Clay & Water 2021

Information for Dramaturg Applicants


Clay & Water 2021 is Clamour Theatre Company’s third annual Playwrights’ Retreat & New Play Reading Series. The two previous retreats were held live and in-person in Green Cove Springs, Florida. Like so many events, Clay & Water 2021 will be conducted virtually.

Since we will be unable to provide the selected playwrights with a week away from their ordinary lives to focus on their writing this year, we have decided to provide each writer the opportunity to work with a dramaturg. The 2021 Retreat will be longer (Feb 5 – Feb 21), but interactions will mostly take place in the evenings and on weekends. All via Zoom.

Selected dramaturgs will receive $200 each for their participation.

Dramaturg’s Scope of Work and Duties

The DRAMATURG will support the PLAY with the usual and customary dramaturgical services that DRAMATURG, director, playwright, and THEATRE deem necessary. Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Dramaturgical Zoom meeting between DRAMATURG and playwright at a mutually convenient time on Saturday, February 6, 2021 or Sunday, February 7, 2021.
  • Attendance at a private (actors, playwright, dramaturg, and Clamour staff) Zoom reading of the PLAY, followed by another dramaturgical Zoom meeting between DRAMATURG and playwright. Both private Zoom reading and dramaturgical Zoom meeting to be scheduled at a mutually convenient time between Tuesday, February 9, 2021 and Sunday, February 14, 2021.
  • Attendance at a public Zoom reading of the PLAY to be scheduled between Thursday evening, February 18 and Sunday, February 21, followed by a Zoom meeting, email or phone call summarizing any last dramaturgical thoughts, scheduled at a later date at the DRAMATURG’S discretion .
  • DRAMATURG is welcome but not required to attend these additional Zoom events:
    — Friday, February 5, evening – Welcome Dinner (participants to provide their own food)
    — Friday, February 12, evening – Group Cocktail hour
    — Wednesday, February 17, evening – Group Cocktail hour

Additional Information

More information about the overall schedule is available on the page outlining the guidelines for playwright applicants and can be found here:

Playwrights’ bios and synopses that are more geared to marketing than the synopses below can be found at

Plays and Playwrights needing Dramaturgs

Plays are listed below in alphabetical order by title. Synopses, writer’s development goals, and dramaturg preference are available under each play (simply click the red plus sign next to each heading to expand that section).

by Nick Malakhow

The play centers around Ben and Jasmine, the two remaining Black teachers at a private Quaker school in the Philly suburbs, and the way their friendship fractures in the wake of a racially charged discipline incident.

I have three major writing goals for Affinity Lunch Minutes: tracking and strengthening Jasmine’s arc, zeroing in on Ben’s turning points, and examining my theatricalization of Quaker Meeting for Worship.

I need to strengthen and complicate Jasmine’s character arc. I want to flesh out her journey beyond her anger to examine her motivations for teaching at this school for so long, the job’s impact on her mental health and identity, and the internal struggle she feels as a popular but unhappy teacher in this hyper-privileged setting. I believe I can bolster her arc in scenes 3, 6.5, and 8 especially. I would also love to look at first Ben and Jasmine’s tense conversation in scene 5 and then Ben’s outburst towards Cal in scene 7 to solidify Ben’s turning points as a character and how they can be made clearer and more visible onstage. Finally, I would love to explore the theatricality of Meeting for Worship. I’m curious to see how actors use the silence during rehearsal–and to possibly codify clearer shifts and beats and write them into the script. I also want to see how the silent worship lands with audiences unfamiliar with the practice

  1. I’d would love to have the opportunity to work with a dramaturg who is Black, multiracial, or Latine/x if possible since the play is based in my experiences and observations as someone who is Afro-Latinx and multi-racial working in a predominantly white institution, and it would be great to work on it with someone who has had to navigate similar spaces.
  2. I’d also love the opportunity to work on it some day with a Quaker dramaturg (of any race). I realize that’s a particular niche that there aren’t a lot of networks for, but I thought I’d put it out there!

by Deborah Yarchun

Atlas, The Lonely Gibbon is a dark comedic thriller set in the future. Irene, a former journalist, struggles to find autonomy in a now mindless job editing AI-generated articles, an increasingly challenging marriage, and in an apartment potentially being targeted by hackers.

Atlas, The Lonely Gibbon explores our complicated relationship to technology – but also stealthily is about an abusive relationship. My next revision steps are to examine David’s motivations closely (ideally with the support of a dramaturg) to make sure that his alleged economic reasons for his actions are clearly masking a deeper need for control. I joke that this play could be retitled, “A Doll’s Smart House.” The door slamming in the final scene should have the same type of impact as Nora leaving Torvald. I want to explore iterations of the final moment between Irene and David where Irene voices her recognition that she’s in a controlling, abusive relationship. I know there’s more to be mined in that moment. I also want to examine Irene’s progressive understanding throughout the play as she slowly grasps the reality of her relationship, particularly in scene five. In my last revision, I made it clear that the apartment was being hacked rather than being taken over by AI (an intentional red herring) by adding in the voice of a hacker explicitly intruding. I want to explore variations of this scene to find a version that lands the best punch. I also want to look at key points in the script where I’ve bread-crumbed this ending to make sure I don’t outright give it away. Working with a dramaturg and hearing other’s responses to this play will be useful in tracking this.

My general preference is to work with a female dramaturg but I’m game for anybody who is the best fit for my project.

by Barbara Lindsay

Middle-aged couple Ruby and Earl are happy in their new marriage, but the rest of life is bleak and looking bleaker. Earl has lost his job, Ruby hates hers as night shift janitor at a hospital, and they have moved into a cheap, drab apartment. When Ruby suggests they ought to kill her parents for the inheritance, Earl plays along, believing she is joking. The joke becomes more sinister when Janelle, their cheerful, attractive neighbor, shows up to welcome them to the building. Fearing Earl is attracted to Janelle, Ruby suggests they should practice murder on her. Earl is now in a bind; since he seemed to go along with the idea of killing Ruby’s parents, his refusal to kill Janelle only inflames Ruby’s jealousy. Driven by an animal sense of desperation, Ruby brings the situation to a violent conclusion.

A playwrighting group here in Seattle gave this play a one night, script-in-hand public reading last year, and I have continued working on it myself. It is ready now for the final polishing and refining that can only happen with the talents and insights of a director/dramaturg and cast of actors, with hearing the words spoken aloud. I have been fortunate to take part in several other development programs and so understand how valuable fresh eyes and ideas can be to the creative process. In my decades of playwriting, I have learned to be able to listen to all suggestions, criticism, reviews, and input with an open ear, and to trust myself to hear what will help the play fulfill its promise. I love this play and believe in it, even though it deals with some rather dark, underbelly issues. I love the characters and want them to be as fully realized as they deserve to be. I need to hear the trajectory of the story, whether it gains momentum and tension. I want to be sure to take every opportunity for leavening to balance the more dramatic moments. Most of all, I need outside voices to answer the most important questions a writer asks: Does this story interest you? Are the characters people you want to spend enough time with to find out what happens to them?

I mainly just want someone who knows what she or he is talking about, is good at mentoring, and of course it helps if there is a click between us, but no way to know that ahead of time.  I’m pretty flexible and agreeable.

by Bethany Dickens Assaf

Greer has taken her girlfriend Heather, on a ‘relaxing’ trip to a midwestern lakeside cabin, with the intent of helping Heather relax and get off alcohol before they begin fertilization treatments, but the tensions build when it becomes obvious to Greer that sobering up Heather –a fully in-denial alcoholic–won’t be an easy task. Making things awkward is the sudden arrival of Dillon, Greer’s cousin, and a bisexual conservative Christian, who has some addictions of his own. Soon, Heather and Dillon’s personal demons–and the way they play off one another–are threatening to undermine their relationships and plans for the future.

While I am passionate about these characters this piece is still in the early stages of development and I am looking for opportunities to improve the structure (particularly the ending) and solidify the relational dynamics, specifically between Dillon and Greer. I also was pleased that a plethora of themes emerged, including: familial heritage, children and family structures, free will, the male-ness that can sometimes accompany belief in ‘supernatural’ addictions, and more; however, I recognize that these ideas could use polishing and probably become more visible to the audience.

No preferences. Open to any good dramaturg.

by Jaisey Bates

Two half-sibling twin strangers cross paths four days after their mother’s death, on the evening before their 19th birthday. The spirit of a recently deceased sheep — the last of the family’s flock — seeks to keep them safe from the night’s supernatural storms. Set in imaginary adjacent and/or entangled dimensions to the contemporary Navajo Nation this play seeks to weave a resilient healing ceremony as it negotiates the weight of white over centuries and its heavy legacies and constellating contemporary consequences for four Indigenous individuals. A play that asks: Who will be the ‘we’ we write?

My development goals list for this new play is quite long as it is nontraditional and eclectic in formatting, and complex language’d, is set in a specific Indigenous community*, has central characters who are genderfluid**, attempts to community-build engage multiple audiences/readers (Navajo, non Navajo Indigenous, non Indigenous BIPOC, and non BIPOC) primarily through a central character’s simultaneous translations and transparency with cultural code-switching, and was written for a Zoom reading format due to COVID-19.

I’ve “narrowed” — it’s a bit of a cheat as these goals include multiple specific sub-goals some of which are listed below — the wish list I have at present to the top two ‘development focus’ goals I would first seek to address should the play achieve an IRL or virtual workshop.

Voiced narration

In this first draft I have the characters speak their significant narration. This choice due to the Zoom format restrictions it opened up some interesting opportunities to express degrees of self-awareness/assessment, shift observation/perspective distances, open roles’ portrayals to any age, include and inform the audience, etc. There’s correlation with the character’s internal and external dialogue. A workshop goal is to figure out what narration to keep even if actions can be rendered on stage. A significant sub-goal focus is SHE’s narration when SHE is in a nonverbal feral state. Does SHE render the narration at different levels of awareness? Or do others narrate? Or is the narration omitted as she ‘speaks’ through her body?

Tricky sticky dialogue.

(a) Ensemble spoken word: Zoom audio challenges restricted unison dialogue which I hope to selectively integrate, as well as working language so it communicates and flows. There’s tense-dancing too due to shifting perspectives/distances, and this needs to be carefully considered.

(b) Ensemble columnspeak: working the language and its spacing so actors are able to carry intention and audience can hear each character (except for select intentional word mosh pits).

(c) TEE’s word slams – paring text to purest bones, working the language so it flows, seeking ‘landing points’ for emphasis, etc.

*Re: Navajo Nation setting: Playwright is Indigenous-heritage’d. Playwright is not Navajo. Playwright intends to continue to collaborate with Navajo Consultants in order to respect Navajo culture, language, traditions and taboos. Playwright is very grateful to Geri Keams for her guidance and feedback and comments both during the writing of the play – leading to significant changes — and upon its first reading via Zoom.

**Re: GNC characters: The two primary characters are singular pluralities. Playwright will seek opportunities to collaborate and workshop the play with genderfluid or NB individuals in the hopes of organically and fully realizing each of these characters’ renderings.

An Indigenous-heritage’d dramaturg would be greatly preferred.  Otherwise if the dramaturg could be BIPOC, please.

How to Apply

Please send an email introducing yourself both professionally and personally. Please tell us which playwright and play you would like to work with and why you think you would be a good fit. Include any questions you might have.

Email: Elaine Smith,

Deadline: January 4,  2021, 5 pm EST