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New Play Festival brings six original plays to St. Pete this weekend

New Play Festival brings six original plays to St. Pete this weekend

A standing ovation after an American Stage show
Photo courtesy American Stage

Local theater icon American Stage is bringing back one of its most iconic – and impactful – weekends of the year. The 2024 Lift Every Voice: New Play Festival will showcase six never-before-produced shows over the course of the four-day weekend, March 1-4, complete with panels, workshops, and a keynote address. Tickets are available now.

The annual festival is not only an opportunity for guests to witness never-before-seen shows, but also a tremendous venue for up-and-coming playwrights to showcase their talents. Sponsored by the James Museum for Western and Wildlife Art, and Steven Walker, Lift Every Voice selected six finalists from all of the submissions, bringing plays that are still in their infancy onto the big stage and giving them a huge platform on their way to the top.

In addition to the six new pieces of theatre (more on those below), the annual American Stage Write On! program connects local middle and high school students with theatre professionals to help guide them toward writing their own plays. As part of the program, a select number of students will host play readings over the course of the festival weekend.

All told, there will be 10 performances of the six selected plays, in addition to opening and closing receptions and a keynote address with Dr. Martha Bireda. See the full schedule and get tickets here. Shows take place at both American Stage and The James Museum. This year’s plays are as follows:

Flowers for Men by Christian Mendonça

Henri, a latinx social worker, creates “Flowers for Men” with one goal in mind: to unpack the toxic masculinity of five men in his community as they tend to a community garden. As the community garden grows, each of the men’s complicated connection to themselves and each other is revealed.

Goddess at the Lucky Lady Motel by Nimisha Ladva

The Lucky Lady is more than a motel, it’s a home and a refuge for Indian immigrant Mummy-ji and her America-born son, Ravi. Following the loss of their patriarch, the family will each reckon with their understanding of class, gender, and cultural identity. Over the nine days of Navatri, a family fractures, and reforms.

Aberdeen and Netarine by Syd Rushing

Two church mothers have a lot to say about their once thriving community that is now disintegrating with multiple school closings, burnt out buildings and gang shootings. They decide to go up against the school board, the church and the prominent political figures of the city to implement change to save the city’s children.

Glenburn 12 WP by Vickie Ramirez

While the city is protesting police brutality, two strangers – one Black, one Native American – meet in an empty Irish bar. Over one afternoon, a chance meeting turns into a life-changing event.

The Dog by Lily Rushing

Taryn reveals more than she intended when she recounts her experience on a reservation while vacationing in Arizona. It’s just a dog…right?

Bats#!t by Steven J. Burge

Part confessional. Part storytelling. All ridiculous, “Bats#!t” is a 75 minute monologue that, depending on statutes of limitations and local laws regarding admission of guilt wherever this may be produced, is either 100% fictional or entirely autobiographical. Trigger warning:  This show contains a cis white man talking about himself for over an hour. It also contains some legit-upsetting topics like parallel parking; theater camp; coming out in small-town, rural America; assault; addiction; pickle ball; and mental illness. Oh! And clowns!

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