Frequently asked questions
Please note: The August 2021 Summer Residency Lab will be a scaled-down, all-local version and some of the answers below won’t apply this year.
What is the selection process?
There are a number of ways a project can find its way to The Ground Floor. Sometimes we will invite an artist directly. We always hold space for projects under commission or actively in development for Berkeley Rep’s mainstage season. And a large number of projects come to us through applications.
We generally receive between 600 and 700 applications every year. Our staff evaluates each one, and a long list of projects emerges that move on to a second round. Work samples will be requested at this stage. These are reviewed and considered, and pared down to a short list of about 40 projects.
At this point, we begin looking at projects in relationship to each other, and asking questions like: What feels like a balanced and exciting community? Is there interesting cross-pollination? Is this an inclusive and diverse lineup? Is there a balance of geography? Is there a variety of form and content?
Past Summer Labs have ranged between 13 and 22 projects. This changes from year to year, depending on various factors like capacity and budget. Applicants will be notified by February 15.
Should my application describe my dream residency, or basic needs?
Both! We’d love to know what your ideal is, as well as the minimum you’d need for the residency to be useful to you. This gives us some helpful parameters for budgeting and scope. We want to know what the pie-in-the-sky looks like for you, and if we can’t realize the whole thing, we might be able to at least sneak in an extra slice.
Why do you need my résumé?
We don’t look at these first, but they do provide us with valuable information as we try to create a well-rounded summer community. We invite plenty of first-time and early career playwrights, so we aren’t necessarily checking to make sure you have a long list of accomplishments. It simply helps us have a clearer picture of where people are at in their careers.
Why don’t you want to read my script?
We’ve designed the application form to get a sense of the artist and the project first. We also wanted people to be able to apply with just an idea, so artists who don’t have anything written or created yet would be on an even playing field with people who are further along in their process.
How long is a residency?
Anywhere from one week to four weeks. Most end up being in the one-to-two week range. This is another opportunity to tell us what your dream length is, as well as the minimum duration that would be useful for you.
Do you accept musicals?
YES. (And yes, this is in caps on purpose.)
Can I receive feedback on my submission?
Sorry, no. We are a small staff and don’t have the capacity to respond in detail to individual applications.
What does The Ground Floor provide?
If you are coming from out of town, we will provide travel and housing if you do not have a place to stay in the Bay Area. Everyone receives a small stipend. We eat dinner together every night, and coffee and snacks are available all day.
Can I re-submit the project I applied with last year?
Absolutely. Please acknowledge this in your application and indicate if your thinking has changed since the previous year, if you’ve done any work on the project since your last application, etc.
I’m working on a few things. Can I submit more than one application?
Yup. There is no limit on the number of times you can apply.
I’ve applied before and not gotten in. Should I keep trying?
Please do. Many of our previous participants applied for years before receiving an invitation. At the very least, an application puts your project on our radar. Rejection is hard, and we don’t take that lightly. But we do encourage you to keep trying.
Can I bring my own actors? Director? Dramaturg?
When you apply for a project, you are invited to list your co-collaborators, if applicable. We think of these people as the artists you could not make the project without. If there are people it’d be icing on the cake to have with you, but who aren’t essential at this stage of your development, let us know that too. In other words, this might be another opportunity to tell us about your dream scenario, as well as other less elaborate options if those exist.
What if I don’t have collaborators yet?
No problem. Some artists simply want a space to write in alone. If you are further along in your process, we love matchmaking and are delighted to work with you to identify collaborators if you don’t already have some in mind. We frequently hire local artists to work on Summer Lab projects. Keep in mind that we are a very flexible program. We have hosted composers, musicians, playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, actors, dancers, and visual artists. We thrive on experimentation. If your collaborators are a xylophone player and a scarf dancer, awesome. Tell us all about it.
What if my question isn’t answered here?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ground Floor is supported by Louise Gund, Frances Hellman & Warren Breslau, Michael & Sue Steinberg, and other individual supporters of Berkeley Rep’s Create Campaign. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tournesol Project, and Bank of America.
What artists say about the Summer Residency Lab
Developing a play is mortifying. Everything is lousy and you keep fixing and you’re embarrassed to have written something that’s not working and given it to people who are trying to make it work. Ground Floor gathers many playwrights so we can all be mortified together, and find solidarity and inspiration to keep going and make it elegant and magical and luminous which sometimes, believe it or not, actually happens.
In their own quiet, unheralded way, the Berkeley Rep artistic team is spearheading a revolution. On the smallest level, they are dedicated to the nurturing of artists—feeding us, housing us, giving us time to create. But on the largest level possible, they are dedicated to nothing less than a wholesale change in the artistic landscape of our time.
Something that seems unique about The Ground Floor’s Summer Residency Lab is that all the projects are uniquely non-traditional in an exciting way, and that many of them are in earlier stages that often aren’t allowed in these better opportunities, where you get taken care of.