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Propose to Direct at PW!

Do you want to direct in PW's downstairs space? Yuuuuuuus you do. This page tells you the basics of what you need to know to do it.

Proposals for PW's Spring Season (April and Commencement slots) will be due in February.

Ben is the person to contact this year if you're interested in proposing. But as always, please feel free to contact any board member if you have any questions or would like more information!


The proposal process is designed so that the board can get to know your project and vision as best as possible. We encourage you to be specific, thorough, and to start early.

Proposals are accepted on a seasonal, rather than a per-slot, basis. All three slots for the Fall at PW season (september, october, december) are decided at the end of the previous spring semester. The Winter at PW season (February and March slots) is decided at the end of the previous Fall. And Spring at PW (April and commencement slots) are decided early in the Spring semester. Each season will have a season coordinator, who is a member of the PW board (Spring Season's mentor is Ben ).

Contact the season coordinator as soon as you have any inkling that you might want to propose. The season coordinator will put you in contact with your own personal Proposal Buddy who will guide you through the proposal process. They will happily provide feedback on drafts of your proposal. It is also important to contact us early on so we can check rights availability for your project.

The Proposal Process

By the due date (usually a Sunday at 5pm, check our calendar for specific seasons), please send the season coordinator a copy of the proposal via email (including application cover page), and put 2 paper copies of the proposal and 2 copies of the script in the PW Box Office. If the script is electronic, it can be emailed to your Proposal Buddy, though paper copies are very much appreciated in addition to electronic ones. If the work is unscripted, please provide a detailed description of the performance piece.

The Proposal

Please ATTACH the APPLICATION COVER PAGE, found downspace_application_renewed.doc

We've changed the proposal process fairly significantly, so please read carefully!

Please remember to include: Title, author or creator, director, director’s phone number.

  • The written proposal is a chance for you to lay out your ideas for your project. Written proposals that are more than ten pages are usually unnecessarily long, so it’s a good idea to keep your proposals at ten pages or less. Below you'll see some questions that we suggest you consider answering in your proposal. We usually call these questions “guidelines,” not “requirements,” because in all honesty that’s what they are. You aren’t required to write anything specific– you could turn in an epic poem to us and we would read it. In the PW boards’ collective experience, however, we’ve found that most successful proposals are a) not usually epic poems, and b) all touch on similar topics that are pretty integral to writing a proposal. We are therefore laying them out here to give you a heads up on the kind of info we want from you about your project. If you think there’s an interesting angle or aspect of your project these questions don’t lead you to talk about, branch out from the standard questions to include whatever it is you need to say…or just include that information in your pitch (more about the ~pitch~ below). Remember, you only have ten pages to say whatever it is you need to say! Bear in mind that this is a shorter page limit than written proposals have historically had. Also, feel free to answer these questions in whatever format you feel best suits/represents your project. Some people write one continuous essay, some people use headings to group their ideas together in their own categories, and some people answer each question exactly as we posed them. Choose whichever format feels right for your project, and definitely talk to your proposal buddy if you feel confused at all!

1) What are you proposing?

2) What is your vision for the project?

3) Describe a moment and how you would create it with your cast and/or team.

4) Why should this project be given time and resources in the Downspace, specifically? Some reasons you may consider include: the specificity of the project, your perceptions of pw and its work, the unique opportunities the Downspace offers, current events and trends (on any scale), and your positionality with respect to the project and its goals.

5) What’s something you’ve learned in the past that will inform you and your project in the future?

6) What are you afraid of as you approach this project?

7) It is important to foster diversity and inclusion in art and performance at Brown. In what ways will you ensure that your project and process will do this? Be specific and be sure to consider all aspects of production (e.g. casting, production team, rehearsals, etc.)?

The Pitch

  • The pitch is your chance to communicate your ideas to us in a format other than writing. After you submit your written proposal, you’ll have an opportunity to meet with the board face to face. You’ll have five minutes to say anything you want to us about the play. You can structure the time however you want: do a close reading of a scene for the whole time; bring a tech team in to have a panel conversation; or look straight into our souls and pitch your vision with an impassioned five minute speech. Pitch time should be your opportunity to be an advocate for yourself in the proposal process, so if you feel that there’s any place where your written proposal doesn’t fully address something the board seems concerned about, the pitch is a chance for you to have the floor for long enough to communicate and connect with us! Then, after your pitch, the board will take fifteen minutes to engage you in a conversation about your project. We’ll ask some questions based on the proposal and pitch, and hear what you have to say in response!!
  • The bottom line is that the pitch is not meant to be scary or intimidating– it’s meant to allow you to communicate clearly and directly with the board. Use the time as you think best, and always always always remember that your proposal buddy is your best resource if you feel confused or lost about how to approach any of this.

Other Essential Bits

  • Staff

The proposal system does not require you to have your entire staff on the proposal. That said, we DO require you to have a design staff on the proposal, meaning a Set Designer, Lighting Designer, Costume Designer, and Sound Designer. (TDs are also difficult to find, so we strongly encourage you to locate a TD as soon as possible.) We don’t require a full staff because it can be so hard to track down enough people, but we’ve found that proposals are often improved when directors have had a chance to discuss the show with designers they will be working with.

The basic positions are usually the following (this of course will vary based on the project at hand):

Management – Stage Manager, General Manager
Designers – Lighting, Set, Costumes, Sound
Other – Technical Director

Learn more about the responsibilities of the different positions here. If you are having trouble finding staff members, check out our green book and feel free to contact the board and/or your board buddy for additional ideas.

ASSISTANTS: We highly encourage you to find assistants to each of your staff positions. We at PW firmly believe that assistantship is essential to fostering a growing community of talent. Not to mention they can be great helping hands! This is not essential at the time of proposing, but will be a great asset to your proposal.

  • Budget

The Downstairs Space shows are given a budget of $750. It is suggested that you provide some sort of budget breakdown. We understand that these are early days, so there is no need to be overly detailed (these numbers can and will change), but a basic idea of distribution is extremely helpful. There are resources to get additional funding if necessary; check out the Creative Arts Council for information on student arts grants.

  • Rights

Rights should be secured to produce your show before you propose to PW. Please do not attempt to secure rights yourself – talk to the season coordinator first. The board will take care of securing rights for your proposal. Rights do not come out of your $750 budget. *Note: Musicals can be very expensive, so please contact the board about whether or not your rights are affordable for our organization.

  • Appendix / Additional Materials

Feel free to provide us with anything that helps the board better understand your approach to your project. Examples: Inspirational images, preliminary set designs, tentative rehearsal schedules, etc.**


For a list of dates for each slot, check our calendar.
Logistical information about our Downstairs Space is here.
Take a look at the show packet, which includes a ton of really useful information about producing a show at pw. This will be distributed to the entire staff upon entering the space.
Here are some recent proposals to take a look at (Note that these were written before a 10pg. limit was instituted.):

The Skin of Our Teeth, 1st Slot Fall 2006
The Verge, 2nd Slot Fall 2007
Stone Cold Dead Serious, 3rd Slot Fall 2007
The Music of Erich Zann in the Penal Colony, 1st Slot Spring 2008
Big Love, 2nd Slot Spring 2008
Arcadia, 2nd Slot Fall 2008
The Thing About Air Travel, 3rd Slot Fall 2008
Crumble, Commencement Slot Spring 2009
The Sound, Winter 2010-2011
Goose and TomTom, March Slot 2013
Medea, March Slot 2014

Flashback! Old proposals are also available in the PWibary, which is located upstairs at TF Green, just past the upstairs bathrooms.


If you are not selected, do not be discouraged! Many proposals take a few tries to get passed. If you would like help crafting a second draft, please contact any board member, and we can help you prepare further. We strongly encourage re-proposing. Also, remember that Production Workshop is not the only space for student projects on the Brown campus, nor is it the only place with financial resources for such artistic endeavors. Student theatre has been enjoyed everywhere from our own “Upstairs Space” to the French House courtyard; check out our other theatre page for other groups on campus, and check out our grants page for more information on funding.


Assistant directing is a great way to learn the ropes; talk to a board member about how to get involved with our current and upcoming productions. For that matter, working on one of our shows in any capacity will help you learn what it’s like to direct at PW, so get involved! You can also propose to direct a show in the upspace that doesn't require the space and resources of the downspace.

propose.txt · Last modified: 2017/04/11 14:19 by llubeck
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