Festival of New American Plays

In keeping with Firehouse Theatre’s mission of promoting new work, the Festival of New American Plays began in 2002 as a way to encourage and incubate the development of new work by emerging and established playwrights in the USA. It has become a grassroots event with substantial involvement from the community, as hundreds of scripts submitted from all over the country are read by volunteer readers from the Richmond area. Each script is read twice (more if it needs a tiebreaker), and scripts with “two thumbs up” are passed on for further evaluation to an expert panel of judges, who then pick two finalists for a four-night Festival “showdown.” Members of the festival audience who have seen staged readings of both finalists’ work cast a vote for their favorite play, and the winner of the festival is chosen by the public. Festival winners receive cash prizes.

Firehouse has opened submissions for the 13th annual Festival of New American Plays.  Finalists will be announced in April 2015.  More than 120 scripts were submitted this year from nearly every state in the country! Interested in submitting for next year? Download the competition guidelines. Submissions must be postmarked by September 2, 2014.



Previous Festivals:

  • 2014: Playwright Lynne Elson wins the festival with her play A Blessed Unrest. The runner up was playwright Michelle Kholos Brooks for her play Chair.
  • 2013: Playwright Kelly Younger wins the festival with his play This World We Know. The runner up was playwright James Bosley for his play Broad Channel.
  • 2012: Playwright David Rush wins the festival for a second time (previously in 2007) with his play Nureyev’s Eyes. The runner up was playwright Jeffrey Wolf for his play Memories of Lost Time.
  • 2011: Playwright Kristen LePine was the winner of the 2011 festival for her play Foolish Fire. The runner up was playwright Chisa Hutchinson for her play Somebody’s Daughter.
  • 2010: Playwright Gino DiIorio of New York, N.Y. was the winner of the 9th Annual Festival for his play The Jag. The runner up was playwright Mike Folie for his play American Past.
  • 2009: Playwright Evan Guilford-Blake of Atlanta, Ga., was the winner of the 2009 festival for his play An Uncommon LanguageMagnificent Waste by Caridad Svich was the runner up.
  • 2008: Playwright Richard Willett, for his script Tiny Bubbles. Jon Busch’s play Pet Shop Days was the runner up.
  • 2007: Fifth Annual Festival’s surprise ending – a Tie!  Sharing the joint honor of first place were One Fine Day by David Rush from Chicago, Illinois; and Grace by Sharon Sharth of Pasadena, California.
  • 2006: Winner Frawley Becker’s play Tiger by the Tail made the great leap from the Firehouse Stage straight to Off BroadwayTiger by the Tailopened at the Wings Theatre in New York City on March 24th, 2006.
  • 2005Jude Barker won the Third Annual Festival with the play Bourbon St. SpellHarry Ben Hanson’s play On War Cows & the South Dakota Dutch was a close second.
  • 2004Happy. Go. Lucky. by Tania Richard was the winner of the Second Annual Festival. The runner-up was Living Room by P.J. Nix.
  • 2003: The winner of the First Annual Festival was Silent Heroes by Linda Price. The runner-up was Our Family Business by Bo Wilson.

2007 and 2012 winner David Rush won first prize at the 2012 Dayton Playhouse Future Festwith Nureyev’s Eyes, the piece which placed him first in our festival.

2010 runner-up and talented playwright Mike Folie won the Literary Artist category at the 2011 Rockland County Executive Arts Awards and he was recently cited as one of Fifty Playwrights to Watch by Dramatist Guild Magazine. Folie’s plays have been produced throughout the United States, Ireland, England and Germany. Among his works are The Adjustment, and he adapted Naked by the River as a screenplay.

2009 runner-up and talented playwright Caridad Svich is making a name for herself in New York City, having adapted Isabel Allende’s novel of magical realism,The House of the Spirits, for the stage. Directed byJose Zayas, Svich’s play opened in New York City on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 at Repertorio Espanol’s theater, and runs through June.

Yes, Richmond knows talent when she sees it! We predicted it wouldn’t be long before we heard from Svich and winner Evan Guilford-Blake again! Read the full New York Times article, Staging Latin American Magical Realism, Complete With SongsAn Uncommon Language, our 2009 winner, has won its 4th award! It was selected by Colonial Players of Annapolis (MD) as the winner of its promising playwright competition, and will receive a reading there August 21, 2012. An Uncommon Language received a reading by Wordsmyth Theater Company at the Main Street Theatre in Houston, TX, November 2011.