Polyphone Festival Submission Guidelines



DUE AUGUST 1, 2018 11:59pm (See below for how to submit.)


Polyphone is a nationally recognized festival of the emerging musical at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. For the last four years we’ve brought composers, librettists, directors, choreographers and music directors from the field onto the campus of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at UArts to work with student casts and creatives on never before produced musicals.

Each year we program four new musicals. Each musical is cast from around 150 auditioning students, workshopped and rehearsed for six weeks, and teched for three days. During the festival week, each musical receives three performances. The final presentations are off-book, staged concert productions with a full band and lighting design. The process allows the authors to make changes over the rehearsal period and see a musical on its feet for the first time. On the last day of the festival, we perform all four shows in a 12-hour marathon on two stages. This year Polyphone will be housed in the Philadelphia Arts Bank Theater and The Wilma Theater on S. Broad St.

Each year Polyphone plugs over 100 undergraduate theater students into the process of new musical development. In the process we support emerging artists with a paid opportunity to make their work, give students on-the-ground training in the creation of new work, and give adventurous new musicals time and space to develop, free from the pressures of commercial interests, producing theaters, or reviews.

César Alvarez is the Founding Artistic Director of Polyphone

Past Polyphone Artists include:
Stew, Joanna Settle, César Alvarez, Heather Christian, Jaclyn Backhaus, Andrew Neisler, Annie Tippe, Jeanna Phillips, Michael R. Jackson, Stephen Brackett, Malika Oyetimein, Joshua Gelb, Dan Fishback, Orion Johnstone, Andrew Butler, Andrew Farmer, Kent Nicholson.

Polyphone has also developed musicals by the Philadelphia-based collective Red 40 and the Last Groovement and the Brooklyn-based theater company To Rena, Love Us.


The American Theater Wing’s documentary, Working in the Theater


  1. Artistic Fee.
  2. (for Non-Philadelphia artists) housing stipend, travel reimbursement to Philadelphia.
  3. Paid professional director, music director, and choreographer. If a project has an attached director, music director, or choreographer, we will work to bring them on board.
  1. Student cast, band, and creative assistants.
  1. Dramaturgical, logistical and technical support from the festival creative leadership and the UArts community.


  1. We are looking for original musicals with a cast of 7 or more characters. A cast of 10-15 is ideal. We define a musical as a performance in which music is a primary mode of storytelling. This can include ensemble-based, devised, experimental and/or operatic work.
  2. The musical should have a completed first draft and ideally will have been read at least once in a workshop or concert setting.
  3. Authors and lead creatives must be based in the NYC or Philadelphia regions during the rehearsal and festival period. Non-Philadelphia artists are housed for weekend rehearsals, tech and festival weeks. There is no housing for the full 6 week rehearsal period.
  4. Lead creative team members should be available for rehearsals Friday Nights, Saturdays and Sundays January 18 – February 17. And for three tech rehearsals between Feb 19-24. And for at least one show during festival week February 26-March 3.
  5. Artists that are current graduate or undergraduate students are not eligible with the exception of UArts students and MFA students at the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training.

Please Note:
Polyphone is a hybrid educational and creative opportunity. Polyphone guest artists are asked to play the role of educator and artist during the rehearsal period.

Polyphone Festival performances employ minimal costumes and props, and no scenic design.

Authors may submit more than one musical in a separate applications

The festival staff is especially motivated to program voices and stories that are traditionally underrepresented in the musical theater canon.


DUE AUGUST 1, 2018 11:59pm

Send the following in an email to Jen Jaynes, Submission Administrator: jjaynes@uarts.edu

Subject: Polyphone Submission 2019

  1. Name of Musical
  2. List of authors (including websites + phone numbers + email addresses)
  3. Brief description of Musical (100 words or less)
  4. Briefly describe the developmental history and any future plans for the musical.
  5. Briefly describe the work on your show you’d most like to get done during Polyphone. (100 words or less)
  6. Is there a director, music director or choreographer attached to the project? If so please list names and contact information. If you are submitting an ensemble-based piece describe the structure of your ensemble. Typically we bring a core group from an ensemble.
  7. Link to audio files of demos or live recordings from the show being submitted. (links must be active until November 1)


CVs of Authors, script of the musical being submitted.


The Polyphone Festival line-up will be announced in early October 2018

Polyphone was co-founded in 2015 by César Alvarez and Joanna Settle.

Questions about Polyphone?

Email Submission Administrator Jen Jaynes: jjaynes@uarts.edu

Email Artistic Director César Alvarez: calvarez@uarts.edu


Polyphone 2017: The Best Songs in the World Show

Search The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts