Iowa New Play Festival 2023 May 1-6

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). The 2023 Iowa New Play Festival will be presented in the Theatre Building and will include four full productions and daily readings. All readings and productions will take place during the first week of May. 

Funding for the Iowa New Play Festival is provided by The David and Jean Schaal Fund for Theatre Arts.

Link to the Daily Iowan Article about NPF '22

2023 Schedule of Events

2023 Iowa New Play Festival Schedule

2023 Productions

Lil G: A Gatsby Remix
By Isaiah Reaves
Directed by Caroline Clay

In this contemporary reimagining of The Great Gatsby, a rapper named Lil G gathers a group of rappers and influencers on the dance floor in 2023 New Orleans and searches for his true love. Meanwhile, a hurricane is soon to touch down outside. Will privilege distract these celebrities from impending disaster? Were they ever privileged to begin with?

Please be advised this play contains violence, sexual themes, haze, strobe, strong language, blackfishing, and loud music.

By Amanda Keating
Directed by Ann Kreitman

BOOTH follows a trio of high school stage managers as they come and go from their auditorium tech booth. As Jillian preps for rehearsal, Carl designs the lights, and Kelsey tries to finish her seemingly never-ending AP Chem homework while simultaneously creating prop lists, cue sheets, and the ever-important Stage Manager’s Bible. In the booth they together build a home – a home that is both fleeting and forever, both theirs and not theirs, both a window looking out and a window looking in. This is a play about what it means to make art together – even when nothing in life makes sense – with the help of Joni Mitchell, a bag of vibrators, and a bottle of Cherry Coke.

Please be advised this play contains discussion of sex, masturbation, loss, illness, divorce, and high school theatre.

Fathers and Sons
By Valerie Muensterman
Directed by Meg Mechelke

Recent graduate Arkady Kirsanov returns home to his father’s house in the country. With him is his enigmatic friend, Eugene Bazarov, a nihilist YouTuber. Arkady’s father is shocked to learn his son shares his outlook on life: he rejects art, nature, romanticism of any kind. But practice is messier than theory. The appearance of intelligent Anna Odintsova tests the friends’ convictions. Arkady tries to woo her; however, she takes an interest in Bazarov, who is soon disgusted to realize he has fallen in love.

Please be advised this play contains adult language, depictions of violence and gun violence, and haze. There will be firearms present on stage and there will be two gunshot sound effects played during Act II.

You're Still Here
By Olivia Clement
Directed by Natalie Villamonte Zito

Amber arrives in Iowa City pregnant and ready to begin her new life. But the past keeps showing up in her backyard, and he’s wearing a linen shirt. Maybe burying her father’s ashes will help? A blooming friendship with her next door neighbor Erin may just help unlock something as well.

Please be advised this play contains strobe lights and references to child abuse. There will be also be shrimp present in the theatre.


The Reading Series

By Xiaoyan Kang

Sangya, an aspiring teenage girl in the early-1960s China, sympathizes with her grandmother who stumbled into her fate with a pair of bound feet. Very soon, Sangya finds herself bound in a predicament where she has to make a difficult choice between her academic dream and her father, a counter-revolutionary prisoner at a northwestern labor camp. What is the right choice to make? Or, is there really a choice?

Please be advised this reading contains mention of suicide.

[The Home at 15 Lee St.]
By Christopher Lysik

In 1898, Rosa de Lucia boards a steamship and leaves her native Italy to join her husband in the burgeoning Italian district of Providence, RI— only to find herself an outsider in a city dominated by the Irish and Yankee elites. So... What changes for the De Lucia Family over the next century? Welp, a whole hell of a lot…

Please be advised this reading contains brief moments of racism, both towards and by individuals considered White by today's standards.

Pleasure Play
By Eli Campbell

When Maeve's mother shows up at their place of work, Maeve must decide what they're willing to sacrifice in order to reconnect. Meanwhile, the life they've built with their partner, Gracie, seems to be descending into a fantasy state - and look, there's aliens!

Please be advised this reading contains adult themes, sexual situations, references to domestic abuse, and explicit language

Anti-Hero: Revenge of the Swifties
By Derick Edgren Otero

A fourteen-year-old Taylor Swift stan seeks retribution against a music critic for his scathing review of Taylor's worst-rated album Reputation.

Please be advised this reading contains themes of misogyny.

Pixie Dream
By Alex Lead

Meagan's toxic relationships – Oh that rich girl. Yeah. No that's the other one. Yeah her. Meagan's toxic relationships with her male relatives come to a head as she approaches graduation, resulting in life-changing revelations and an outrageous contest.

Please be advised this reading contains strong language, adult themes, and references to child abuse.

Selections from the Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop
By Undergraduate Playwrights

Selections from the Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop will feature readings of short plays and excerpts of full-length plays.

Homecoming (A Play)
By Cheta Igbokwe
Directed by Steven Willis

Homecoming chronicles the life of Nwakibe, a retired head teacher and catechist, who embarks on a mission to find his missing son. It also follows Johnson, a writer, in search of a story for his new book. It is a story of quest, love, discovery, and how what one finds in life is capable of slipping through one's hands.


Tickets for the Iowa New Play Festival will be available at the Theatre Building. Visit our ticketing page for more details.

2023 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.

The 2023 festival guests are Lynde Rosario, Catherine Filloux, Nambi E. Kelley, and Emmanuel Wilson.

Lynde Rosario (she/her/hers) is a Dramaturg and the Director of Fellowship Programs at Playwrights’ Center. She is also the Impact Assessment Director for National New Play Network and President of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. Current and former affiliations include: The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, The Playwrights Realm, Working Theater Company, Curious Theatre Company, Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company, The Catamounts, Local Theater Company, Creede Repertory Theater, Athena Project, Letter of Marque Theater Company, and The Anthropologists. She holds a B.A. in Drama from Hofstra University, and a M.F.A. in Dramaturgy from The American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University.

Catherine Filloux is an award-winning French American playwright and librettist who has been writing about human rights for many decades. Filloux’s play “How to Eat an Orange” was commissioned by INTAR, with its premiere next season at La MaMa in New York City. “White Savior” is nominated for The Venturous Play List. Her plays have been produced around the U.S. and internationally. Catherine is the librettist for four produced operas; “Orlando” premiered at the Vienna State Opera and is a Grawemeyer Award winner. Filloux’s new musical “Welcome to the Big Dipper” is a National Alliance for Musical Theatre finalist. Catherine has traveled for her plays to Bosnia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Sudan and South Sudan. Filloux received her French Baccalaureate in Philosophy with Honors in Toulon, France, and is the co-founder of Theatre Without Borders. 

Nambi E. Kelley, award-winning playwright/actress, was a 2020-21 resident at New Victory Theatre through the LabWorks Program for BIPOC artists in New York City. She was chosen by Toni Morrison to adapt her novel JAZZ. Her adaptation of Richard Wright’s NATIVE SON which had its world premiere at Court Theatre has been seen across the country and premiered off-Broadway in 2019 at The Duke on 42nd Street (The Acting Company; AUDELCO Award for “Best Play”). She is currently developing multiple commercial theatre projects, and is a former playwright-in-residence at the National Black Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, and The Dramatists Guild Fellows Program. She is the recipient of the 2020 NNPN annual commission, the Prince Prize 2019, and a Dramatists Guild Foundation Writers Alliance Grant 2018-19. Nambi's newly formed production company, First Woman Inc, recently produced a digital and national tour of Nambi's young audiences' play, JABARI DREAMS OF FREEDOM, directed by Daniel Carlton. Nambi served as a writer on Showtime’s The Chi, Our Kind of People (Fox), Bel Air (Peacock), and will serve as story editor on an Apple Plus show, TBA. She is also in development with several other film and TV projects.

Emmanuel Wilson joined the staff of the Dramatists Guild in 2017 and current serves as Co-Executive Director. He manages member service and programming for America’s professional playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. Emmanuel also oversees the Guild’s industry outreach, strategy, and communications. He is the proud parent of Faith and Imani Wilson.

A playwright, producer, and lifelong resident of New York City, Emmanuel founded The Blue Rose Stage Company at age 18, serving as its artistic director for six years. At TADA! Youth Theater, Emmanuel served as artistic associate and literary manager, commissioning and supporting new works from writers including Stephen Schwartz, Lisa Diana Shapiro, and Eric Rockwell. While at TADA, Emmanuel assisted in organizational and season planning, and produced a playwriting contest and reading series for teens. In 2003, he was selected as a New Generations Future Leader by Theater Communications Group. This multi-year fellowship, designed to "cultivate and strengthen a new generation of future theatre leadership" was supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


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 2022 guests included Noel Allain, John Baker, Katie Gamelli, Virginia Grise, and Sydné Mahone. The guests responded to the following productions and readings.

And Then written and directed by Jarek Pastor
IT'S LIKE RIDING A BIKE by Jeremy Geragotelis
Stars and Stones by Emma Silverman
Basically Children by Charlie O'Leary
I feel closest to you by Olivia Clement
I Shall Not Be Moved by Isaiah Reaves
Man of My Dreams written and directed by Valerie Muensterman
Berrigan, or an Island tale by Christopher Lysik
Selections from the Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop by Undergraduate Playwrights
the fog comes on little cat feet by Amanda Keating
Mother: Knife by Derick Edgren Otero

Iowa New Play Festival 2021 was held virtually. Guests included Beth Blickers, Kia Corthron, Cat Filloux, Martine Kei Green-Rogers, Lynde Rosario, and Cori Thomas. The guests responded to following productions and readings.

The Job by Ikram Basra
Blue Whale Variations by Dakota Parobek
Wild, Wonderful by SP O’Brien
Doctor Vysarius by Steven Glavey, music by Jeremy Geragotelis
Gwenevere by Isaiah Reaves
Year of Revue by the Year of Revue team
The Switch by Charlie O’Leary
Still Life by Valerie Muensterman
The arrogance of it by Olivia Clement
Just Above Hades by Emma Silverman
Pins and Needles, or The Circumstance of Falling Forever on Ash Wednesday, 1988 by Jeremy Geragotelis

Iowa New Play Festival 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa New Play Festival 2019 guests included Elissa Adams, Noel Allain, Len Berkman, Christine Scarfuto, Amy Wegener, and Connie Winston. These guests came to Iowa City and responded to the following productions, workshop, and readings.

2PM in Faith, Nebraska by K.T. Peterson
Bell at the Back of Her Throat by Courtney Meaker
Blackberry: A Burial by Eric Marlin
P o l a r i s (a tragedy expansion pack) by Charles Green
Inferno of Eye Candy by Leigh M. Marshall
I Can Help You by SP O'Brien
We All Were Sunflowers by Ikram Basra
Smile Medicine by Dakota Parobek
Park Slope Under Water by Aja Nisenson
Perils of the Flowerbed by Steven Glavey

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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