheses and are single-spaced.

Guidelines for pagination:

  • Numbering begins with the first page of dialogue.
  • Numbers are always in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
  • Each act is numbered consecutively through the end of an act: I-1 I-2 I-3
  • The numbering for Act II begins again from scratch: II-1 II-2 II-3
  • Plays structured in short formal scenes without Act designations are numbered consecutively with numerals only. If Act designations are also used—most playwrights do it this way—then follow the numbering system for plays in Acts.
  • Preliminary pages, if numbered at all, are done with lowercase Roman numerals.

Please do not bind or staple manuscripts! Please send in loose pages held together with a paperclip or by rubber bands.

Please be advised that the following written material will not be considered:

1. Screenplays or teleplays submitted as theatrical plays.

2. Obvious first drafts.

3. Plays with typos and spelling errors.

4. Plays that are not formatted according to standard professional play format.   

5. Musicals without a CD of all music.

6. Plays or musicals that have had professional productions are not eligible.

We appreciate you offering PlayFest Santa Barbara the opportunity to consider your work. Our New Works Coordinator screens submissions for eligibility as they are received. Early submissions are encouraged and appreciated. Plays considered for the 2020 festival must be postmarked by October 1, 2019.

Send manuscripts to:

Literary Department
PlayFest Santa Barbara
P.O. Box 1097 
Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1097
Deadline: Any plays submitted today through October 1, 2020 will be considered for the January 2021 festival.  


During the judging process, the author’s identity will remain anonymous to prevent any bias. Initially, two separate judges will read each manuscript. The committee of judges will be comprised of a select group of professional playwrights and theatre artists. Finalists will be determined by PlayFest Santa Barbara and contacted via email.

Scripts postmarked after October 1, 2020 will be considered for the January 2021 festival. 

For questions, email