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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Black List, Founded in Hollywood, Expands Into Theater

The Black List, an effort to boost the careers of undiscovered writers by drawing attention to high-quality unproduced scripts, was formed 17 years ago with a focus on Hollywood. Now the organization is looking to extend its work into theater.

The project’s leadership announced Tuesday that it would begin inviting playwrights and musical writers to share their work with gatekeepers in the theater, film and television industries, with the goal of helping them find representation, get feedback and land productions in the theater world or jobs in the film and television world.

Four well-regarded nonprofit theaters, Miami New Drama in Florida, the Movement Theater Company in New York, Victory Gardens in Chicago and Woolly Mammoth in Washington, have each agreed to commission a new play or musical from a writer whose work surfaces through the project . The commissions are $10,000 each.

“Our fundamental belief is that there’s a lot of amazing playwrights whose opportunities don’t befit their talents,” said Franklin Leonard, who founded the Black List. “If we can rectify that, that’s something we should do.”

The Black List started as an annual survey of scripts that Hollywood executives liked but hadn’t turned into films, and the organization says that 440 of those scripts have since been produced. Then the Black List added a for-profit arm that allows writers to post scripts online to bring them to the attention of industry professionals, and which also allows writers, for a fee, to seek script evaluations from readers who work in the industry.( Evaluations cost $100, of which $60 goes to the reader.)

Leonard said he and Megan Halpern, the Black List executive spearheading the theater expansion, have been talking with theater industry leaders for months about the idea of ​​broadening the Black List’s scope, with the goal of helping undiscovered playwrights and musical theater writers find work in theater and, possibly, also in film or TV.

“What we’ve heard is that people want to find new playwrights, but the reality of wading through the slush pile is insurmountable,” he said.

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