Acorn Productions, producers of the annual Maine Playwrights Festival, has begun accepting scripts for this year’s 14th edition of the state’s most vibrant incubator for new plays by local playwrights. This year, Acorn welcomes Daniel Burson, former Literary and Education Manager for Portland Stage Company, as co-Artistic Director along with Founding Director Michael Levine.

For the 2015 festival, Acorn has updated the script submission process, and any playwright whose primary residence is in the state of Maine is encouraged to submit a short play (between 8 and 30 minutes in length) for consideration by the reading committee. Acorn anticipates selecting between six and 12 plays for production, all of which will receive extensive support revising their piece during a workshop phase before the pieces go into rehearsals.

The final festival production will take place at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in May. Playwrights interested in submitting scripts should visit Acorn’s website at acorn-productions.org for complete guidelines and an application.

The Maine Playwrights Festival has evolved through the years from a series of dramatic readings at Acorn’s old studio on Congress Street to a full series of high-profile performances by some of Maine’s best-known playwrights. The 2015 edition re-centers the focus of the festival on the craft of writing, as all selected playwrights will be invited to participate in an active script development process. Burson’s addition to the festival’s artistic leadership brings a wealth of development experience and regional and national connections to the event.

"Joining Acorn's Maine Playwrights Festival as co-Artistic Director is a thrill for me as a dramaturg,” Burson said. “Being from Maine and bringing great new plays to life for the first time are two things I feel passionately about."

Burson is a freelance dramaturg and director in Portland. At Portland Stage Company, he administered the Clauder Competition for New England Playwrights and curated nine seasons of Portland Stage’s annual new works festival, The Little Festival of the Unexpected. His other dramaturgical work includes being a four-time Dramaturgy Respondent for KCACTF Region 1, and serving as Northeast regional co-vice president for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. As a director, he has worked with theater companies in Maine and Massachusetts including the recent world premiere of Travis Baker’s “One Blue Tarp” at Penobscot Theatre Company.

For the past 13 years, Acorn Productions has produced the Maine Playwrights Festival, an event that nurtures the development of new plays by local playwrights. Each year, playwrights submit close to 100 scripts of all lengths, and a committee of theater professionals reads them and selects over a dozen plays for production. These plays are presented in a series of performances over one or two weekends in the late spring at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland. The emphasis of the festival is on providing playwrights with the opportunity to hear their words during a rehearsal process with a professional director and actors who also contribute to script revisions. Over the years, Acorn has developed the work of dozens of playwrights, many of whom have subsequently had their work produced in theater festivals all over the country.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.