Strange Trace is pleased to announce our second annual Stencils Festival! We’re seeking proposals for short (up to 20 minute) works of chamber opera to be workshopped and produced by Strange Trace throughout our 21/22 season for inclusion in the Stencils Festival, to be held in the first weekend of June, 2022. If you’re a composer, librettist, playwright, or theater-maker and you’ve got an idea for us, we’d love to hear from you!
This year, the theme for Stencils is Thresholds! We’re looking for works that creatively engage with the theme in a variety of ways—literally, figuratively, metaphorically, surreally, metaphysically, etc.—so have fun with it. A threshold can be a door, a limit, a point of no return, a place of change, a veil, a plane of transformation—we’re looking forward to seeing the imaginative ways we can represent this theme through music and theater.
Who Can Apply
Stencils is open to anyone. Artists of all ages and nationalities are eligible to apply. Proposals can come from composers, librettists or composer/librettist teams—we use those terms as a convenience, simply meaning “music maker” and “word writer”—so even if you haven’t previously considered yourself an “opera person,” or even a traditional composer, we’d love to hear your proposal!
Artists of underrepresented identities are especially encouraged to apply.
Applicants need not be in the Boston area, as there will be the possibility for fully virtual participation from composers and librettists.
We are a small, self-started company gearing up for our second season. All artists selected for Stencils will be given an honorarium. The exact amount is not yet determined, but will be communicated in writing prior to accepting the commission.
What We’re Looking For
We love theatrical works of any style. Proposals should be for works under twenty minutes. A few things to bear in mind:
The exact format of the festival is not yet set—there may be a combination of digital and live presentations (TBD pending practical and safety concerns), so proposals should have a degree of flexibility in that regard
Stencils shows will be cast from Strange Trace’s five singer/actor members
Proposals with casts of 1-3 are especially encouraged
We will work with composers/librettists on casting, but all final casting decisions will be made by Strange Trace
The instrumentation available for the festival is not yet determined, but will be set by Strange Trace before the composition process begins
Works for open instrumentation and unaccompanied works are great, too!
Piano may not be available, but our keyboard player, Greg, has an awesome variety of electronic keyboard instruments!
Use of electronics is possible, with the understanding that the composer should be able to provide us with all the tools we need
We’re looking for shows that engage with our mission and values
You may submit a work that you have already begun working on, with the understanding that it will be tailored to fit Strange Trace through the development and production process of Stencils
Our first Stencils Festival wraps up on-demand viewing July 4-6th; if you didn’t catch it, we will be posting excerpt videos on our website soon. Our website and YouTube channel include other video productions, and applicants are encouraged to take a peek and see what we’re about!
The Application and Review Process
The application process has two rounds. For the first round, please fill out the corresponding Google Form, linked below, which will collect some basic information about you and your idea. The round one form is due by August 1st (at 11:59PM EDT). Artists can apply in one of four ways:
An individual composer/librettist (one artist who will write the words and the music)
A composer and librettist team (two artists who are proposing a work together)
A composer looking to be paired with a librettist (one artist who will write the music, and would like to meet an artist to write the words)
A librettist looking to be paired with a composer (one artist who will write the words, and would like to meet an artist to write the music)
Last year, we produced works from each of those categories, so please don’t hesitate to apply if you’re looking to be paired with a collaborator!
Each application will be read by Strange Trace members, scored, and discussed in group meetings to determine which proposals move to the second round. In the second round, in addition to requesting samples of your work, we will have specific questions for your proposal which came up in our discussion from round one.
From round two, a small group of finalists will be selected for interviews, which will help us determine the shows we will produce. These interviews will be held virtually, and will be scheduled during round two of the application process. We’ll make sure you have everything you need beforehand—we just want a chance to meet you and get to know you a bit!
The Production Process
Each selected work will be paired with a Strange Trace member who will serve as the project lead, and will help guide the show through a workshop process tailored specifically to each show, which will include events like table reads and discussions, brainstorming sessions, semi-staged libretto readings, score readings, rehearsals and coachings, and eventually the production itself! While there may be some in-person participation possible, all events will be able to be fully attended virtually. Below, you’ll find a rough timeline which, while subject to change, will give you an idea of the scope of the development process.
Please note that this is our current plan, but it is subject to change—particularly pending safety concerns. We will be very communicative about scheduling.
JULY 1st: Stencils Festival 2022 Call for Proposals opens
AUGUST 1st: Round 1 form closes at 11:59PM EDT
SEPTEMBER 1st: Proposals selected for round 2 are notified and materials are requested
SEPTEMBER 8th: Round 2 materials are due
SEPTEMBER 30th: Finalists are notified and interviews are scheduled
OCTOBER 8th: Winners are selected and notified
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER: Libretto writing and workshopping
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER: Score writing
JANUARY: Score draft reading and workshopping
FEBRUARY: Rehearsal score due
FEB/MARCH/APRIL: Music learning, rehearsals and coachings
MAY: Staging rehearsals and/or filming
JUNE: Stencils Festival!