Write and Read

Two characters argue over the virtual world experiments of a young man (in helmet) in Paper Wing’s production of Patrick M. Brennan’s 2017 play-reading competition winner 'Terms of Use'.

Paper Wing’s 6th Annual Play Reading Series is back, accepting submissions of new, full-length plays from California playwrights, which are then juried down to six of the strongest scripts. Those works get one rehearsal and one reading over the course of four days in September by seasoned actors in front of a live audience. The submissions are further judged until a winner is crowned. That winner gets a full production – costumes, lighting, rehearsals, the full monty – within two years’ time.

Erin Davison is the company manager and coordinates almost all aspects of the series, including publicity, outreach and coordinating the judges, directors and actors. She doesn’t vote on the scripts, but she knows what Paper Wing likes.

“Attention to detail. They’re almost ready to be put on stage,” she says. “Paper Wing looks for stories that are challenging or have some sort of moral value. I’ve been pushing to have more ethnically diverse stories.”

Other than that: surprise us.

The 2017 winner was Patrick M. Brennan’s Terms of Use, a near-future dystopian thriller about people interfacing deeply with virtual reality and the company that owns the technology and may want users’ memories too.

2018’s winner was The Monkey King by Chris McElwain of Monterey. It’s written completely in prose, most of it in rhyming couplets, and is about the East Asian legend of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King.

Davison says some people submit work without the intention of winning the competition in September; they do it to vet their work, to hear it live, and get the feedback. So no pressure.

“I don’t think there’s anything we don’t want to see,” Davison says.

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