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Writing Plays/Screenwriting/Looking to submit my plays


Mr. Kelley,
I have two completed plays and have begun another. My problem is that I live in Illinois in an area with limited theatrical opportunities. I have looked online many times for contests, but restrictions such as location and age have prevented me from submitting. I just need to know if my plays have potential. Any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated.

Hi, Kathy.  

I'm sorry for taking so long to answer your question.  I hope you haven't given up.  I want you to e-mail me at because I have a question I want you to answer first that actually will help you.  Do you have any colleges or universities or community colleges near you or in neighboring cities or towns? You should send your plays to the schools nearby and their theatre departments will give you excellent critiques on your work.  Some may even pay you to put your work on.  That's a great way to start having your work produced and a lot of professional playwrights start this way.  There is a book also that has a list of all the professional and semi-professional theatre companies throughout the country that is handy to have.  I don't recall it now, but if you e-mail me to remind me I promise you I will get you it's title so you can get it.  I used to have one myself.  You should also look up regional theatres and even community theatres in Illinois.  There may be none where you live, but because you live in Illinois, it is likely that other theatres in your state will be willing to look at your plays.  I have to be honest that there is a lot of rejection in the playwriting field as there is in any other artistic field, but if you have the thick skin for it, when the right theatre snatches up your work, it is very fulfilling.  Any questions you have about this (sending query letters, interacting with theatre personel, etc.) Feel free to ask.  I hope I helped you. James

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James Edward Kelley


I cannot answer questions about writing screenplays. I can, however, answer questions about playwriting.


I won the Henry Fonda Young Playwright's Award for the first play I ever wrote. Faculty at Brown University allowed me to take free writing courses, resulting in two play commissions. I was an actor-in-residence at Brown University's Rites & Reason Theatre. I was a member of a comedy troupe called Daydream Theatre. I was a professional stage actor for a spell. I got into Mensa through my score on the Miller's Analogy Test, a verbal skills test you can take after receiving your Bachelor's Degree.


On-line literary journal, "Slurve"; "The Mensa Bulletin"

I was allowed to take free writing courses at Brown University. I'm currently enrolled in The Gotham Writers Workshop.

Awards and Honors
Henry Fonda Young Playwright's Award, nominated for Expert of the Month

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