MFA Actor John Watkins in ALL THAT SHINES, NPF '12

New Play Festival

The first week of May is a special time for us, as we mount our annual Iowa New Play Festival (NPF). Join our annual week-long festival of new work written by MFA and undergraduate playwrights. Four full productions and daily staged readings are presented to audiences that include visiting professional writers, dramaturgs, directors, producers, theatre lovers, and new play enthusiasts. The 2015 NPF will be May 4 – 9.

Festival participants also have opportunities to discuss these new works through workshops, roundtable discussions, and receptions.

2015 Schedule of Events

View the full schedule of events for 2015 here!

2015 Productions

Faculty Portrait
By Sean David DeMers
Directed by Ariel Francoeur

Silo Tree
By Sam Collier
Directed by Nina Morrison

By Sarah Cho
Directed by Mario El Caponi Mendoza

Below the Pacific
By Ryan Oliveira
Directed by Marina Johnson

The Reading Series

Hunting BigFoot
By Theresa Giacopasi
Directed by Madison Colquette

By Sam Lahne
Directed by Ariel Francoeur

Binary Star
By G. Flores
Directed by Lesley Geffinger

Boom Boom Town
By Alysha Oravetz
Directed by Nina Morrison

Meloman (a music lover)
By Michael Tisdale
Directed by Michael Tisdale

Cut & Run
By Eric Holmes

Readings from the Undergraduate Playwriting Workshop

2015 Festival Guest Artists

Since its inception in the 1970s, the Iowa New Play Festival has brought guest artists to campus to meet with students. Festival Guests attend all performances and give feedback to the creative team for each show. The feedback is given in roundtable discussions following each reading and on the morning after each production or workshop. These roundtables help the playwright and his or her collaborators see their work in a professional context.

2015 Festival Guest Biographies

Len Berkman
Smith College’s Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Theatre Professor for 46 years, Len Berkman has helped 500+ plays/ productions develop at Sundance, South Coast Rep, Mark Taper Forum, Epic Theatre Ensemble, WordBRIDGE, and NY Stage & Film. Among former students: Wendy Wasserstein, Kathleen Marshall, Liev Schreiber, Patricia Wettig, Rob Corddry, Margaret Edson, Kevin Heelan, Leah Ryan, Addie Walsh, John Eisner, Jordan Baker, Erin Cressida Wilson, & (yes!) Dare Clubb. Plays, e.g.: Adultery Without Touch, ‘Til The Beatles Reunite, Voila! Rape In Technicolor, Oh, the Undoing, Quits, and These Are Not My Breasts. Essays, e.g.: in Modern Drama, Massachusetts Review, The Prairie Schooner, HowlRound, and Parnassus; in The Suzan-Lori Parks Casebook, Marie-Irene Fornes: Conducting a Life, and Upstaging Big Daddy. A Yale MFA and DFA grad, Len’s been an NEA and performance-training program evaluator countless times, a recurrent U. Hamburg Guest-Professor, and twice awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant.

Byran Delaney
Bryan Delaney is a playwright, screenwriter, and dramaturg. From 2010 to 2014 he ran the New Playwrights Programme at The Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre. His plays have had readings and productions at various theatres in Ireland, the UK, and the USA. Works include The Seedbed (winner Aspen Institute/Theater Masters Visionary Playwright Award; nominated L. Arnold Weissberger Award; finalist Verity Bargate Award); The Onion Game (winner BBC Writersroom open submissions competition); The Cobbler (Katherine Cornell Award), and the feature film LIV (currently in post-production). He has recently been appointed to teach Advanced Playwriting at University of Pennsylvania.

Matthew Maguire
Matthew Maguire plays include Instinct, Phaedra, Abandon, and the creation with Philip Glass and Molissa Fenley of A Descent Into the Maelström for Australia's Adelaide Festival. His most recently published book (NoPassport Press) is Matthew Maguire: Three Plays. He is the Director of the Theatre Program at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, and an alumnus of New Dramatists. MFA, NYU. His awards include an OBIE for Acting and an OBIE for Directing.

Sydné Mahone
Sydné Mahone is an independent dramaturg and the editor of two books: Moon Marked and Touched By Sun: Plays By African American Women; and With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together. She is Director of Cultural Engagement, Mary Lou and Arthur F. Mahone Foundation. Former Director of Play Development at Crossroads Theatre, credits include new works by August Wilson, Rita Dove, Ntozake Shange, and George C. Wolfe. Teaching: University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Dartmouth College and NYU. Editorial board member of the LMDA Review.

Lisa Rothe
Lisa Rothe is the Director of Global Exchange at the Lark Play Development Center in NYC. As a director, she has developed and directed hundreds of new plays, and was recently nominated for SDC's Joe A. Callaway Award for Direction for the Drama Desk nominated production of Hold These Truths. Lisa is on the faculty of ESPA, the school of Primary Stages and is currently on the board of the League of Professional Theatre Women.


For more than two decades, Theatre Arts has presented an annual festival centered on producing, reading, and discussing new scripts from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. The Workshop was formally organized in the fall of 1971, although a strong tradition of playwriting has existed at Iowa since the 1920s when the department was under the leadership of E.C. Mabie. From 1923 until his death in 1956, Mabie was strongly dedicated to the writing and production of original plays. The Workshop was one of the first programs established to concentrate solely on playwriting and is one of the most production oriented playwriting programs in the country.

The New Play Festival is presented during the last week of spring term classes. Four to five plays by MFA playwrights are selected for full productions, most of them directed by MFA directing students and faculty members. Readings of full plays written by the other MFA writers are also presented during the week, as is a selection of work by undergraduate playwrights. Classes in the department are cancelled for the week so everyone may participate. Professional playwrights, directors, and producers from around the country are in residence to see and discuss all aspects of the work.

Many of the plays premiered during the Festival have gone on to win prestigious awards and have productions at professional theatres throughout this country and abroad. Preparing five new plays and presenting them in a single week is a monumental undertaking that is only possible by the utilization of the department’s wide-ranging resources in acting, directing, design, dramaturgy, stage management, and technical support. The development of new work through production continues to be a fundamental emphasis of the entire department.

Iowa New Play Festival 2014 guests included Elissa Adams, Keith Josef Adkins, Len Berkman, and Amy Rose Marsh. These guests came to Iowa City and responded to the following productions, workshops, and readings.

Four Stories by Micah Ariel James
and i will hold you/when you are broken by Lisa Flora Meyers
Swordplay by Ryan Oliveira
Speed of Light by Bella Poynton
Life of the Experiment by Sarah Cho
Phoebe by Sean David DeMers
#julys by Sam Lahne
Still Quiet by Emily Dendinger
Falls for Jodie by Eric Holmes
Suit of Leaves by Sam Collier
Order Now by Theresa Giacopasi


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