Getting my play produced, #9: submitting to Retro Productions, New York

Submitting to Retro Productions in New York

I sent “Lessons from Moonshine” to Retro Productions, a theater in New York. I interviewed the artistic director of this theater, Heather Cunningham, for a set of podcasts I developed. I knew who she was because I had seen her in “When You Coming Back, Red Ryder?” at Retro Productions when I was in New York in 2009.

Retro Productions produces plays that are essentially of the 20th century. In other words, they couldn’t have taken place at any other time. What’s more, they want plays with good roles for women.

I also know that they have a small theater in a small green room, so play with only five actors in it is easier for them to produce than one with 15, for example.

So I think my play is a good fit for them.

What I sent them 

On their Web site, they say to send a hard copy of the script. That’s all. So that’s what I’m going to send to Heather. With a cover letter, of course, and a self-addressed stamped postcard.

A hard copy of the script

So, how to format my script? Most theaters specify standard play format. But when I googled “standard play format” back in November, when I was working on my website Playwright’s Muse, I found at least five definitions of “standard play format.” Five!

The one that has the most links to it is at a site called Playwriting Seminars by Richard Toscan at Virginia Commonwealth University. So I mostly use that one. Only thing is, Courier is a sucky font when you have variable-width fonts available. I like Palatino.

Here’s a link to my page about standard play formats:

The cover letter

Dear Heather:

I’m submitting my play “Lessons from Moonshine” for Retro Productions’s consideration.

“Lessons from Moonshine” is a long one-act comedy/drama running 80 minutes. The cast includes five women, ages 20s to early 60s. The play uses a unit set and simple costuming. 

The play is set during Prohibition, about a small convent of nuns who keep their convent in business by running a still. Just like the recession we’re in now, these women face hard economic times. And like needle exchanges and other current social services, they are trying to reduce the harm caused by poisoned bootleg moonshine, with the addition moral dilemma of having to break the law to do it.

I’m sending “Lessons from Moonshine” to you because it is essentially of the 20th century. Also, itwould do well in a city that has a substantial Catholic population. And it has great roles for women!.

I’m enclosing the script, and so you can easily let me know you received the script, an SASP.

You can reach me at or (206) 748-0698. I look forward to hearing from you.


Louise Penberthy

I also added a handwritten note at the bottom, because I know her.

The synopsis

Imagine that crack cocaine, laced with poisons, is killing people in your neighborhood, and that you can make and sell pure crack that wouldn’t kill people. Would you do it?

In Prohibition-era, rural Washington State, Sister Joseph dedicates herself to financial management of the small convent she belongs to. But when she can’t save the convent from going bankrupt, the youngest sister, Sister Rose, has the winning idea: to run a still.

It works. The Sisters gratefully pay off their debts and make repairs they have put off for years. People in the valley have a safe alternative to the bootleg liquor that was poisoning and killing them. But success and money tempt Sister Joseph away from her vow to live in poverty. She pushes and bullies Sister Rose to make more and more alcohol.

Then a terrible accident with the still injures Sister Rose and nearly kills Sister Joseph. Finally, she confesses why she so desperately needs the money: to build a beautiful church so she can find the inner peace she has struggled without for 20 years.

Sister Joseph and Sister Rose forge a cautious truce: to run the still just enough longer to repair the damage they have done. The play ends with the Sisters saying the Office of Compline, with its timely warning: “Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the Devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

Wish me luck!

I’ll let you know what happens.


About playwrightsmuse

Get produced, get published, let your brilliance shine! Follow along as we go through a step-by-step process for getting plays produced with the least amount of heartbreak and wasted postage and printing costs.
This entry was posted in Getting my play produced -- "Lessons from Moonshine", How to find Theaters who will Love your Plays, Submitting to Retro Productions, NYC. Bookmark the permalink.

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