2017 21st Century Voices

American Stage New Play Festival

Click here for this year’s New Play Festival details!

3 Days | 4 Plays | Live Staged Readings

American Stage is proud to launch our commitment to 21st Century Voices with a New Play Festival featuring live staged readings of four new plays from four exceptional up-and-coming playwrights from Tampa Bay and beyond.

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 all over the United States. 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 playwrights and Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte following each play reading.

Individual Tickets: $10 per reading
All-Access Pass: $30 General Public | $20 American Stage Subscribers & Act 1 Club Members

Sponsored by Rebecca & Michael Alford and Susan & Pete Greenbaum

FLYING by Sheila Cowley – Thursday, March 02 | 8PM
RISE OF THE PRICKLY PEAR by Radha S. Menon – Friday, March 03 | 8PM
STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR by Andrea Lepcio – Saturday, March 04 | 12PM
PRUDENCE by Stefan Lanfer – Saturday, March 04 | 4PM

March 02 – March 04, 2017

By Sheila Cowley

The background of Flying is drawn from oral histories and memoirs of women who flew military planes in WWII so men could go and fight. It’s set after the women in the WASP program were sent home to get back to normal.

Flying looks at life propelled by stories, and the daily acts of heroism that never earn a medal.

About the Playwright

Sheila Cowley is a playwright and audio producer. Her plays have been developed in Chicago, New York, London and Florida. There have been productions of her work from New York and Texas to Ohio, Illinois, California and South Korea. Last year her play Rewrite was chosen for the Association of Theatre in Higher Education’s New Play Development Workshop, and her Fantastic Ekphrastic piece based on a painting by Lance Rodgers and performed by Becca McCoy, won the Audience Award for Best Creative Collaboration. She’s currently developing The Burlesque Astronomy Play, scheduled for a reading at Chicago Dramatists in March.

Sheila organized the Synesthesia chain-reaction performance at The Studio@620 of art inspiring other artforms, featured in The Dramatist Guild’s national magazine. Her essay, How to Develop Plays with Movement, Sound and Silence, is published on the website of Directors Lab Chicago.

Flying was a semi‐finalist in the 2016 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and 2016 Ashland New Plays Festival. The play will receive its Equity premiere in upstate New York this summer, and be featured in a festival of new plays in Chicago.


Rise of the Prickly Pear
By Radha S. Menon

Rise Of The Prickly Pear is about love and betrayal, set in 1958 Santiago De Cuba and 1980 Miami. Che Guevara and his ‘bearded ones’ are holed up in the Sierra Maestra fighting a bitter battle as revolution grips the nation in a dire struggle against American imperialism, while two local women battle each other and bust up over love.

Twenty years later these women reunite in Miami and must face each other and get to grips with the past.This play arose from curiosity and bloomed into an exploration of the illusive nature of beauty and a study into humanity’s ingenious knack of reinvention after betrayal has obliterated one’s status quo.

About the Playwright

Radja S. Menon: Award-winning playwright and animal-fanatic, Menon was a working actor in British Theatre and television. She moved to Canada and learned how to make films; but returned to her theatrical roots to explore the use of heightened language. In addition, Menon is an awardwinning art director for indie and art house films and an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at University of Guelph. Her play Ganga’s Ganja, finalist of Herman Voaden Playwriting contest 2013 opens at Storefront Theatre, Toronto in April 2018.

Strait of Gibraltar
By Andrea Lepcio

Miriam and Zameer meet at a party, and it’s love at first sight. By the next day, they’ve learned just how little they have in common, and just how little that matters. When Zameer tells Miriam that he’s been living in the U.S. illegally, she offers to help – but that turns out to be more complicated and more dangerous than she imagined.

Strait of Gibraltar is a new play that examines the impact of the United States Patriot Act on civil rights. The two are arrested when Zameer is suspected of terrorism and Miriam of money laundering. In the end, it is proven that Zameer is not a terrorist; he is deported. Although it is proven she didn’t launder money for Zameer, an idle comment by her mother results in Miriam being implicated in other money laundering schemes at her bank. In the end, it isn’t this foreign man who has gotten her into trouble but the bank and her own mother. She fights for her freedom as Zameer makes a new life in the Atlas Mountains waiting for her. At the end of the play, Miriam promises to go to him once she is free

About the Playwright

Andrea Lepcio is best known for Looking for the Pony, a finalist for the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and for the NEA Outstanding New American Play Award.  It was presented in a “Rolling World Premiere” Off-Broadway at Vital Theatre Company in New York and Synchronicity Performance Group in Atlanta and subsequent productions.  Recent productions include Tunnel Vision at Off the Wall in Pittsburgh, Dinner at Home between Deaths at Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles and The Gold at New York Musical Festival. She is currently working on a EST/Sloan commissioned play about climate change and a new musical Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am with songwriter Tina DeVaron.  Additional Plays and musicals under development include World Avoided (EST/Sloan Commission), Strait of Gibraltar (Geva Theatre Center and upcoming at Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta), Central Avenue Breakdown (FwdTheatre) and Lf&Tms (Music Theatre Factory).   Andrea is a member of the Dramatists Guild, was a Dramatists Guild Fellow and served as the Dramatists Guild Fellows Program Director for ten years. M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing, Carnegie Mellon University.  B.A. Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic. She lives in Maine,which means she travels often.

By Stefen Lanfer
In 1833, to further their education, two dozen African American girls arrived in a small New England town from across the free states. They were insulted, assaulted, and (under repressive new laws) risked fines and public whippings if they refused to leave. Their teacher, Prudence Crandall, a white Quaker woman, was jailed, and the ensuing trials nearly forced the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether nonwhites were citizens – until, as the girls hid upstairs, a mob destroyed their school with lead pipes. Weaving together past and present, Prudence traces these events through the eyes of young women visiting today’s Prudence Crandall Museum, as they, like their 19th century counterparts, grapple with how to claim America’s promise, in the face of powerful men with a different view of what makes our nation great.

About the Playwright

Stefan Lanfer’s plays include Hadron Collision Therapy (Boston Theatre Marathon, FRESH PRODUCE’d), Helicopter Parents for Hire (Vermont Playwrights Circle, Artists’ Exchange), Cry, The Beloved Country (Book-It Repertory), Gary Grinkle’s Battles with Wrinkles (Long Wharf, Open Eye, published by Dramatic Publishing), and Christmas in the Valley (Playhouse Merced). Lanfer has worked in artistic management at Long Wharf Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre. In his current day job, he leads communications at the Barr Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in New England. A member of the Dramatists Guild, Lanfer is a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow in Dramatic Writing.