commission, young audiences, new play


Guiding Question: What characteristics contribute to a successful commission of a new play for young audiences? Defining various types of commissions taking place in the field of theatre can help to set a precedent for defining commissioning processes and goals within the field of theatre for young audiences. Each field has their own specific needs, and I am interested in how the details of various commissioning processes can help to articulate some of the vital aspects of this work. This thesis looks at the broad process of commissioning a new play for young audiences through the study of one specific commission process. While the word 'successful' remains relative and depends greatly on who and what is defining any given notion of success, for this study, I define a successful production and script as one that pushes the field forward in at least one way, invokes strong audience responses, and involves artists who care about the integrity and value of theatre for young audiences. This study analyzes the commissioning process for Turning Ten by The Potomac Playhouse in the Theatre for Young Audiences program, through detailed interviews, journal observations reports, and research on theatrical commissioning. As I closely observed this commissioning process, I explored the following questions: how does Turning Ten fit into a 'type of commission' as referenced earlier in the thesis, how does Turning Ten fit my preconceived notion of a 'successful' commission?; how do the responses of the audience and production team members contribute to a successful commission? Throughout my research, my ideas of commissioning were broadened by the eagerness of the artists involved to bring what they believed to be a valid story to the stage and make it as unique and influential as possible. Turning Ten involves bringing a specific community and culture to life on stage and the team involved in making this happen proved that commissioning a script can be a valuable and worthwhile task in order to put something you feel passionate about in front of a live audience. I realized that the success of a particular project deals first with the script and the writing that is put on the table; then, the commission involves the ability of the creative team to shift and change with various timeframes and the willingness to work with the different personalities involved. All of these factors proved successful with this particular commission and a strong way to approach my research about this topic.


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Graduation Date



Wood, Vandy


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program









Release Date

March 2011

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)