Friday was our first selection committee meeting. Or actually the second, but the first was more of a meet-and-greet and as no one had read any of the plays yet, there wasn't all that much to talk about.
I'm going to try to blog through the festival selection as we proceed this next couple months in an attempt to shed some light on what may appear to be a somewhat mysterious process.
First the numbers:
Number of plays submitted - around 400.
Number of selection committee members - 13
Number of months until selection deadline - 4
The selection process is roughly divided into three stages.
In the first stage, every play reviewed read by two people, is given a brief summary and is marked by each reader in one of four categories - Strong consider, Consider, Weak Consider, or Return. If both readers give the play a consider or strong consider, it gets promoted to the next phase. If two readers disagree the play gets read by a third reader. Weak Consider is a new category and we haven't exactly decided how it plays into things yet.
If both readers give the play a return, it is then read by a staff member before being cycled out of the selection process. We try to be very vigilant about this - on more than one occasion, plays that have gotten two returns have been caught by a staff member and ended up in the festival.
In the second stage, we have about 50 plays that at least a couple people on the committee think are really valuable and deserve to be on the festival. When we're at this stage, most people on the committee will read most of the plays. Then we'll debate, champion, deride, prosthelytize, and throw food at each other until we can form some kind of a consensus.
In the third stage, we'll have clawed each others eyes out enough to have widdled these 50 excellent plays down to about 10 - 15. Everybody picks the 5 they think should be on the festival and tries to convince the other 12 people why they are the most right. It'll be fun.
More details soon. For now, I should do less blogging and more reading.