skip navigation | text only | accessibility | site map

New Visions/New Voices

New Visions/New Voices is a week-long biennial workshop/festival for playwrights and theaters to stimulate and support the creation of new plays and musicals for young audiences and families. The next New Visions/New Voices will be May 1-8 of 2016. The public weekend is May 6-8.

Since its inception in 1991, the program has assisted in the development of 96 new plays, musicals, and operas from 86 playwrights and 37 composers, working with 57 U.S. and 10 international theater companies, and has received awards for exemplary service to the field from both the American Alliance for Theater and Education and the Children's Theatre Foundation of America.

Has there been a past participant from your home state or country?

While at the Kennedy Center, selected playwrights, directors, music directors, composers, and actors work collaboratively in a weeklong intensive to further develop new works. After revisions, rewrites, and rehearsals of the new plays and musicals, the works are presented as rehearsed readings during a three-day conference for theater professionals, educators, and others interested in the field.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the New Visions/New Voices festival, the 2016 event will include these initiatives:

  • An anthology, entitled New Visions/New Voices: 25 years/25 plays, to be published by Dramatic Publishing, tentatively in February 2016.
  • A four-country, seven-organization collaboration on an 'International Playwright's Intensive' (IPI), which will workshop new plays for young audiences from South Africa, Korea, and India. This partnership will take place at the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland the week before New Visions/New Voices with excerpts from those plays read during the New Visions/New Voices public weekend (May 6-8).

The New Visions/New Voices team continues to be committed to bringing international voices to our festival. As a result of the scope of this IPI initiative, New Visions/New Voices 2016 will not be including the International Playwright Observer program and the Translation Project as we have in previous years.

Additionally, due to the collaboration with our International Playwrights Intensive partners in South Africa, Korea, and India, the New Visions/New Voices 2016 festival will accept proposals only from U.S. companies.

New Visions/New Voices 2016


Austin, TX
ZACH Theatre and Teatro Vivo: jj's arcade
jj's arcade
, a play written by José Casas and directed by Nat Miller, follows the lives of a father and son struggling with the aftermath of a tragedy. In the process, a little boy named JJ discovers his ability to create, building a cardboard arcade; using this discovery as a way to cope with the world, but also to connect with the father who truly doesn't know him. Inspired by a true story, this play explores the power of imagination in our lives and the true meaning of “being a family.”

Costa Mesa, CA
South Coast Repertory: Amos & Boris
Amos, a mouse, longs to live on the sea so he builds a boat and sets out for a life of adventure. He fears his life will be cut short while he falls off of his boat in the middle of the sea and almost drowns. Thankfully, Boris, a whale comes to Amos' rescue and the two become fast friends. They realize that even though they are different in practically every way, they have more in common than they ever thought possible. An existential tale about friendship and mortality, Amos & Boris has been adapted from William Steig's prize-winning classic children's book by Sofia Alvarez (book and lyrics) and Daniel Roland Tierney (music) with direction by Shelley Butler.

Evanston, IL
Northwestern University: Ever In The Glades
Ever In The Glades revolves around five teenagers growing up on a fictional island in the Everglades where the adults are as dangerous as the gators.  When one of the kids returns from Juvenile Detention to help the rest escape to the mainland, it seems their prayers have been answered.  There's only one problem—they need a boat, and they need it before the adults catch wind of their plan and end it, or end them.  Written by Laura Schellhardt and directed by Rives Collins, the play begs the question: what is the current generation's responsibility to the next, and what happens if we fail them? 

Milwaukee, WI
First Stage: TXT ME L8R
It starts on a Wednesday.  Kids in high school getting the weirdest texts from fellow students they don't know. What's going on? And what if it's not people connecting with people via their phones… but phones trying to connect with other phones via their people? Written for First Stage's award-winning Young Company and working with director John Maclay, Eric Coble has crafted a fun, fast exploration of our relations to media, technology, and each other. A digital mystery for the savvy texter.

Minneapolis, MN
Children's Theatre Company: The Last Firefly
Inspired by Japanese folk tales and Kabuki theatre techniques, Naomi Iizuka crafts a brand new tale about Boom, the son of Thunder, whose search for his father leads him on an adventure that reveals the interconnectedness of the natural world and his place within it. The Last Firefly will premiere in a future season, directed by Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius.

Seattle, WA
Seattle Children's Theatre: SHADOWPLAY
Exploring the unseen world of imagination and fantasy, SHADOWPLAY by Robert Schenkkan, directed by Linda Hartzell, employs the grand literary tradition of the ghost story to tell a modern tale of teenage life and domestic darkness—and to call out the compassion and bravery needed to brighten one young girl's life.

An additional U.S. project has been named as an alternate, should one of the other projects be unable to participate.

New York, NY
Lincoln Center Education
& Trusty Sidekick Theatre Company: The Prizefighter of P.S. 217
Written by Drew Petersen and directed by Jonathan Shmidt Chapman

International Playwrights' Intensive
A partnership between the Kennedy Center and the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, the intensive will take place at the University of Maryland from April 24 – 30, 2016, followed by a presentation of excerpts read during the New Visions/New Voices conference at the Kennedy Center. International partners include ASSITEJ South Africa and the Soweto Theatre; The National Theatre Company of Korea; ASSITEJ/India and the Little Theatre of Bangalore.

I Am Fine, Thank You by Sunil Bannur
One Dream Too Many by Deepika Arwind
The Other Side by Vinati Makijany

Sweet Words House by Choon-keun Park, Translated by Alyssa Kim

South Africa
The Kids from Amandla Street by Lereko Mfono
Mbuzeni by Koleka Putuma
Mr. José and the Rabbits by Samson M. Mlambo
Space Rocks by Tamara Schulz
The Underground Library by Jon Keevy

Registration to attend the conference portion of New Visions/New Voices 2016

The festival will begin on Friday, May 6, 2016 in the Kennedy Center Family Theater and will conclude in the early afternoon of Sunday, May 8, 2016.

More registration information and materials will be available on this webpage shortly. Online registration for the conference begins December 2015.

For more information on New Visions/New Voices, please contact us at:

Please contact us at:

New Visions/New Voices
Education Division
The Kennedy Center
P.O. Box 101510
Arlington, VA 22210

Phone: (202) 416-8830