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New Voices for the Theater


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!

2023 Festival of New Works One-Act Plays

How It Works

New Voices for the Theater is a statewide playwriting competition that provides an opportunity for eight (8) 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, July 15 – July 27, 2024.
SPARC is pleased to offer prize money to the eight playwrights upon completion of the New Voices virtual residency.
The first week of the New Voices virtual workshops are geared towards enhancing and developing the writing talents of the winning playwrights. They will receive one-on-one writing mentorship from a nationally renowned professional playwright and have the chance to participate in a virtual writing room with other participants.

In week two of the virtual residency four of the playwrights will move into production with their plays. The remaining four playwrights will transition into the role of Dramaturg for the plays in production.

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 culminating event, the Festival of New Works.


One Act play submissions are open from December 1, 2023 to January 31, 2024.

Check back soon for a link to the application and submission form.


What is the deadline to submit a one act play?

January 31, 2024

How many plays can I submit?

If you have more than one story to tell, you can submit as many plays as you like! All scripts must be original. Please do not submit adaptations of other authors’ work, film screenplays, or musicals.

Will I receive feedback on my play?

Yes. Each play submission is evaluated by a script committee member, and their written feedback will be shared with the playwright. Please note that scores will not be divulged to the student playwrights.

Can plays with more than one playwright be considered for the festival?

Due to the nature of the virtual residency, co-authored plays are eligible for the festival this year.

When do I find out if I am a finalist?

Finalists are announced in April 2024 and Winners are contacted with an offer to attend the virtual residency in May 2024.

How are the finalists and winners selected?

Each one act play submission is read by members of the New Voices for the Theater Script Committee. Members have expertise in both theatre and creative writing. The scripts are evaluated on a number scale and the highest scoring plays are passed along to the Playwright-in-Residence to select the eight winners.

How are the plays that will be virtually produced selected?

The Playwright-in-Residence will select four plays to be produced and filmed as staged readings on the Zoom platform. The selected plays will be minimal in nature with small cast sizes, limited scene locations, simplistic technical needs, etc.

If my play is selected, will there be a fee to participate?

No fees! SPARC is pleased to offer this virtual residency free to all participants. In fact, winners are awarded prize money for their play.

What does the virtual two-week residency entail?

The first week is concentrated on developing and editing the winning plays with the Playwright-in-Residence’s guidance and mentorship. The second week, student playwrights will be in the rehearsal room with professional directors, student actors, and student stage managers in preparation for the Festival of New Works.

Can you tell me more about the prize money?

There is a $250 prize that is awarded to all eight winning playwrights on completion of the two-week virtual residency. Winners will be awarded $250 prize money and any play with multiple playwrights will split their prize money.

What is the Festival of New Works?

A culmination of the playwrights’ hard work in collaboration with the directors, actors, stage managers, and actors. The 34th Festival of New Works will take place on July 27, 2024 as a hybrid event. The plays will be streamed on the Zoom platform and broadcasted at SPARC in front of a live audience. After each play there will be a talk back with the playwright for audience members to learn more about the playwriting process and the New Voices program.

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.