Every summer, we get reminded about the vitality of this ever-changing, crazy fun, wild world of theater. JAW (short for Just Add Water) takes over the Armory as the universe of artists required to make a play — writers, directors, dramaturgs, actors, stage managers — gathers to pull apart and then put back together, the newest work from some of the country's most exciting writers. At first the work is done in separate rooms, play by play; thoughtfully assembled groups with intense focus and brave brains. Then, as the two weeks reaches its final days, the building opens wide with the Big Weekend, inviting hundreds of audience members to become part of the creation by joining us for staged readings of these spanking new scripts - and a slew of performances from other Portland theaters and arts ensembles - all free and open to the public. Join us!

Since launching in 1999, JAW's principal focus continues to be the playwright and the creative process.   Four Playwrights chosen from nearly 200 submissions nationwide collaborate with directors, dramaturgs, actors, and other theater professionals from across the U.S. to read, revise, and sometimes completely re-write their scripts, discovering through the process what does or does not work in the transition from page to stage. Joining them are Promising Playwrights,  high school students selected from PCS’s Visions & Voices program, who write and develop their own short plays, working alongside the professionals. All of the playwrights’ works are then presented in staged readings for the public.


The 2016 festival begins on July 18th with the public readings July 28-30.

*Dates are subject to change.*


As always, JAW is FREE and open to the public.


Script submissions

What plays are eligible?

  • Only full-length plays or musicals are eligible for submission to JAW. 
  • We accept plays that have not had full production; plays with prior readings or workshops are acceptable. 
  • Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, we can only accept one submission per playwright.
  • Unsolicited submissions are accepted from Oregon playwrights only

How do I submit? 

  • For each play submitted, we need two (2) .pdf files: The first .pdf is your play's title page (e.g.: JAW TITLE PAGE.pdf). Your title page should contain the name of the play, your name, address and contact information. The second .pdf is your play itself (e.g.: JAW PLAY.pdf).

    Please make sure that the .pdf of your play does not contain your name or the name of your play anywhere in the document. 

    JAW TITLE PAGE.pdf                                                              JAW PLAY.pdf
  • You can submit your files here. If you have any questions regarding submissions, you can email your questions to jaw@pcs.org

press play

Dynamic performance pieces hand-selected for JAW will animate the building and engage audience members before every reading. Dancers, puppeteers and musicians will pop up throughout the building before and after readings.

Wes Guy & the Road Trip Massacre Crew, 2013 JAW

Polaris Dance Theatre, 2013 JAW

Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan, 2013 JAW


community artist labs

Artists from across the nation will conduct labs for our local community. Admission is FREE, but in order to maintain a high level of quality, attendance for each lab is limited and determined by random lottery. 


promising playwrights

The 17th annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival will kick off with staged readings of new scripts from six Portland-area high school playwrights. Come ready to celebrate and socialize.  These Promising Playwrights are selected from our Visions & Voices Playwriting Program, a residency program offered to Portland-area schools.


jaw staff

Just a few of the hardworking folks behind the JAW festival. Contact us at jaw@pcs.org.

Rose Riordan - JAW Festival Director

Kelsey Tyler - JAW Festival Producer

Brandon Woolley - JAW Festival  Assistant Director

Benjamin Fainstein - JAW Literary Manager

Mary Blair - JAW Literary Associate

Don Kenneth Mason - JAW Festival Company Manager


accessibility info

PCS is committed to making our performances and facilities accessible to all of our patrons. Wheelchair seating, sound amplifying devices and large print programs are available for JAW. For more information, visit pcs.org/access.



JAW is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust: Oregonians sustaining, developing and participating in our arts, heritage and humanities. Additional support is provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council/Work for Art and the Oregon Arts Commision.

Ain’t Misbehavin’
October 24 — November 29

The Santaland Diaries
December 2 — 27

Sign up for the PCS email list.

Season Sponsors