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New Voices for the Theater


New Voices finalists and winners have been announced.  The finalists were selected by the New Voices for the Theater Script Committee after a very thorough evaluation process and each playwright was given individualized feedback on their play. The eight winning playwrights were handpicked by the Playwright-in-Residence, Jayne Deely, to participate in a weeklong playwriting intensive workshop. Four of the plays will be produced as virtual readings and will be available to view on our website in August 2022. 



The Echos of Phantasm by Cailee Nichols
Trials of Reign by Amelia Garcia
I’m Trying. Just Listen by Tia Tucker
Traitor by Marissa Kelley
The Third Wish by Madison Hill
Crystal Clear by Hayden Ashworth
Legendary by Caroline Guyre
As They Are by Mansha Nain


It’s Just Modern by Hannah Nicaisse
Game Day by Braden Coykendall
Writer’s Block by Gracie Carter
Troublemakers by Nabheea Mohammed
The Everlasting Love of Abba by Emily Major
The Echos of Phantasm by Cailee Nichols
I’m Trying. Just Listen by Tia Tucker
Traitor by Marissa Kelley
The Third Wish by Madison Hill
Crystal Clear by Hayden Ashworth
Legendary by Caroline Guyre
As They Are by Mansha Nain

Marissa Kelley - TRAITOR

Makenna navigates the aftermath of being sexually assaulted. All aspects of assault are shown including the suspect’s perspective, the children’s parents’ perspectives, and even that of her classmates and teachers. In the end, Makenna is shown succumbing to her hardships through literature and finally sharing her story to the world. 

Cast of Characters 

MAKENNA: Age 14, in a relationship with Jayden. JAYDEN: Age 15, in a relationship with Makenna and a mama’s boy.
JAYDEN’S MOM: Age 45, Jayden’s mother.
MAKENNA’S MOM/STUDENT 1: Makenna’s mother. Student: Makenna’s closest friend.  Probably just there for the tea.
COUNSELOR 1/STUDENT 2: Basic counselor.
MS BOLTON/STUDENT 3: A supportive, almost parental figure to Makenna.
TEACHER 2/COUNSELOR 2/VOICE/STUDENT 4: Classic theater teacher. “Voice” refers to office staff on an intercom. 

Cailee Nichols - The Echo of a Phantasm

The Echo of a Phantasm

Aiya has been May’s, her mother, caretaker for eight years after her other mother, Rory, died. She has now made the hard decision to take her mother to an extended living home. This play spans for the day that Aiya and May pack her home to help moving out, but along the way, May goes through a series of episodes remembering why she chose to stay in her house for so long.

Cast of Characters  

RORY: A woman throughout a 30 year span. A woman that is scared to leave without May, but is really good at pretending. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, due to their low income, they cannot properly take care of her. Deeply proud of her daughter.
 MAY (Old): A woman in her 80s who has spent her time waiting and deeply in love with her wife. A realist, but still hopeful. Tends to be hard headed and very honest. Has an estranged relationship with her daughter Aiya. Works at a grocery store.
MAY (Young): A woman throughout a 30 year span. Only really here to show passage of time. Same character as May.
Aiya: A woman in her late 20s/ May’s full time nurse. A lot more similar to May than she wants to admit, has spent her time compensating. 

Tia Tucker - I’m Trying. Just Listen.

I’m Trying. Just Listen. is a one act play about a mother, Danez, and daughter, Yani, whose relationship is tested due to differing political beliefs. Both struggle to understand each other in finding a middle ground. They argue at the dinner table, desperate for the other to get their point of view. Both come to find that love generates acceptance and patience of one another. 

Cast of Characters 

YANI: Black woman (17 years old). Oldest of all the siblings. She’s sharp, fierce, and her words can bite. However, she is very loving and compassionate. Super prideful and sensitive. Not afraid to test her mother.
DANEZ: Black woman (40-50 years old). She is loud and bold. She is the mother. Everyone, even Yani to a certain degree, is scared of her. Intimidating as she may be, she’s still very warm and playful. Everyone yearns for her affection. She’s a little ignorant in terms of progressive ideals, but she’s open to understanding. She’s patient, but has a temper.
RIO: Nonwhite, preferably black. Male (15-17 years old). Yani’s right hand man. He’s attentive. Very organized and orderly. Tries to help his mom out in any way he can but isn’t a suck up. Witty and funny. Most mature of the 4 siblings.
ACE: Any race, preferably nonwhite. Male (13-15 years old). Wild and rambunctious.Very athletic and sporty. Your stereotypical obnoxious jock. A bit of a hot head and enjoys picking on brothers. Very loud.
A’SIER: Any race, preferably nonwhite. Any sex (7-10 years old). Super nerdy and a bit of a suck.  Addicted to their Nintendo switch. Very animated and overdramatic.
ALIATA: Nonwhite, preferably black. Male (40-50 years old). Dad of the household. Super religious. He’s present and children respect him, but the mother kind of takes the lead. He’s a bit rigid and tense. He has a soft spot for his wife, Danez, and Yani 



New Voices is looking for Student Actors for the Festival of New Works June 26 – July 2. All actors ages 12 to 24 are encouraged to submit. All rehearsals and performances will be over Zoom and students will have the opportunity to work with a professional Theatre Director. Complete an application and submit a Contemporary 1-minute monologue by May 16, 2022.  Click here submit.



Students interested in learning more about stage management can cut their teeth by stage managing one of the student-written pieces for the New Voices for the Theater Festival of New Works. All rehearsals and performances will be over Zoom and students will be mentored by the program’s Lead Stage Manager. New Voices runs June 26-July 2. Students interested in both Spamalot and New Voices may participate in both.



New Voices for the Theater is a statewide playwriting competition that provides an opportunity for students, selected out of hundreds of applicants from across the Commonwealth, to bring their original one-act plays to life on the stage for the public each summer at the Festival of New Works.

Watch the video to learn more about New Voices for the Theater!

How It Works

New Voices for the Theater is a statewide playwriting competition that provides an opportunity for Virginia high school students to further develop their submitted one-act plays in collaboration with theater professionals and their peers during a two-week virtual residency, June 21 – July 2, 2022.  In 2022, the program will take place 100% virtually.

The residence is an intensive experience geared towards enhancing and developing the writing talents of the chosen playwrights.  The young playwrights will receive one-on-one writing mentorship from a nationally renowned professional playwright-in-residence and have the chance to participate in a virtual writing room with other participants.  Once plays move into rehearsal, the young playwrights will learn how to collaborate with a director and actors to bring their vision to life in the online culminating event, the Festival of New Works.

Major funding for New Voices for the Theater is provided by:


Additional Support Provided By:

Altria, Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Dominion Energy Foundation,
the R.E.B. Foundation, Robins Foundation, and Holly Rice & Vince Gilligan

All SPARC programs are made possible in part by: 

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Email us at sparc@sparcrichmond.org or call 804.353.3393.