Iowa 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.

IOWA NEW PLAY FESTIVAL 2020 HAS BEEN CANCELED. You will find information about last year's Festival below.

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

2019 Schedule of Events

View the full schedule of events for 2019 here!

2019 Productions

2PM in Faith, Nebraska
By K.T. Peterson
Directed by Lila Rachel Becker

Bell at the Back of Her Throat
By Courtney Meaker
Directed by Bo Frazier

Blackberry: A Burial
By Eric Marlin
Directed by Sarah Lacy Hamilton

P o l a r i s (a tragedy expansion pack)
By Charles Green
Directed by Erica Vannon

The Reading Series

Inferno of Eye Candy
By Leigh M. Marshall
Directed by Luke Daniel White

I Can Help You
By SP O'Brien
Directed by Luke Daniel White

We All Were Sunflowers
By Ikram Basra
Directed by Brad Pickhinke

Smile Medicine
By Dakota Parobek
Directed by Bries Vannon

Park Slope Under Water
By Aja Nisenson
Directed by Nina Morrison

Perils of the Flowerbed
By Steven Glavey
Directed by Courtney Meaker

Undergraduate Playwrights
Readings from the Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop

2019 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.

Elissa Adams is Associate Artistic Director at Theater Latté Da in Minneapolis, and the Producer of Latté Da’s NEXT Festival, which supports the development of new musicals and plays with music. Formerly, she was Director of New Play Development at Children’s Theatre Company, where she commissioned and premiered more than 45 new plays and musicals. Prior positions include Lab Director at The Playwrights’ Center and Literary Manager/Dramaturg at La Jolla Playhouse. She is a frequent artistic advisor/dramaturg at the Sundance Theatre Lab and holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from UC San Diego.

Noel Allain is the Founding Artistic Director of The Bushwick Starr Theater. He is a graduate of Skidmore College and the Juilliard School's Drama Division. As an actor, he has performed in various theater, television, and film productions in and out of New York City. At the Starr, he has programmed artists and companies such as Heather Christian Dave Malloy, Half Straddle, The Debate Society, Daniel Fish, Julia May Jonas, Clare Barron, Ayesha Jordan, The Mad Ones, Phillip Howze, Kate Benson, Erin Markey, David Greenspan, Kristine Haruna Lee, and Diana Oh.  He has developed the Starr’s writing workshop, Creating Performance, in collaboration with El Puente Leadership Acadamy and the after school program, Big Green Theater, with Superhero Clubhouse.  He has served as a panelist for HERE’s HARP Residency, NYSCA, LMCC, and SUNDANCE THEATER LAB, and has appeared as a guest speaker at Colombia, NYU, Bard, Skidmore, and for the Prelude Festival.  

Len Berkman is Smith College's Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Distinguished Professor of Theater, where he has taught for 50-plus years. He has helped more than 600 plays develop at Sundance, South Coast Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, Epic Theatre Ensemble, WordBRIDGE, NY Stage & Film, etc. Past 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, and Dare Clubb. Among plays: Adultery Without Touch; Excuse Me For Even Daring To Open My Mouth; Til The Beatles Reunite; Voila! Rape In Technicolor; Oh The Undoing; Quits; I Won't Go See A Play Called 'A Parent's Worst Nightmare', and These Are Not My Breasts… Holding Yale MFA & DFA degrees, twice a Fulbright Grant recipient, Len returns as Guest Professor to Uni-Hamburg this spring, when his We Three/Wir Drei will receive its first public staging in German.

Christine Scarfuto currently serves as the Literary Manager of Long Wharf Theatre, and is the Curator and Producer for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s summer theater lab HVSF2. Previously, she has worked as the Producing Associate for Premiere Stages, the Producing Director of Strangemen & Co., and the Artistic Producer on the PEN World Voices Festival. She has served as the Literary Associate at Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Literary Fellow at Signature Theatre. She has also worked as a dramaturg with the Playwrights Center, the Lark Play Development Center, Primary Stages, Kennedy Center, Clubbed Thumb, Goodman Theatre, and the Playwrights Realm. She has taught at Fordham, Rutgers, and the University of Iowa, where she received her MFA in Dramaturgy.

Amy Wegener is the literary director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she heads the literary department and coordinates the reading and selection process for the Humana Festival of New American Plays. In eighteen seasons with Actors Theatre and four as literary manager at the Guthrie Theater, she has worked on more than 100 productions and workshops of new plays and classics. Actors Theatre dramaturgy credits include Macbeth, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Luna Gale, as well as Humana Festival premieres by Lucas Hnath, Molly Smith Metzler, Sarah Ruhl, Jordan Harrison, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Deborah Stein, Charles Mee, Erin Courtney, Jerome Hairston, Mac Wellman, Mark Schultz, Courtney Baron, and Lisa Kron, among many others. Wegener has co-edited 19 published collections of plays, and holds degrees from Princeton University and Northwestern University.

Connie Winston's most recent project is American Captives: Lena Baker & Sandra Bland, which premiered at Dixon Place in New York City in the Fall of 2018. American Captives was recently selected by the United Solo Theater Festival and will be performed again in October 2019 in New York. She has performed at venues such as La Mama, H.E.R.E., New Dramatists, the Ohio Theatre, and Soho Rep. Connie received her MFA in dramaturgy from the University of Iowa, MA in performing arts from Emerson College and BA in acting and directing from SUNY/New Paltz. Occasionally, she may be seen on re-runs of Law & Order and Conviction in her recurring role as Judge Shirley Taylor.


Tickets for the Iowa New Play Festival are only available in the Theatre Building.

Festival Box Office Hours:
Monday, April 29 and Tuesday, April 30
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. and one hour prior to each production (or 30 minutes prior to each reading or workshop outside of Room 172)

General Admission: $5.00
UI Students: Free*

All readings are FREE and open to the public, but you must obtain a ticket.

*Students must show a valid University ID and may only receive one free ticket per show.


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 Iowa 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 four or 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 2018 guests included Len Berkman, Bryan Delaney, Julie Felise Dubiner, Tanya Palmer, and Cori Thomas. These guests came to Iowa City and responded to the following productions, workshop, and readings.

Shoe by Marisela Treviño Orta
Lingering by Margot Connolly
The Age of Innocence by Nina Morrison
A Kingdom Jack'd by Scott Bradley
I am Pretty Bird by Leigh M. Marshall
The Wait by Aja Nisenson
You Must Wear a Hat by Courtney Meaker
Hear, Israel! by Charles Green
and come apart by Eric Marlin
Richmond Park by K.T. Peterson
Kant in Vegas by Leigh M. Marshall
Moon Dust by Alysha Oravetz

Iowa New Play Festival 2017 guests included Elissa Adams, Len Berkman, Matthew Maguire, Elsa Menédez, and Jenni Page-White. These guests came to Iowa City and responded to the following productions and readings.

Seed by Scott Bradley
Tough by Margot Connolly
The Pirate Queen by G. Flores
"...among other things..." by Michael Tisdale
Alcira by Marisela Treviño Orta
The Book of Jonah [The Interim Years] by Eric Marlin
Tiny Thin Woman Inside by Courtney Meaker
A Desert Fugue by Charles Green

Iowa New Play Festival 2016 guests included Len Berkman, Jacqueline E. Lawton, Todd Ristau, José Rivera, and Cori Thomas. These guests came to Iowa City and responded to the following productions and readings.

squeeze: A Motel Play by Theresa Giacopasi
Cut & Run by Eric Micha Holmes
Doxxed by Sam Lahne
Great Emergencies by Sean David DeMers
Packing by Scott Bradley
Quiz Out by Margot Connolly
Household or Must be a Duck by Michael Tisdale
Dr. Lovely by Alysha Marie Oravetz
Wolf at the Door by Marisela Treviño Orta
Alcyone by G. Flores

Iowa New Play Festival 2015 guests included Len Berkman, Bryan Delaney, Matthew Maguire, Sydné Mahone, Lisa Rothe. These guests came to Iowa City and responded to the following productions and readings.

Faculty Portrait by Sean David DeMers
Silo Tree by Sam Collier
TRICH by Sarah Cho
Below the Pacific by Ryan Oliveira
Hunting BigFoot by Theresa Giacopasi
Right by Sam Lahne
Binary Star by G. Flores
Boom Boom Town by Alysha Oravetz
Meloman (a music lover) by Michael Tisdale
Cut & Run by Eric Holmes

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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