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2024 Guide to a Successful

Director's Proposal

Thank you so much for considering submitting a proposal to direct at the Vortex for the 2025 season. This guide is to help you create the strongest possible proposal for the best possible production you can direct, particularly if you are new to the Vortex or new at directing in general


  1. Play Selection

Select a play that really speaks to you. Ask yourself a few simple questions: why this play and at this point in time? Why at the Vortex  and why in Albuquerque, New Mexico? What drew you to this script? Is this play relevant to a 2025 audience in Albuquerque? How so?


Another thing to consider when selecting a play is how many different locations will there be, and how large will the cast be. We will discuss why these are important questions later in the guide.


  1. Concept

    1. Concept

What is your concept for the show? What themes are drawing you to this play? What do you want to accomplish with this production? What do you want audiences to walk away with? What do you want your artists (performers and designers alike) to walk away with? What do you want to walk away with? Please don't simply give us a synopsis - we're looking for your ideas of bringing this play to life. Could there be unusual casting, a time period change, a new location - how would any of those affect the meaning of the play in the 21st Century?. Or if you believe none of those are possible or meaningful - tell us why.


  1. Setting

What setting do you want this play to take place? Some plays demand the setting be the same as in the script. Some plays offer a little more leeway. Should you choose to stray away from the setting, ask yourself why. Do you want to change settings to make the play more relatable to the Vortex audiences? To make it more relevant to the current time? Or do you want to do it just because you think it would be a cool idea, with no real thought beyond that. It should be noted when we say “setting” we mean the time/era and general place(s) the play takes place, not each individual location.


  1. Black Box Utilization

One of the privileges of being a black box theater is the ability to transform the space. The Vortex space has risers for seat banks that can be configured in any way from from conventional proscenium to in the round and all manner of configurations in between (please see theatre specs and seatbank designs in the proposal). But, again, ask yourself how intimately do you want the audience to be involved in the world of the play. Do you want the proverbial “fourth wall” to be made of steel or do you want a more transparent wall. And, when choosing seating configurations, again ask yourself why. For what purpose would you want audience all on one side, or two sides, or three sides, or four sides of the action. And don’t forget that the more sides the audience sits on, the more creative designs ought to be for maximal visibility.


  1. Resources

    1. Personnel

      1. The Director’s Team

We will always encourage directors to have a potential team of designers in mind at time of submitting their proposals, however we recognize the difficulty in committing people to a project if they don’t know if the show will even be picked up for the season, nevermind when in the season the show would be placed. As such, while it’s highly encouraged to have a design team in mind, it’s not necessary to submitting a directing proposal. When we refer to the director’s team, we mean the positions of: assistant director (optional), stage manager, assistant stage manager (optional), set designer, lighting designer, sound designer, costume designer, choreographer (optional), dialect coach (optional), intimacy director (“optional), and fight coordinator (“optional”). Most of these roles are self explanatory, but you’re probably wondering about some of these optional roles, especially if you’ve worked with the Vortex before and we’ve not really mentioned them in the past. The Vortex tends to view assistant directors and assistant stage managers as extra hands and eyes on the project as well as an opportunity for aspiring directors and stage managers to get a feel for the process without the responsibility of being fully in those positions. A sort of apprenticeship, if you will. As for the extra coaches/specialists, we strongly encourage having them, if the script calls for their specialties. I.e. if there’s physical violence, we encourage the use of a fight coordinator; if there’s on stage intimacy, we encourage the use of an intimacy director, ect. And we do like to keep the role of the specialty coaches and the director separate, so that the director can fully focus on the full show.


  1. Vortex Personnel

This section of the guide isn’t necessarily to help make your directing proposal, but rather, something to keep in the back of your mind as you consider working with the Vortex. The following is a list of the Vortex Personnel directors and their team are likely to be in contact with through the run of the production:

  • Board of Directors: the producing entity of the Vortex, made up completely of volunteers. Split up into several committees, each show will be assigned key board members to assist: at least two members from the Production Committee to serve as Production Liaison, at least one member from the Artistic Committee to serve as Artistic Liaison, and it would be good to become friendly with members from the Publicity Committee.

  • Technical Director: a paid staff member of the Vortex, charged with the technical aspects of the theatre. Also keeps the theatre calendar and is master of the keys both to the theatre and to the Vortex’s auxiliary space at the University Heights United Methodist Church.

  • Resident Painter: Charged with keeping the paints in the shop organized, and will assist with set painting, if need be. 

  • Properties Coordinator: Charged with keeping the props in the shop organized and accounted for.

  • Shop Steward: Also known as resident builder.

  • Costume Supervisor?: Charged with keeping the costume closet organized and assisting costume designers with their needs. 

  • Front of House Manager: charged with keeping the lobby ready for audiences, as well as answering phone calls and helping with reservations. This individual usually won’t come into play until the final dress rehearsal, but will be around for the run of the show (unless prior commitments create a scheduling conflict).


These folks are here to ensure the most successful production possible. If a director has any trouble finding designers or specialized coaches.directors, one of the above folks could help in the search.


  1. Facilities and Finance

    1. Facilities

As mentioned previously, we have a beautiful black box space that can be converted to near any configuration. The Vortex also boasts a show as well as prop and costume storage. Directors are to have their designers tour our facilities to make sure we have what they need to do their job before going out to purchase anything. We also encourage directors and designers to be collaborative and borrow from other theatres rather than making purchases.


  1. Finance

In the interest of full transparency, the Vortex is struggling financially, as are all the theatres in Albuquerque and the rest of the country. As such, we have been working these past few years to come up with creative ways to cut costs and make money. As you consider what play you want to direct, think about some of the financial implications. What would the material costs be to produce this show? The Vortex offers stipends to their directors, stage managers, designers, and performers, so bear this in mind when thinking of cast sizes (the Vortex also requires the use of some combination of understudy, swing, or double casting). However, don’t let that fact deter you. While a smaller cast may be more cost effective in stipends, we have also found great success in the box office from some larger cast shows.

Think of plays you think would sell well and recuperate production expenses. Of course, ticket sales alone will not cover the operational costs of keeping a nonprofit theater open, and the Vortex’s publicity committee is hard at work finding external sources of funding, but even the Vortex has a couple blind spots. While considering proposing to the Vortex, keep in the back of your mind, should your show be selected, any donors or sponsors you think may be particularly interested in your production.


  1. Next Steps

After reading this guide, you’ve decided you still want to submit to direct a play at the Vortex. What happens after you hit submit? Proposals will be disseminated to all members of the artistic committee, who will then read all the plays and proposals submitted. They will then create a short list of the plays they would like to see done at the Vortex from an artistic perspective, and pass that along to the production committee. The production committee will then cull the list down to what can feasibly be done at the Vortex. Both committees, along with the technical director, will then conduct interviews with the potential directors. After the interviews are done, both committees will build a season to bring to the full board of directors for a vote, after which successful candidates will be notified that their play will be produced, and where in the season they will fall. The goal is to have the season finalized late summer/early fall, with a season announcement in early fall, to better align with the season announcements of some of the other theatres in Albuquerque.


We hope this guide has been illuminating as you consider submitting a proposal to direct a show at the Vortex Theatre. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to

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