American Stage’s 21st Century Voices: Emerging Plays
Submissions for 2021’s festival have now closed. Please stay tuned for more information about submitting to the 2022 festival.
American Stage is committed to producing powerful and relevant professional live theatre. Our 21st Century Voices is an initiative dedicated to developing and presenting new works for the stage that speak to a contemporary audience in fresh and compelling ways. 21st Century Voices programming includes an annual staged reading festival, workshopping of new scripts, playwriting residencies and fully produced new plays receiving one of their first three professional productions at American Stage.
Proud to be supported by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Hannah Peters of Smart Move Moving & Storage, and the Love IV Lawrence Foundation. American Stage is honored to have received a competitive grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay so that we may shine a spotlight on the de-stigmatization of mental illness through our 21st Century Voices: 2021 New Play Festival.
21st Century Voices: New Play Festival Submissions
This year, we are seeking submissions of new plays exploring themes of mental illness, wellness and resilience. Plays on these themes should examine characters grappling with, learning about or advancing in their own mental health or the mental health of someone they love. Our intention is to shine a spotlight on mental health and to contribute to the destigmatization of mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), almost half of all American adults (46.4%) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. Mental Health America reports that anxiety and depression is up by nearly 400% since January 2020. With the social isolation due to COVID, the need for connection to mental health resources as well as the need for compassion and education around mental health are greater than ever.
American Stage is interested in probing the individual experience as well as society’s perception of wellness and the mental health industry. We are also interested in plays that can be performed flexibly since the festival will potentially be offered as hybrid performances, with both onsite and virtual readings. The festival may also include panels and workshops on mental health, presented by experts in the field. Submissions will be accepted now through October 16, 2020.
Submission guidelines for the American Stage’s 21st Century Voices: 2021 New Play Festival are as follows:
- Plays must be full-length in any genre: comedy, drama, multimedia, etc. Musicals will not be accepted at this time.
- Translations, collections of one-acts, children’s plays and any play that has received more than two full-scale, professional productions prior to submission are not eligible.
- Plays that have had workshops, readings or non-professional productions are still eligible.
- Plays with casts larger than 8 people will not be considered at this time.
- Only one submission per playwright is allowed each year.
- Plays with flexibility for performance in a digital and in-person setting are preferred.
The Selection Process
American Stage’s competitive selection process consists of two rounds of selection. All 10-page play excerpts submitted during the first round are reviewed by a committee of theatre artists and arts advocates. In the second round, selected playwrights are asked to provide a full manuscript of their play for consideration by the committee. Finally, American Stage invites up to five playwrights to have their work included in 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival in January 2021.
Playwrights invited to participate in our 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival will receive a $250 stipend.
How to Apply
Email your complete submission package to 21stCenturyVoices@americanstage.org by October 16, 2020. Please include the following information in one attached PDF file, not in the body of your email. Please do not attach multiple files. Complete submission packages must include:
- Your contact information;
- Your playwriting resume;
- Title of the play; Character breakdown and description (please include total number of characters); Time and place of the play; Synopsis (no longer than 1 page); and a concise paragraph (no longer than 1 page) describing the development history of the play you are submitting;
- A statement describing why your play is a good fit for American Stage’s 21st Century Voices’ mission to develop and present powerful plays that speak to a contemporary audience in a fresh and compelling way and our 2021 focus on works exploring themes of mental illness, wellness and resilience
- A ten page sample of the play.
Full manuscripts and incomplete submission packages will not be considered.
For consideration in our 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival, American Stage is accepting submissions by October 16, 2020. Requests for full manuscripts will be made by November 9, 2020.
Only completed submission packages emailed to 21stCenturyVoices@americanstage.org by October 16, 2020 at midnight EST will be considered.
Thank you for your interest!
21st Century Voices Past Festivals
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
RISE OF THE PRICKLY PEAR by Radha S. Menon
PRUDENCE by Stefan Lanfer
21st Century Voices: New Play Festival 2018
LENI AND JOSEPH by Jacob Marx Rice
IF NOW WERE HENCE by Tess Light
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
SHRUTI GUPTA CAN TOTALLY DEAL by J.Stephen Brantley
THE FLORA AND FAUNA by Alyson Mead
THE DIARY OF ANNIE MAE FRANKLIN by Crystal V. Rhodes
THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS by Playwright-In-Residence Natalie Symons
21st Century Voices: New Play Festival 2020
STRANGE COURTESIES by L. Peter Callender
THE IMPOSSIBLE ESCAPE OF DON MISTERIOSO by Hal Borden
YOU TOO? By Taylor Leigh Lamb
MLM IS FOR MURDER (OR, YOUR SIDE HUSTLE IS KILLING US) by John Bavoso
PREDICTOR by Jennifer Blackmer
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 samuelfrench.com/playwrightswelcome.