Photo by Tom Topinka
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 Virginia 8th-12th grade students to further develop their submitted one-act plays in collaboration with theater professionals and their peers.
All playwrights who submit to the program, regardless of their selection status, will receive meaningful feedback from SPARC to support the further development of their plays.
In the spring of 2024 SPARC will still select eight playwrights to participate in the first week of the program (July 15 to 19). This week features virtual playwriting workshops led by a professional playwright as facilitator and mentor. In the virtual workshops students will revise their winning plays, develop new works, and learn about the craft of playwriting.
Upon successful completion of the virtual week-long program, eight playwrights will receive $250 in prize money for their participation.
In week two of the program SPARC brings four playwrights together for a live, shared experience in Richmond, VA hosted by SPARC from July 22 to 27. Here, the chosen playwrights will work side by side in rehearsal with professional theatre directors and actors in preparation for live, in-person staged readings of their winning plays at SPARC’S Sara Belle November Educational Theater.
SPARC will cover the cost of lodging and meals for those playwrights who are selected to participate in this second, in-person week of the program.
One-act play submissions for New Voices 2024 are now closed. Winners will be announced in late spring 2024.
What is the deadline to submit a one act play?
February 14, 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.
When do I find out if I am a finalist?
Finalists are announced in April 2024. Winners are contacted in May 2024 with an offer to attend the 1st week of virtual workshops. At this time the winners will be informed if their play has been selected for in-person 2nd week of program.
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.
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 one-week virtual residency. Winners will be awarded $250 prize money.
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 it look like if I am selected for the virtual one-week workshops?
The first week is concentrated on developing and editing the winning plays with the Playwright-in-Residence’s guidance and mentorship. All workshops will take place virtually.
What does it look like if I am selected for the virtual one-week workshops and the in-person week of rehearsals?
The second week, four student playwrights will relocate to Richmond to participate in the staging of their plays. They will be in the rehearsal room with professional directors, student actors, and student stage managers in preparation for the Festival of New Works.
SPARC will cover the cost of lodging and meals for those playwrights who are selected to participate in this second, in-person week of the program
How are the plays that will be produced at the Festival of New Works selected?
In the spring of 2024 SPARC will select four of the winning playwrights to work side by side in rehearsal with professional theatre directors and actors in preparation for live, in-person staged readings of their winning plays at SPARC’S Sara Belle November Educational Theater.
The selected plays will be minimal in nature with small cast sizes, limited scene locations, simplistic technical needs, etc.
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 at Sara Belle November Educational Theater. 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:
E. RHODES AND LEONA B. CARPENTER FOUNDATION
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: