top of page

Ecodrama New Play Competition

Prepare your play!


The Earth Matters on Stage (EMOS) Ecodrama Playwrights Festival was founded in 2004 by Theresa May and Larry Fried in order to call forth and foster new dramatic works that respond to the ecological crisis, and, as part of that response, to explore new possibilities of being in relationship with the more-than-human world. EMOS calls for new plays that not only focus on current and historic environmental issues, but also looks for plays that enliven and transform our experience of the world around us, that inspire us to listen better, and instill a deeper or more complex sense of our ecological communities.[1] If your play does any of these things, prepare it for the next EMOS festival!


The EMOS Festival includes workshop performance(s) of the winning script(s), readings, talkbacks and discussions of the scripts that are finalists in the Ecodrama Playwrights’ Contest. The concurrent symposium will include speakers, panels, practice-based workshops, and discussions that advance scholarship in the area of arts, ecology and climate change, and help foster development of new works.


Since 2009, EMOS has rotated among host producing institutions.


Past EMOS Winners:

2018 - Rain and Zoe Save the World by Crystal Skillman

Two Seattle teenagers embark on an impulsive motorcycle journey to join a group of oil protesters on the east coast. But as they follow a major pipeline across the country, what began as two young activists’ longing to belong to something greater than themselves gives way to Rain and Zoe discovering that the true danger in this world might just be growing up.

Produced by Brian Cook at the University of Alaska Anchorage, EMOS 2018.

2015 – Thirst by MEH Lewis & Anita Chandwaney 

In an “untouchable” Indian village crippled by drought, an intrepid young reporter investigates the corrupt water delivery system. But when her sister suddenly disappears, the investigation becomes personal.

Produced by Jonathon Taylor at University of Nevada Reno, EMOS 2015.


2012 – Sila, the first play of The Arctic Cycle, by Chantal Bilodeau

A climate scientist, an Inuit activist and her daughter, two Canadian Coast Guard Officers, an Inuit Elder, and a polar bear—see their values challenged as their lives become intricately intertwined. Sila received its premiere in a joint production of the Underground Railway Theatre and Center Square Theatre, Boston, in 2015, and was recently published by Talon Books.

Produced by Wendy Arons at Carnegie Mellon University, EMOS 2012.


2009 – Song of Extinction, by EM Lewis

A musically talented teen and his father whose mother/wife is dying come to understand the deeper meanings of extinction from a Cambodian science teacher. Song of Extinction premiered at the Moving Arts Theatre in Los Angeles and was recently published by Samuel French.

Produced by Theresa May at University of Oregon, EMOS 2009.


2004 – Odin’s Horse, by Rob Koon

A writer learns something about integrity from a tree sitter and a lumber company executive, went on to premier in Chicago in 2006.

Produced by Theresa May and Larry Fried at Humboldt State University, EMOS 2004.

[1] Theresa May, 2004 EMOS Festival position paper.

General guidelines for Playwrights:

Scripts must be original works which have not been published and have not had an Equity or full professional premiere production. (Readings or informal workshop productions are okay.)


In general, we are looking for plays that do one or more of the following:

  • Engage the personal, local, regional and/or global implications of man-made climate change.

  • Put an ecological issue or environmental event/crisis at the center of the dramatic action or theme of the play.

  • Expose and illuminate issues of environmental justice.

  • Explore the relationship between sustainability, community and cultural diversity.

  • Interpret community to include our ecological community, and/or give voice or character to the land, or elements of the land.

  • Theatrically explore the connection between people and place, human and non-human, and/or between culture and nature.

  • Grow out of the playwright’s personal relationship to the land and the ecology of a specific place.

  • Theatrically examine the reciprocal relationship between human, animal and plant communities.

  • Celebrate the joy of the ecological world in which humans participate.

  • Offer an imagined world view that illuminates our ecological condition or reflects on the ecological crisis from a unique cultural or philosophical perspective.

  • Critique or satirize patterns of exploitation, consumption, or other ingrained values that are ecologically unsustainable.

  • Are written specifically to be performed in an unorthodox venue such as a natural or environmental setting, and for which that setting is a not merely a backdrop, but an integral part of the intention of the play.


Please note: we will NOT consider:

  • ten-minute plays

  • one-act plays (unless they are longer than 60 minutes in length)

  • musicals (though we love them, we cannot financially accommodate their production for this festival)

Evaluation Process:

All submissions will be screened by a panel of readers for appropriateness of topic (see guidelines above), theatricality, and overall quality. Each play will receive scores from a minimum of 2 readers. Highly-scored plays from the first round will be read by additional readers and scored until a short list of 5 plays is determined. 


A panel of distinguished theatre artists from the USA and Canada will choose the winning plays from five final scripts. 


Past judges have included: Robert Schenkkan, playwright; Martha Lavey, Artistic Director, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL; José Cruz González, playwright; Ellen McLaughlin, playwright; Timothy Bond, Artistic Director, Syracuse Stage, NY; Olga Sanchez, Artistic Director, Teatro Milagro, Portland, OR; Diane Glancy, playwright; Marie Clements, playwright, British Columbia.

Submission guidelines will be posted here in advance of the next EMOS symposium, scheduled to be held in 2021.

bottom of page