Submissions Now Open for
the Relentless Musical Award

(January 24, 2022 – New York, NY)

The American Playwriting Foundation (David Bar Katz, Founding Artistic Director) and Building for the Arts (Wendy Rowden, President; Josh Landay, Chief Operating Officer) have announced that submissions for the Relentless Musical Award are now open and will close on March 1, 2022. The creators of the winning submission will receive $65,000, the largest cash prize in American theater presented to an unproduced work. There is no fee to apply.


The annual Relentless Award, created in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman, will be presented to a musical submission this year in honor of Adam Schlesinger, an Academy & Tony-nominated and Emmy & Grammy-winning songwriter who passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. Schlesinger had served as an artistic advisor during the creation of the Relentless Award in 2015.


Led by David Bar Katz, the Relentless Award Selection Committee places special emphasis on works that are fearless in their choice of subject matter, featuring passionate voices that are relentlessly truthful. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Relentless judge Lynn Nottage said, “The Relentless Award celebrates writing that disrupts and upends our notions of what can be presented on the American stage. We are looking for brave, fearless and imaginative writers, who despite the tug of the industry at large, remain unabashedly true to their own voices.”


The Relentless Award selects eight finalists from several thousand submissions using blind evaluation, keeping the writers completely anonymous throughout the process. Judges will have no knowledge of the identity, gender, or race of a work’s creators. Criteria for submission casts a wide net of eligibility – essentially any unproduced new musical is eligible – but submissions by first-time composers, lyricists, and book writers of all identities are especially encouraged.


The winner of the Relentless Musical Award will be selected by a panel of judges including Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Ann Yee (Caroline, or Change), Lynn Nottage (Clyde’s), Thomas Bradshaw (When They See Us), Sam Hollander (“Ordinary Joe”), and Stephin Merrit (The Magnetic Fields).


The winning musical, along with finalists and semifinalists, may also receive opportunities to have their work developed at various theatrical institutions, including a series of staged readings at Theatre Row.


Eligibility/Criteria for Submission

  • There is no fee to apply.

  • Only full-length works of musical theatre are eligible for the Relentless Musical Award.

  • The work must be unproduced and cannot have had a previous professional production or a current production commitment.

  • Applications are limited to shows by writers with United States citizenship, those who possess a green card, or currently reside in the United States and have lived here for at least four (4) years.

  • Musicals that utilize extant music not written by the applicant(s) (e.g. “jukebox musicals” or musicals with parody lyrics) are ineligible.

  • Writers must be at least 21 years old.

  • Works may be based on underlying material, in which case proof of authorization or right to adapt the underlying material must be uploaded with the application if it is not in the public domain.

  • Musicals that include non-English languages are welcomed and encouraged, but in recognizing the current limitations of the reading committee, an English translation must be included for any non-English text.

  • Writers and composers who have had a show produced on Broadway or the West End are ineligible.

  • Musicals considered to be “Theatre for a Young Audience” are ineligible.

  • Shows may only be submitted for consideration ONCE; if submitted for the 2022 Relentless Musical Award, the show will be ineligible for future Relentless Musical Awards.


The submission window is from January 25, 2022 until March 1, 2022. For details on how to submit and required materials, please visit americanplaywritingfoundation.org/the-relentless-award.


The American Playwriting Foundation, established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his relentless pursuit of truth in the theater, has presented the Relentless Award annually to a playwright in recognition of a new work. The Relentless Award has led the way in spotlighting plays and artists that have revitalized the American stage by some of theater’s brightest new talents, including Aleshea Harris, Clare Barron, and Sarah DeLappe.


Building for the Arts (BFA) expands access to the performing arts by providing creative space, learning opportunities, and hubs for artistic connection. BFA’s signature projects – Theatre Row, Music and the Brain, and the American Playwriting Foundation– nurture artists, audiences, and youth with a focus on accessibility and inclusion.