Sitting between two friends on a champagne-soaked couch in a Hilton Garden Inn was not how I imagined my undergraduate graduation ceremony. Sure, we had a virtual sendoff for the class of 2020 and got to sport our bright purple robes and multicolored tassels, but it was anticlimactic to say the least after four years of caffeine-fueled academic toil.
However, once the incredulity of this transition wore off, stepping into “real world” to pursue musical theatre writing proved to be an even greater challenge.
Now is a more confusing time than ever to enter the world and workforce fresh out of college, especially in our industry. That’s why, with festival and academic application deadlines fast approaching as the year comes to a close, I am here to help! I have compiled a comprehensive list of where to look for educational and developmental opportunities (domestically) for composers, lyricists, librettists, and bookwriters that work in musical theatre.
I would also like to direct you to Maestra’s own resource page that covers a wider scope of professions in music and jumping off points for your own research.
I hope this list broadens your horizons and brings you constructive opportunities to grow your skills and confidence – whether you choose to take advantage of a Master’s program, fellowship, BIPOC community-centered resource, or a combination that suits you best. There is no “one-size-fits all” answer or “right” way to approach your writing journey. These opportunities may not be the right fit for you, but even identifying that is valuable!
1.) Master’s Degrees
- NYU Tisch
- M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing
- M.F.A. in Writing for Media and Theatre
- Temple University
2.) BIPOC-centered Opportunities
- Broadway Advocacy Coalition Fellowship
- “The fellowship will enable [arts activist participants] to blend artistry, law, policy, and community engagement, and produce narratives with powerful impact in policy spaces where change can happen.”
- Black Theatre Coalition Fellowship
- “Mentorship and guidance throughout the Fellowship Program from Black professionals currently working in the industry and from BTC Accomplices within companies/offices where fellows will be placed.”
- Broadway for Racial Justice
- Theatre of Change
- Forums, CoLab Groups, and Events
- Black Theatre United
- Virtual Meetings and Town Halls
- BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop
- New Musicals Inc.
- L.A. Writer’s Workshop
- ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Workshops
- National Music Theater Conference at The O’Neill
- New Dramatists: Composer Librettist Studio
- Theatre Now: Musical Writers Lab
- The community of writing teams meet bi-weekly.
- NYC live and national Zoom meeting options
- The School at Porchlight: MT Writing
- Multiple sessions on select Saturdays.
- $250 ($175 for current college students), scholarships available.
- Playwrights Center: Musical Theatre Bookwriting
- Online only, multi-session classes: beginning or intermediate levels offered.
- $200 for Members, $250 for Non-Members, payment plans available
- SheNYC Arts
- The O’Neill: The National Music Theatre Conference
- Actors Theatre of Louisville: Humana Festival
- NAMT: Festival of New Musicals
- Planet Connections Theatre Company: Festivity (or Zoom Fest)
- The Village Theatre: The Festival of New Musicals
- Underscore Theatre Company: The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival
- Vassar & New York Stage and Film – Powerhouse Theatre: Reading Festival
- University of the Arts: Polyphone Festival
- Denver Center for the Performing Arts: Colorado New Play Summit
- The Hollywood Fringe Festival
- The Williamstown Theater Festival
- CO New Musical Fest
- Broadway Bound Theater Festival
Congratulations to our 2020 #LarsonGrant Recipients! These grants continue Jonathan Larson’s dream of infusing musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, and urban vitality. #SayYEStoArtists https://t.co/aLfGpMpYfn pic.twitter.com/05LTAKC2ME— American Theatre Wing (@TheWing) February 19, 2020
5.) Awards & Grants (for open submission)
- New Dramatists: The Kleban Prize in Musical Theater
- Each year, the foundation’s board determines the amount for the prize that year.
- Last year, $100,000 was awarded to the winner of each category.
- Apply to the lyricist or librettist category
- Marvin Hamlisch International Music Awards: Musical Theatre Composition
- Undergraduates, graduates, and post-grads are to supply to the “Emerging Division”
- Five nominees in each division will move on, and one winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize, software, and more!
- NAMT: Frank Young Fund for New Musicals
- American Theatre Wing: Jonathan Larson Grant
- American Academy of Arts and Letters: Richard Rodgers Award
- Three musicals won in 2021.
- The Dramatist Guild: The Stephen Schwartz Award
- One recipient each year is awarded $10,000
- Other awards may be applicable.
- The Ziegfeld Club, Inc.: Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award
- One female composer/lyricist is awarded a $10,00 prize.
- New York Stage and Film
- Multiple awards and fellowships available.
- Fred Ebb Foundation: Fred Ebb Award
- 2+ winners receive $60,000 each.
- Parity Productions: The Annual Parity Commision
- 2+ commissions, one to a (cis or trans) woman and one to gender non-conforming playwritgth, are awarded to each year.
6.) Advocacy Groups for Historically-Marginalized Voices
- Muse (Musicians United for Social Equity)
- Internships, mentorship, directory, networking, and resources for MT artists of color.
- Ring of Keys
- Directory, networking, and resources for MT artists who self-identify as queer women, transgender, and gender non-conforming artists.
- ASTEP (Artists Striving To End Poverty)
- An international community with teaching artist programs and volunteer opportunities.
- (Our very own) Maestra
- Internships, mentorship, directory, networking, and resources for women and nonbinary musicians for MT.
- Women Who Write Musicals
- A Facebook group and LinkedIn “tribe” for musical theatre writers who are assigned female at birth, gender non-conforming, or non-binary to commune.
- The Kilroys
- A LA- and NYC-based theatre collective of writers, directors, and producers passionate about leveraging their power to counter systemic underrepresentation of trans, non-binary, and women playwrights.
- The League of Professional Theatre Women
- A membership organization to cultivate community, leadership, and recognition for women in professional theatre.
- Howlround Theatre Commons
- A free platform based out of Emerson College that uses technology to disrupt traditional ideas of theatremaking by amplifying Indigenous, Deaf, LatinX, and climate emergency theatre, and other topics in the theatre space.
- Dramatists Guild Fellowship Program
- New Dramatists: 7-Year Residency
- Ars Nova: Play Group
- Rhinebeck Writers Retreat:
- Clubbed Thumb:
- Page 73:
- Public Theatre: Emerging Writers Group
- Women’s Project: WP Theatre Lab
- Yaddo: Artists Retreat in Saratoga Springs, NY
- Macdowell: Fellowship
I feel very blessed to have found the right program for me in BerkleeNYC, and we here at Maestra sincerely hope you find the best fit here for your next step. Go forward with creative inspiration and consistent, persistent iteration!
The next edition of this article will be serving overseas Maestras. If you know of any theatre writing resources based outside of the United States, please fill out this form to help us with our research.