21st Century Voices

American Stage New Play Festival

Click Here for more information on how to submit to the 2020 New Play Festival

Check out our 21st Century Blog featuring interviews with our 2019 Festival Playwrights!

4 Days | 5 Plays | Live Staged Readings

American Stage is proud to continue our commitment to 21st Century Voices with a New Play Festival featuring live staged readings of five new plays from five exceptional up-and-coming playwrights from all over the United States.

A committee comprised of a diverse cross-section of community members worked with our producing artistic director to read, evaluate and discuss hundreds of new play submissions from Tampa Bay and beyond. The selected works will be featured in staged readings and workshops and will provide audiences the opportunity to contribute to the plays’ development through audience talk-backs with the Creative Team and Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte following each play reading.

Individual Tickets: $10 per reading
All-Access Pass: $40 General Public | $30 American Stage Subscribers & Act 1 Club Members

Festival Schedule:

THE COLONY by Gina Stevensen
Thursday, January 3 | 8pm | Book Now

Friday, January 4 | 8pm | Book Now

Saturday, January 5 | 2pm | Book Now

Saturday, January 5 | 8pm | Book Now

THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS by Playwright in Residence Natalie Symons
Sunday, January 6 | 2pm | Book Now


21st Century Voices: New Play Festival Sponsor: Steven W. Walker

2018-2019 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival Committee

Alexandria Crawford, Ally Thomas, Benjamin Ismail, Bonnie Agan, Colleen Cherry, Courtney McLaren, David Warner, Donovan Whitney, Dylan Renfrow, Elizabeth Brincklow, Jaye Sheldon, Jerid Fox, Jim Sorensen, Kara Goldberg, Kaylie Horowitz, Kody Hopkins, Linda Shanker, Lisa Tricomi, Lori Shannon, Marcia Dobbin, Matthew Acquard, Matthew Conigliaro, Michael Alford, Natalie Symons, Patrick Jackson, Rachel Harrison, Renata Eastlick, Robyn Rusignuolo, Rose Hahn, Sadie Lockhart, Season Wong, Stephanie Gularte, Steven Walker, Taylor McKee, Taylor Sweat, Thomas Vorpahl, Tiffany Faykus, Travis Moore, Vickie Daignault, Willi Rudowsky


January 3-6, 2019

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Click on the tabs below to learn more about each of this year’s play selections and playwrights.

by Gina Stevensen

In 1924 Virginia, a dirt-poor young woman named Carrie Buck is brought to a mysterious medical facility. No one will tell her why she’s here, or where her two-month-old daughter is. All she knows is that her mother lives here – the mother who abandoned her when she was a child. The Doctor in charge is a charming progressive, a student of the new science of heredity and genes. In Carrie, he finds the missing link his entire movement has been searching for, placing her at the center of an unbelievable chain of events that will lead all the way to the Supreme Court. Based on true events, The Colony asks the question: how does our society, past and present, determine the value of its female bodies?

About the Playwright

Gina Stevensen’s plays include THE COLONY (Semifinalist: Austin Film Festival Playwriting Competition, Off-Broadway Reading: Urban Stages, Finalist: The Kennedy Center’s MFA Playwrights Workshop), CRUEL SISTER (Semi-Finalist: O’Neill National Playwrights Conference), KIDS (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and BOOK OF ESTHER (Reading: Hartford Stage, Top Ten Finalist: Jewish Playwriting Contest, Semi-Finalist: Princess Grace Award). Gina is a nominee for the OBIE Award-winning Mentor Project at the Cherry Lane Theatre. She teaches playwriting through Tribeca Performing Arts Center’s Writers in Performance Workshop and The Writer’s Rock. She recently assisted playwright, performer, and activist Eve Ensler on the New York premiere of her solo show IN THE BODY OF THE WORLD at Manhattan Theatre Club. BFA Drama: NYU Tisch. MFA Playwriting: Columbia University. www.ginastevensen.com


by J.Stephen Brantley

Shruti Gupta is a Dreamer, a DACA recipient in her senior year of medical school at CUNY. She lives very efficiently in the apartment above her uncle’s jewelry store on 74th Street in Jackson Heights, and leaves the drama to her brother Raj, the soon-to-be-married prince of the family. But when Irish actor Liam appears in Shruti’s patient communications simulation exam, a cross-cultural romance threatens to upend all her practical plans. As their unlikely relationship blossoms in the late summer of 2017, they find themselves having to navigate cultural traditions, DACA tweets and ICE raids, newly unfettered racism, and what it means to be ‘American’.

About the Playwright

J.Stephen Brantley is a playwright and performer whose work includes Billy Baal, The Emilies, Eightythree Down, Furbelow, The Jamb, and Shruti Gupta Can Totally Deal. Theatre 167’s production of his play Pirira was named Outstanding Premiere Production at the 2014 New York Innovative Theatre Awards before transferring Off-Broadway, and then opening regionally at Luna Stage. Brantley has also written in collaboration with Theatre 167 on The Jackson Heights Trilogy plays and The Church Of Why Not. His acclaimed one-man autobiographical ‘recovery cabaret’ Chicken-Fried Ciccone: A Twangy True Tale Of Transformation, directed by Obie-winner David Drake, played to audiences in New York, Dublin, Provincetown, and East Hampton. He is an eight-time NYIT nominee, a member of the Indie Theatre Hall Of Fame, and recipient of the 2017 Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. More at jstephenbrantley.com

by Alyson Mead

Ginnie and Adele’s friendship was forged under a dark secret. But 28 years later, an inescapable event puts them both in jeopardy again. Can they help each other move on from loss before it’s too late?

About the Playwright

Alyson Mead studied at Yale, the Slade School of Art in London, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and with iO West, UCB and Tectonic Theatre Project. Her plays include THE FLORA AND FAUNA (Princess Grace Award finalist, Henley-Rose Award winner, Bridge Initiative New Work winner, WAM Theatre, Magnolia Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Project Playwright semi-finalist), THE PULSE PROJECT (Steppenwolf, Emerald Theatre, Stage Q), THE QUALITY OF MERCY (Urban Stages Emerging Playwright Award finalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival semi-finalist, Elephant Theatre, Skylight Theatre), THE HONOR SYSTEM (Cimientos/IATI Theater finalist, Manhattan Theatre Works’ Newborn Festival semi-finalist, Pasadena Playhouse), THE FLOWER (Kenneth Branagh Award for New Dramatic Writing finalist, NEWvember New Plays Festival finalist, Rough Writers New Play Fest), and PUNK ROCK MOM(Venus Theatre), among others. Alyson was awarded residencies and fellowships through Ragdale, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, Can Serrat and the Women’s International Study Center, and her work has been developed and commissioned by Kenyon Playwrights Conference, Playwrights Center San Francisco, 360repco, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and the 365 Women a Year Playwriting Project. She’s published by Original Works Publishing, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Ammunition Theatre’s Writing Workshop, the Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Playwriting Unit and the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative.

by Crystal V Rhodes

The Franklin family lives in the small town of Jerome, Arkansas, during World War II where the United States government has imprisoned Japanese Americans in “Relocation Camps”.  Some of the black residents in Jerome helped build the camp, but the people imprisoned there are completely foreign to them. Yet, the racial injustice that has put them there is all too familiar.  

About the Playwright

CRYSTAL V. RHODES is an award-winning playwright and author whose plays have been produced in theatres throughout the United States.  She has written over two dozen plays, two of which were co-written with fellow playwright/author L. Barnett Evans. Rhodes served as the first Playwright in Residence for the Connor Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, Indiana.  Her most recent play, The Diary of Annie Mae Franklin, was selected for placement on the A List of plays to be read at the 2017 National Black Theatre Festival.

Rhodes has been nominated for numerous awards, including The Jefferson Award (Chicago) for Best Original Writing (Stoops), and the Black Theatre Alliance Association Awards (Chicago) for Best Writing of a Play (The Trip).  She is the recipient of the Black Theatre Alliance Association Award (Chicago) for Best Original Writing of a Play Drama or Comedy (Stoops). Her play The Trip has been included in two play anthologies. Her play, Grandmothers, Incorporated, co-written with fellow writer, L. Barnett Evans, enjoyed a successful run Off Broadway, while Stakeout, a second play co-written with Evans, was one of the Top 10 Grossing plays in the 2014 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival.

A prolific writer, Rhodes has received numerous accolades as an author.  Written Word Magazine named Crystal V. Rhodes as one of the Ten Up and Coming Authors in the Midwest. She has written for stage, television, radio, newspapers and magazines. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana she has a Masters degree in Sociology.

by Playwright in Residence Natalie Symons

Set in a hoarder’s nest in the Black Rock neighborhood of Buffalo NY, Miles, an aging funeral home custodian with a taste for whiskey and a taste for laughter, lives with his daughter Mabel, a middle-aged agoraphobic who spends her days writing letters to prison inmates. When a court-appointed guardian threatens to take away their home, their rights, and their stolen poodle, Miles takes action and sets out to find a ‘good guy’ for Mabel. Enter Todd, an inept mortician who lives with his mother and pet hamster Stanley Kowalski. It is a father’s fierce determination not to accept his daughter’s fate that ignites an endearing human comedy about love, loss, loneliness, and the healing power of laughter.

About the Playwright

Natalie Symons is thrilled to be the playwright-in-residence at American Stage for the 18/19 LIFE. OUT LOUD. season. Her plays have been developed and produced in theatres around the country, including ACT Theatre, Aurora Theatre, American Stage, freeFall Theatre, Theater Schmeater, New American Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Bridge Street Theatre, Theatre22, Amas Musical Theatre, New Century Theatre, and Urbanite Theatre.

She’s the author of LARK EDEN, which has won the hearts of Tampa Bay audiences since 2011 and continues to play on stages around the country. THE BUFFALO KINGS premiered at freeFall Theatre in 2015 and received three Broadway World awards including Best Play. NAMING TRUE, which premiered at Urbanite Theatre in 2017, is part of the inaugural plays featured at Ashland New Play Festival’s Play4Keeps.  

Other awards and honors include: Palm Beach Dramaworks Dramaworkshop Prize Winner, ACT & Theatre22 Construction Zone New Play Festival, Bridge Initiative Women in Theatre Playwright of the Year Award Finalist, Hope and Optimism Cornell University and University of Notre Dame Finalist. Natalie is a receipt of the 2018 Creative Pinellas Professional Artist Grant. She is the author of the upcoming novel, LIES IN BONE.

21st Century Voices: New Play Festival 2017

STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR by Andrea Lepcio – Selected for American Stage’s 2017-2018 mainstage season

FLYING by Sheila Cowley


PRUDENCE by Stefan Lanfer


21st Century Voices: New Play Festival 2018

LENI AND JOSEPH by Jacob Marx Rice


POSTLINGUAL by Brooke Downs

GROUP by Alex Rubin

GOOD BAD PEOPLE by Rachel Lynett


21st Century Voices: New Play Festival 2019

THE COLONY by Gina Stevensen




THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS by Playwright-In-Residence Natalie Symons

Playwrights Welcome Logo

Playwrights Welcome
Playwrights Welcome is a new program developed for Dramatists Guild of America Members by Samuel French along with Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing, Music Theatre International, Playscripts and Rodgers and Hammerstein. The goal is simple: to provide free access to theatre for playwrights, composers and lyricists. We are invested in the success and artistic health of our industry’s writers, and by extension the vibrancy of the American theatre. We’re also aware that attending theatre is an integral part to how writers learn their craft and grow as artists.

We are proud to take part in Playwrights Welcome, which offers available tickets to professional playwrights on the day of a performance, free of charge. To receive a ticket through Playwrights Welcome at American Stage, call or come to the box office on the day of the show. You must present your current valid DGA membership card to pick up your ticket, one ticket per member.

For more information on this national program, and to learn which theaters around the country are involved, please visit https://samuelfrench.com/resources/playwrights-welcome.