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The Kennedy Center

Adi Stein, Manu Kamasi, Laura C. Harris, and Lynette Rathnam in Shadowplay by Robert Schenkkan. Photo by Margot Schulman.

About 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 April 27-29, 2018.

Since its inception in 1991, the program has assisted in the development of 111 new plays, musicals, and operas from 97 playwrights and 38 composers, working with 61 U.S. and 12 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.

New Visions/New Voices 2018

Between Earth and Sky

GALA Hispanic Theatre, Washington, D.C.

On a Texas ranch in the 1930's, 12-year-old Dolores struggles to hold onto her dream of studying astronomy. When her great-aunt Ynes arrives for a visit, she is swept into stories of Ynes' plant collecting expeditions in far-off countries. Based on the life of Mexican-American botanist Ynes Mexia, this bilingual play written by Cecilia Cackley and directed by Elena Velasco explores the equally compelling worlds of plants and stars, and the importance of finding your passion.


ArKtype, Brooklyn, NY

Inflatable rafts on the Mediterranean, dark cargo holds of trucks and family photos wrapped carefully in a backpack that crosses several border checkpoints. The world is alive with movement, migration, and young people who set out into the unsure waters of their future fleeing the effects of climate change, or war, or poverty, to build new lives. Developed by artists Christopher Myers (author and illustrator) and Kaneza Schaal (director) through their creative work with refugee youth from around the world, Cartography asks what part we all have to play in these evolving experiences, where have we come from, how have we moved, and where are we all going.

Forever Poppy

Childsplay, Tempe, AZ

Born into a New Orleans family of Cajun bikers and experimental bakers, Forever Poppy lives an ideal life. But one night, her parent’s bakery is destroyed and Forever is dragged into a mysterious world. Heartbroken, she stumbles across elements of her ancestral legacy: immortal identical twins, a White Wolf guide, octogenarian players hidden in the forest and a lost Shakespearean play that only she can read. Laurie Woolery directs this magical tale by José Cruz González which asks us: What is heritage? What is legacy? And, in the face of loss, what is the meaning of forever?

The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus

Metro Theater Company, St. Louis, MO

Sheila is the eight-year-old white-hot sun around which her friends orbit. This story, written by Eric Coble, is about children left alone in summer with epic imaginations, and what happens when they meet wild animals intent on bringing that wild back to civilization. One night, as the children hide in their fortress of junk, a pick-up truck rumbles down the dirt road driven by a real-life coyote who walks on his hind legs, wears a denim jacket and sunglasses. Sheila steps up to meet him and suddenly the whole crew is in the truck hurtling toward…. where? Directed by Julia Flood, this universe spirals, leading our intrepid band to meet The Council of Howls, the Sting Brigade, the Challenge of The Cactus Flower, and much more.

Hans Christian Andersen

Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA and iTheatrics, New York, NY

13-year-old Christian Andersen is the first commoner ever chosen by the King of Denmark to study at the Royal Academy, but Christian isn’t sure he wants to go. He’ll have to move to Copenhagen and live without his mom and dad. Royal children have shoes without holes in them… and books; Christian can’t even afford paper. Plus his new teacher is rumored to be meaner than sea witch. Loosely based on the real life of Hans Christian Andersen, the show follows his journey from a poor storyteller to becoming one of the most celebrated writers of all time. This new musical for young audiences is directed by Rosemary Newcott, features a score by the legendary Frank Loesser utilizing songs from the film, never-before-heard trunk songs, and an original libretto by Timothy Allen McDonald.

Spamtown, USA

Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN

Austin, Minnesota, 1985. A small community is torn apart when the workers at the Hormel meat packing plant strike for better wages and safer working conditions, and citizens are forced to take a stand. As the spotlight of national media is turned on Austin and the National Guard is called in, the bonds between neighbors, friends, and even family members strain and crack. Based on a historical moment, Philip Dawkins’ new play, inspired by interviews with local residents, and directed by Peter Brosius, explores the event from the perspective of the young people of Austin. What happens when your school is no longer safe, or your mom says you can’t play with your best friend-all because of a strike? Navigating through a time of uncertainty, the kids of Austin experience doubt and fear as well as kindness and clarity — moments that will shape their lives and their futures forever.

Return to Niobrara

The Rose Theater, Omaha, NE

180 years ago, Steven's great-great grandfather Chief Standing Bear stood up in court and demanded that a federal Judge recognize that Indians are "persons" under the law. Today, following an altercation where Steven is bullied at school on account of his long hair, Steven must follow in his grandfather's footsteps and speak out against his school district's attempt to force him to cut his hair, and ultimately, to erase his identity. Written by Mary Kathryn Nagle (citizen of the Cherokee Nation) and directed by Roxanne Wach, the play invites the audience to see the past emerging in our present, and ultimately what it means to truly stand for who we are.

Sobre Ruedas (On Wheels)

The Translation Project, Argentina

Boy messages Girl. Girl messages Boy. Boy and Girl go on a blind date and discover more than expected about themselves and the complex world they live in. As if going through puberty wasn’t hard enough, the two must confront their own preconceived notions about disability as well as the fears and prejudices of society at large. This play written by María Inés Falconi and directed by Rob McQuay asks, will the Boy and Girl find strength and value in their differences?


Read the press release announcing New Visions/New Voices 2018

Festival Registration

The 2018 New Visions/New Voices readings will begin on Friday, April 27, 2018 in the Kennedy Center Family Theater and will conclude in the early afternoon of Sunday, April 29, 2018.

New Visions/New Voices
Festival Registration

Apply to be a Graduate Student Apprentice!


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

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

Phone: (202) 416-8830

Now available

As a celebration of our 25th Anniversary, now available for purchase is our two volume anthology, New Visions/New Voices: 25 years/25 plays.

A celebration of our 25th Anniversary in 2016, now available for purchase, is our two volume anthology, New Visions/New Voices: 25 years/25 plays, available for purchase through Dramatic Publishing.

We are looking forward to another 25 years!

Buy now