Waltzing Mechanics

Chicago's Home for Documentary Theatre

Waltzing mechanics hosting first annual documentary theatre festival

June 1-2, 2018 | The Frontier


calling for submissions!

 deadline March 3, 2018 | submit your work below!

This two day event will feature selections from original works written by playwrights interested in telling stories about real people and events.

Each piece will be assigned a director, a cast of up to seven actors, and guaranteed two performances.  The festival culminates with a staged reading of Waltzing Mechanic’s next original play, Justice For, slated for full production in the Spring of 2019.  

Submission criteria

To be considered for the festival, submissions must meet the following criteria:

  • It’s a documentary play (see definition below);
  • It’s your original work;
  • It is between 15 - 30 minutes in length (either in entirety or includes a selection that meets these parameters); and,
  • It does not require more than 7 actors to perform;
  • Submitted electronically no later than midnight on March 3, 2018.  

What is a documentary play?

Conceptually, it’s not all that different from a film documentary or non-fictional literature.  But with documentary theatre, these stories and events come to life in a way only experienced on a stage.  The minimum and most essential criterion for these works is that they must be about something that actually happened and substantially utilize words spoken or written by real people.  From there, we encourage playwrights to creatively explore the medium and craft narratives in ways that exemplify or challenge convention.  So, if you’ve got an original piece where you play every member of your family, or a musical based on letters written by Civil War soldiers, or a dark comedy based on Senate hearings and Presidential Tweets, this is your moment.


Works that are based on real people or events do not necessarily meet the requirements for this festival.  Please review the following:

  • Works that are largely or entirely historical fiction (or any other type of fiction) will not be considered. 
  • Works that are based on or inspired by real people or events, but do not draw significantly and substantially from documented words written or spoken by real people, do not meet the selection criteria and will not be considered. 
  • Works that feature story and/or dialogue that is largely the original creation or imagination of the playwright will not be considered.
  • Works do not need to be entirely verbatim (for example, the playwright may choose to include a character, such as a narrator, to provide context, commentary or criticism); however, the overwhelming majority of the piece needs to be documentary in nature.  
  • Playwrights submitting non-autobiographical work may be asked to provide more information about their sources.

If you have questions, please email us at newplays@waltzingmechanics.org

submission form

Name *
In 2-3 sentences, tell us about about yourself and your interests as a playwright/documentarian.
In 300 words or less, provide us with a quick description of your work.
If you can share a link via Google Drive, Dropbox, or a similar service, please include it here.
Please check below if you would like to submit a copy of your play directly to us as an attachment.
Upon receipt, we will email you directly from an @waltzingmechanics account to provide further instructions.

Thanks for your interest!  We'll be in touch soon!