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 2018 will take place April 30-May 5.

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

2018 Schedule of Events

View the full schedule of events for 2018 here!

2018 Productions

By Marisela Treviño Orta
Directed by Erica Vannon

By Margot Connolly
Directed by Lila Rachel Becker

The Age of Innocence
By Nina Morrison
Directed by Sarah Lacy Hamilton

A Kingdom Jack'd
By Scott Bradley
Directed by Luke Daniel White


I am Pretty Bird
by Leigh M. Marshall
Directed by Bo Frazier

The Reading Series

The Wait
Written and Directed by Aja Nisenson

Readings from the Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop
By Undergraduate Playwrights

You Must Wear a Hat
By Courtney Meaker
Directed by Morgan Grambo

Hear, Israel!
By Charles Green
Directed by Bries Vannon

and come apart
By Eric Marlin
Directed by Bries Vannon

Richmond Park
By K.T. Peterson
Directed by Meredith Alexander

Kant in Vegas
By Leigh M. Marshall
Directed by Eric Marlin

Moon Dust
By Alysha Oravetz
Directed by Alex Ghere

2018 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.

At Smith College for 49 years, the Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Theatre Professor Len Berkman has helped over 600 plays/productions develop at Sundance, South Coast Rep, Mark Taper Forum, Epic Theatre Ensemble, WordBRIDGE, and NY Stage & Film. His former students include: 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 (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. His essays appear in Theatre in Crisis?, The Dionysian, Modern Drama, Massachusetts Review, The Prairie Schooner, HowlRound, and Parnassus; in The Suzan-Lori Parks Casebook, Conducting a Life: Reflections on the Theatre of Maria-Irene Fornes, and Upstaging Big Daddy: Directing Theater as if Gender and Race Matter. Len’s latest play, We Three/ Wir Drei, has been translated into German. A Yale MFA and DFA grad, Len’s been countless times an NEA and performance-training program consultant, a recurrent U. Hamburg Guest-Professor, and twice awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant.

Bryan 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 U.K., and the U.S.A. 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 King’s Cross New Writing Award; winner BBC Writersroom open submissions competition); The Cobbler (Katherine Cornell Award); and the feature film The Sounding (winner of multiple jury and audience best feature awards and festival grand prizes on the U.S. festival circuit). He teaches playwriting, screenwriting, and writing for TV at Harvard Summer School, Harvard Extension School, and on the Fordham University/Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting.

Julie Felise Dubiner is the Associate Director of American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. From 2004-2010, Julie was the Resident Dramaturg at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Prior to Louisville, she was in Philadelphia as Project Manager of The Rosenbach Company and Dramaturg at the Prince Music Theater. Before that, in Chicago she freelanced for Defiant, blue star, Steppenwolf, and others. Julie holds degrees from Tufts and Columbia and has taught at University of Evansville, Walden Theatre, University of the Arts, the Philadelphia public schools, and Chicago Dramatists. Julie has been a guest dramaturg at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the New Harmony Project, the Kennedy Center/KCACTF, and elsewhere. She is a co-editor of a couple of volumes of Humana Festival anthologies and a co-author of The Process of Dramaturgy. She is a Board Member of LMDA and is the lead mentor for the Early Career Dramaturgs.

Tanya Palmer is the Producer/Director of New Play Development. For the Goodman, she coordinates New Stages, the theater’s new play program, and has served as the production dramaturg on a number of plays including the world premieres of 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, adapted by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley; SMOKEFALL by Noah Haidle, THE HAPPIEST SONG PLAYS LAST by Quiara Hudes; and the Pulitzer Prize–winning RUINED by Lynn Nottage. She has also worked as a freelance dramaturg around Chicago on world premieres at A Red Orchid Theatre, Rivendell Theatre Company, and Timeline Theatre, is an Artistic Associate of Pivot Arts, and an adjunct professor at the Theatre School at DePaul. Prior to her arrival in Chicago, she served as the director of new play development at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she led the reading and selection process for the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, she holds an MFA in playwriting from York University in Toronto.

Plays include: LOCKDOWN; Citizen’s Market; When January Feels Like Summer; THE LIBERIAN LEGACY PLAYS: Pa’s Hat, Flight 109, In The Beginning; The Ballad of Ella May; My Secret Language of Wishes; The Princess, The Breast, and, The Lizard; The Unusual Love Life of Bedbugs and Other Creatures; Waking Up; His Daddy; and more… New Dramatists Resident; MacDowell, Bogliasco Foundation; American Playwrights Project (Italy); Baryshnikov Arts Center; Sundance Theatre Lab; ATCA Osborn Award for Best New Play; Edgerton New Play Award; Theodore Ward Prize; Lippman Family Travel Prize; Other works include: Audible.com series The Walls; “The Mic Sessions Play” director and co-writer with Lonnie Morris to be performed at San Quentin Penitentiary; Untitled original screenplay about Nelson Mandela and Percy Yutar (HBO Films). Dramatic Publishing-When January Feels Like Summer. Co-Founder: www.pashatfoundation.org.


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 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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