JAW History

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About JAW

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!

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JAW 2016 Full Company

Since launching in 1999, JAW's principal focus continues to be the playwright and the creative process. Each year, three to four playwrights, whose work is chosen from nearly 200 submissions, 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 2017 festival begins with artists in residence starting July 17.
The Big Weekend of staged readings and other events open to the public will occur July 28-30.

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

*Dates are subject to change.*

JAW 2016 playwrights (l-r) Lauren Weedman, Nathan Dame, Mia Chung, Kevin Artigue
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JAW 2016 “Wild and Reckless” playwright Eric Early with actor Renata Friedman
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JAW 2016 Company of "The Saints" by Nathan Dame

Script Submissions


  • Only full-length plays and musicals are eligible for consideration.
  • We welcome submissions that have received prior readings or workshops, but plays that have received full productions are ineligible for JAW.
  • JAW exists to support playwrights as they explore their plays in process. We encourage submissions that are currently a step beyond their first drafts but in need of a collaborative development environment to help reach their next stage.
  • Submissions to JAW are accepted by invitation only. The sole exception to this rule applies to playwrights who are permanent residents of Oregon, who are welcome to submit a play with or without a formal invitation.
  • Finalists are selected through a “blind” reading process, meaning that the reading committee considers each play without knowledge of its title and authorship.
  • Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we can only accept one submission per author per year.

Submission Instructions

  • To submit to JAW, you must remove your name and the play’s title from all pages of your script (including headers/footers). Please create a separate document containing the title of your play, your name, and your contact information.
  • Email both documents in PDF format to jaw@pcs.org
  • Only electronic submissions are accepted. You will receive a confirmation of receipt within 3 days.
  • Submissions are accepted from November 1 through November 20, 2016. Playwrights who have submitted in the past may notice that this is a change from previous years, so please mark your calendars accordingly, as we will be unable to consider submissions that arrive after the deadline.
  • The festival selections will be announced in the spring, no later than May 1, 2017. JAW happens during the final two weeks of July each year (July 17-30, 2017).

Press Play

A series of dynamic performance pieces hand-selected for JAW that animate the building and engage audience members before every reading. Dancers, puppeteers, and musicians pop up throughout the building adding to the vibrant festival spirit of JAW.

Community Artist Labs

Artists from across the nation conduct educational labs for our local community on a diversity of performance-related topics. 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 19th annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival will kick off with staged readings of new scripts from 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 toPortland-area schools.

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JAW 2016 Promising Playwrights (l-r) Tristan Craft, Emma Leong, Alexandre Crepeaux, Maya Weichbrodt, Kaleb Black, Alex Denman-Still

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 Co-Producer

Brandon Woolley – JAW Festival Co-Producer

Benjamin Fainstein – JAW Literary Manager

Mary Blair – JAW Literary Associate

Will Cotter – JAW Festival Company Manager

Clara-Liis Hillier – Education and Community Associate

Eric Werner – Education and Community Assistant

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 our accessibility page.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

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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 Commission.

The Oregon Trail
Oct 29 – Nov 20
Hold These Truths
Oct 1 – Nov 13

Season Sponsors


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