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A Call for Submissions: Fifth Theatre Brut Short-Play Festival

 

Guidelines: 

New Jersey Repertory Company invites playwrights to submit plays for its Fifth Theatre Brut Short-Play Festival as part of its Festival of the Arts to be presented at NJ Rep-West End Arts Center Oct 1 – 8, 2017. The theme of the festival is "All About Eve". Submitted works must be unpublished and no more than 10-15 minutes in length. Although new plays are preferred, playwrights may submit work that has had no more than one previous production, as long as it has not been produced in New Jersey and there are no encumbrances from the previous production. There is no compensation, and playwrights retain all copyrights in their work. NJ Rep requests, but does not require, that in future productions and publications, NJ Rep and the Theatre Brut Festival be listed as having presented the work.

Plays can be dramatic, comedic, musical, or monologue, or whatever sparks your interest. Although the theme is specified, we are not prescriptive with regard to style, and how you interpret the theme is the province of each playwright. Keep in mind that Theatre Brut seeks to foster "the creative impulse unfettered by social and artistic convention" so let your imagination soar and be adventurous. If you have ever aspired to "experiment" or stretch the boundaries of theater, this is the time to do so.

Cast size should not exceed 4 (including any musicians). A piano is available. The actual performance area will be small, so keep that in mind in regard to the set and props requirements. Make sure you include the full script, a brief synopsis, character description, and playwright bio. Submissions should be emailed to njrep@njrep.org. In the subject line of your email put "Theatre Brut submission". Deadline for submissions is May 30.

 
THEATRE BRUT
A Manifesto

The creative impulse unfettered by social and artistic convention
 
It is our contention that at this moment in history mankind is standing at a precipice, and the critical question is whether the current conventions of theater as an art form are sufficient to confront the daunting ethical, moral, social, ecological, and political issues that we face today in America and the world.  Theatre Brut is a search for those elements in theater that can begin to answer Camus' concerns about a "universe that is deprived of illusions and where man feels a stranger". It is a proposed forum to explore the psychic impulses and external forces that have led to man's evolution into a species rapidly moving toward self-destruction as well as the destruction of this once green earth, the home to not only a creature that embodies the distillate of both darkness and light, but to a myriad of innocent, and unwilling fellow creatures.
 
Our search for a model and conceptual framework for such a theater led us to the Art Brut or outsider art movement, a concept first envisioned in 1923 by the German psychiatrist, Hans Prinzhorn, in his visionary book, "Artistry of the Mentally Ill" (Bildnerei  der Geisteskranken). Prinzhorn had been collecting  the paintings and drawings of patients in insane asylums, works that were often destined for destruction by doctors and staff  who considered them too disturbing or obscene, and generally viewed them as meaningless exercises. However, he theorized that these works needed to be protected for they provided a clear glimpse into the subconscious, and when executed by talented, untutored artists working outside of accepted artistic conventions, deserved the term, art.
 
Although more accepted today, in his time Prinzhorn's concept was revolutionary and his views were not fully validated until they were gradually embraced by the Surrealists as a model for their own work.  Decades later the artist, Jean Dubuffet, purchased Prinzhorn's original collection, which is now housed in a Swiss museum. Dubbufet felt that there was a stigma attached to the term "psychotic art" coined by Prinzhorn and he proposed the more dignified term "Art Brut" or "Raw Art". He further recognized that intuitive and original expression was not just the province of the mentally ill but could be produced by anyone working independent of mainstream and accepted cultural and artistic influences, thereby anticipating the broader term that is used today, "outsider art".
 
Dubbufet felt that the cultural world had destructive effects on originality and creativity, and that true individuality of expression could only be found outside of societal barriers. He further suggested that the mainstream culture always manages to co-opt each new development, thereby destroying its power, and that only the art of the artless was immune to the insidious influences of the cultural establishment in which no artist of genuine originality could survive.
 
Theater Brut is not isolated from the cultural mainstream but rather champions and seeks to expand the metaphoric "theatrical language" conceived of by Martin Esslin in his book "Theater of the Absurd", a language with which to explore a world "where man is increasingly cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots."  Theater Brut adheres and advocates for no specific movement nor philosophy, but merely aspires to support the development of plays unfettered by social and artistic convention where the "straitjacket of logic" (Freud), and "the fossilized debris of dead language" (Esslin) are replaced by innovation and wonderment so that the human condition can be made flesh on stage.