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

New Play Festival

The first week of May is a special time 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.

2014 Schedule of Events

View the full Schedule of Events for 2014 here!

2014 Productions

Four Stories
by Micah Ariel James
Directed by Nina Morrison

and i will hold you/when you are broken
by Lisa Flora Meyers
Directed by Mario El Caponi Mendoza

by Ryan Oliveira
Directed by Marina Johnson

Speed of Light
by Bella Poynton

Directed by Ariel Francoeur

2014 Workshop

Life of the Experiment
by Sarah Cho
Directed by David Freeman

The David Schaal Reading Series

by Sean David DeMers

by Sam Lahne
Directed by Annie Levitz

Still Quiet
by Emily Dendinger

Falls for Jodie
by Eric Holmes

Suit of Leaves
by Sam Collier
Directed by Nina Morrison

Order Now
by Theresa Giacopasi
Directed by Lesley Geffinger

Readings from the Undergraduate Playwriting Workshop


2014 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.

2014 Festival Guest Biographies

Elissa Adams
Elissa Adams is the Director of New Play Development at The Children’s Theatre Company. Since 1998, she has overseen the commissioning and development of more than thirty new works for young audiences by playwrights including Nilo Cruz, Melissa James Gibson, Lisa D’Amour, and Naomi Iizuka. She is currently working on projects with The Civilians, Taylor Mac, and Phillip Dawkins. Prior to her position at CTC, she served as Literary Manager at La Jolla Playhouse and Director of Playwright Services at The Playwrights’ Center. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from UC San Diego.

Keith Josef Adkins
Keith Josef Adkins’ plays include Pitbulls (Fall 2014 Rattlestick Theater), Safe House (Winter 2015 Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Fall 2014 Cincinnati Playhouse), The Last Saint on Sugar Hill (Fall 2013 National Black Theatre, 2012 MPAACT Theater), The People Before the Park, Sugar Needs, The Final Days of Negro-Ville, among others. Keith’s play, The Last Saint, earned a 2012 Jeff nomination for Best New Work in Chicago. Other awards include A Contemporary Theatre/Hansberry Project Commission, a New Professional Theater Playwright Award, two NYSCA commissions, among others. Keith co-founded The New Black Fest, a festival of plays and discussion from the Diaspora. TNBF recently curated Facing Our Truth: Ten-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilge. Keith has taught graduate playwriting at Columbia University and blogs regularly for HowlRound.

Len Berkman
Smith College's Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Theatre Professor for 45 years, Len 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, & Parnassus; in The Suzan-Lori Parks Casebook, Marie-Irene Fornes: Conducting a Life & Upstaging Big Daddy. A Yale MFA & DFA grad, Len's been an NEA and countless performance-training program evaluator, recurrent U. Hamburg Guest-Professor, and twice awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant.

Amy Rose Marsh
Amy Rose Marsh works as the Literary Manager with Samuel French, Inc. where, over the course of six years, she has helped bring over 500 fantastic new plays to print, including new works by Sarah Ruhl, Athol Fugard, Theresa Rebeck, David Mamet, and Tom Stoppard, among others. Additionally, she also serves as the Artistic Director for the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Manhattan’s oldest continuous short play festival, which is in its 39th year and will be running in August 2014. A fervent advocate of new play production and diversity onstage, she has spoken on panels and led workshops for the Association of Authors and Representatives, the CityWrights Festival, Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, the All-for-One Theatre Festival, TheatreChat, Theatre Geeks, and LEAP onstage. Her writings on theatre appear in [Breaking Character], The Brooklyn Rail, and The New York Post.


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. 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.


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