National Music Theater Conference

Frequently Asked Questions

We assembled a list of frequently asked questions for your convenience, but should you prefer to ask your questions directly to a member of our literary staff, you are more than welcome. The O'Neill's Literary Office can be reached at or 860.443.5378 x227.

We devote much of our year to this process and are always happy to speak with applicants.
Please click on a question to view the answer.


What’s the process?

The literary office expects that around 300 scripts will be considered through Open Submissions
for the 2018 National Music Theater Conference (NMTC). For the first round, we read the first
30 pages of each project and listen to the accompanying music. Full scripts and other additional
materials will be requested from select applicants in January 2018. Final selections will be made
by the middle of April 2018.

Who is reading and listening to my work?

The O’Neill has a fantastic and select pool of readers for NMTC. Our readers work all across the country in music theater as directors, writers, composers and dramaturgs, and are chosen directly by Alexander Gemignani, Artistic Director.  Final selections are made by Mr. Gemignani. Here is a list of the readers for the 2018 National Music Theater Conference. 

Will I get a response or report on my music theater work?

No. The O’Neill does not provide feedback on any application that enters its Open Submission Process which is not selected for the summer. We believe it is a poor practice to give this type of response blind as it may encourage a writer to change their piece in the hopes of courting us, while at the same time alienating another theater that may like the work perfectly well as it is.

Why do I have to pay $35.00 USD?

The fee goes to support the Open Submission Process at The O’Neill.  This is a massive undertaking over ten months of the year, including as many as 1,500 applications across all disciplines, with more than 200 content reviewers. The enormity of this process and its appetite for resources requires that it be self-sustaining.

Am I eligible to apply?

You do not need an agent or other professional representation to apply to any Open Submission Process.  If you are 18 years of age and have the right to work in the United States of America, you are eligible.

Do you accept work from international writers?

Yes. We accept, and have developed, work from writers from around the globe. International writers must have the right to work in the United States.

I’m international; what does “right to work” mean?

“Right to work” simply means that you must have the right to earn a wage in the United States, as there is payment involved. We cannot help you acquire the proper visa, but we have hosted international artists in the past.

Is my work eligible?

NMTC has no specific content or style requirements. We support the development of all styles and genres of music theater, including operas and experimental works. Please note, however, that because our process centers on writing and revising all elements of the project (book, music, and lyrics), projects without original music, such as "jukebox" or "catalog" musicals, are not eligible for consideration. We also require that the work not have professional production prior to submitting and that the work remain unproduced until August 2018. A professional production means that the artists working on the show were compensated for their time, and that all of the theatrical elements one hopes to see in a production were present.

Can I submit a work that I have previously submitted?

Yes. We recommend that you share a new work with us each year. If you are submitting a
previously submitted work, we do ask that it be significantly revised. This means that you have
spent serious time making changes to the story and telling.

What does "professional production" mean?

• If your play had a reading or a workshop, or if scripts were still in the actors’ hands, we
do not consider that a “professional production.”
• If you had a production of the play that was produced by a college theater, we do not
consider that a “professional production.”
• If you had a production of the play, but those involved were not compensated, or it was
lacking significant theatrical elements -- such as lighting, puppets, etc. -- that you would
hope to see, we do not consider that a “professional production.”
• Projects that have participated in the New York Musical Theatre Festival or other fringe
festivals are considered professional productions for the purposes of our development

Can I submit more than one work?


I don’t consider it a “musical,” but my play has music in it. Should I submit it to the National Playwrights Conference or the National Music Theater Conference?

If music and lyrics are necessary to pushing forth the narrative of your piece, it could be
considered a musical, particularly if this happens frequently in the piece. Music’s mere existence
in a piece does not necessarily mean that your piece should be considered a musical.
The National Music Theater Conference offers support for both the development of text as well
as for the development of music. The National Playwrights Conference does not offer musical
support (beyond being provided with a sound designer). If your primary focus is to develop
music in your piece, then the National Music Theater Conference is structured to support you.
Applications for the 2018 National Playwrights Conference are accepted from Sept. 13, 2017 –
Oct. 13, 2017.

Does my piece need to be formatted in any specific way?

No. We recognize that your script may need to be in a  unique form to best communicate your ideas.

What kind of quality is expected of the demo?

The demo is used for the selection committee member to get a sense of the sound of the work. You always want to put your best foot forward, but we recognize that projects may be in varying states of development when submitted. We have received everything from recordings of the composer singing their own work to recordings of a concert or previous workshop; everything from a single piano to multiple instruments (real or synthesized); from home studio to professional studio. Please do make sure the songs are in the order that they appear in the script.

How many songs need to be included on the demo?

Please include no more than five songs on the demo, and we ask that the selections are in order to coincide with the script.

Do the five selected songs have to be in consecutive order?

No. While we ask that the songs are in the order that they appear in the script, they don’t have to be five consecutive songs. For example, you may chose to share with us the first two songs of the piece, three songs from the middle, and then the finale.

Do the five selected songs have to correspond with the first 30 pages?

No. While the songs must be in the order in which they occur in the work, not all have to occur within the first 30 pages.

May I submit more than five songs?

Not in the first phase of the submission process. If your piece advances in the selection process, you may be invited to submit more than five songs.

May I submit a video recording?

Yes. If you feel your demo song selections are better represented by video, you may submit video recordings of up to two of your submitted songs. Please note that submitting an audio demo track is still required. If you believe that submitting a video will highlight or support the music provided, you welcome to provide a video sharing link or submit a DVD.

Do I need to submit the score?

No, you do not need to submit the score; the materials that we outline in the application are sufficient for our needs.

What should my synopsis look like?

It should be no more than a page. It is most important to provide the reader with a clear
overview of the basic plot elements of the story.

What should my character breakdown look like?

We ask that your character breakdown include the gender and age of each performer. Beyond that, any information you wish to give about the characters’ look or personality is welcome, but not necessary.

What should I include in my statement of objectives?

Your statement of objectives should describe your hopes for the future development of the piece, and especially what you hope to accomplish at NMTC 2018. The more clear and specific you are about the work you hope to do at the conference, the better.  This is an opportunity to talk about your work; you need not be concerned with a plot summary or worry about giving away spoilers. This may, but does not have to, tie in with the development history of the work.

What does “residency” entail?

Creative teams are in residence at the O’Neill for two weeks during late June or early July. All
works developed include a dedicated cast, director, and music director.

How do I pay?

You can Pay Here or you can mail a check to Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, ATTN: National Music Theater Conference, 305 Great Neck Road, Waterford, CT 06385. Check MUST be made out to Eugene O’Neill Theater Center with National Music Theater Conference in the memo line.