The 25th Annual Festival of New American Theatre

The 25th Annual Festival of New American Theatre

April 7, 2023 to April 23, 2023

The southwest’s premiere new theatre works festival. Trust us, it’s a process.

Hosted annually by The Phoenix Theatre Company, the Festival of New American Theatre amplifies new voices and expands the canon of American theatre. Returning for its 25th year, the Festival will continue honoring our longstanding commitment to the development of new works, playwrights, and performers and include a variety of events that allow artists of all kinds to see their work come alive onstage. This year’s festival will feature: a play reading, two musical readings, two Composer Lyricist Cabarets, Choreography Lab, First Draft Series, a brand-new event showcasing the role of designers in new work development, and a return of the 24-hour Theatre Project. The 25th Anniversary will also feature collaborations with Spotlight Youth Theatre and Arizona State University. This is an opportunity to witness how a production goes from the page to the stage!



the evolution of dar

Play Reading

April 7 at 7:00 PM and April 8 at 3:00 PM

Written by Rusty Ferracane

Directed by Katie McFadzen

Dramaturge Kirt Shineman

The Evolution of Dar takes place over a five-year span in the early 1970’s. Set to the soundtrack of selected top 40 hits from the era, the play follows a young boy named Dar, from nine years old to fourteen years old. He is raised by his alcoholic mother who is desperately lonely and insecure.  Her two turbulent marriages are unbearable for Dar, as well as the endless bullying he endures at school. One way he copes with the torture of emotional and physical abuse is by escaping into a fantasy world of popular television variety shows. A story about how pain and suffering can often provide us with the courage to overcome adversity.

Onward and Upward

Based on the play Up (The Man in the Flying Chair) by Bridget Carpenter

Musical Reading

April 14 at 7:00 PM and April 16 at 3:00 PM

Music by Charlie Romano

Lyrics by Will Wegner

Book by Will Wegner and Charlie Romano

Directed by Michael Barnard

Music Directed by Jeff Kennedy

Dramaturge John Perovich

In 1983, Walter Griffin made national headlines after tying a cluster of weather balloons to a lawnchair and flying 16,000 feet into the sky. Nearly two decades later, Walter is still searching for his next great invention, but he struggles to get his ideas off the ground. His wife, Helen, encourages him to find a steady job, while their son, Mikey, searches desperately for recognition of his own. After a surreal encounter with his idol, high-wire artist Philippe Petit, Walter believes he's found his ticket to success and goes to extreme lengths to fund his new prototype. Meanwhile, Mikey finds an unlikely friend in a pregnant classmate, Maria, who soon lands him a job at her Aunt Chris’s questionable small business. Helen is overjoyed at her family’s newfound stability, but she soon discovers that their situation is more precarious than it seems, threatening to topple down off the wire at any moment.

Do No Harm

Musical Reading

April 21 at 7:00 PM and April 23 at 3:00 PM

Music by Doug Katsaros

Lyrics by Amanda Yesnowitz

Book by Ken Davenport

Directed by Michelle Chin

Music Directed by Kevin White

Dramaturge A.R. Corwin

Growing up in small-town, working class 19th century Ireland, Charlotte is told what to do, what to think, and how to behave. But this spirited lass refuses to follow the well-worn path of generations of servile, domesticated women before her. Fueled by a joyless childhood and an unflappable ambition, Charlotte is determined to become a doctor even if it means living her life in disguise — as a man. Over the course of our story, Charlotte reinvents herself as Dr. Charles Baker, sacrificing her womanhood for a greater cause. In the process she becomes the first female surgeon to perform a successful C-section, in which both mother and child survive. Tragically, her accomplishments go undiscovered until her death when the world finally learns that the real Dr. Charles Baker was a feisty maverick woman, Charlotte Anne Berry. Inspired by a true story.

additional events

tales from the amusement park

(In collaboration with Arizona State University)

April 22 at 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM

Tales from the Amusement Park is a musical theatre-style song cycle written by Matt Villar.  Each song within the piece is a self-contained story which explores the melodrama within the mundane.  Everyday, people go about their time heedless of the lives being lived in concert with their own.  This cycle seeks to inspire compassion by taking a step back and examining the ups and downs of a day in the life of the average person, using the ever-familiar setting of an amusement park to ground the action (and inaction) against a widely-relatable backdrop.

Composer lyricist cabaret

Britt Bonney Performances: April 22 at 1:00 PM and April 23 at 6:00 PM

Bret Simmons and David Howard Performances: April 22 at 6:00 PM and April 23 at 1:00 PM

The Composer Lyricist Cabaret is returning to this year’s Festival, and we will be featuring two different cabarets. This year we will highlight the work of Composer/Lyricist Britt Bonney and Composer and Lyricist team Bret Simmons and David Howard. Each performance will feature a 45-minute set of music and will be followed by a talkback.

choreography lab

April 15 at 1:00 PM and April 16 at 6:00 PM

Featuring Choreographers Nicole Olson and Nathaniel Shaw

After premiering in last year’s festival - Choreography Lab is back! Modeled after and inspired by the New York Theatre Barn event of the same name, this offering will showcase how movement and dance can elevate and expand storytelling in new musicals. This event will feature two different choreographers setting movement on four dancers to the same song from a new musical. The two interpretations will be presented in tandem to show the iconic mark a choreographer can leave on a musical. This event will be followed by a talkback.

choreography lab: master class

April 15 at 6:00 PM

As an homage to our ever-popular Summer of Dance classes, the Choreography Lab: Master Class will be an interactive event structured like a dance class. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn sections of movement from both iterations of the choreography featured in the Choreography Lab performances. This is an interactive event – please come dressed to move.

first draft series: young playwrights

(In collaboration with Spotlight Youth Theatre)

April 15 at 11:30 AM and April 16 at 11:30 AM

I Would've Never Guessed by Chris Brattin

The 7 AM Bus by Max Mendoza

Boarding for Neverland by Spencer Wareing

Through a collaboration with Spotlight Youth Theatre, we are presenting a special iteration of our First Draft Series featuring young playwrights. This free event will feature sit down readings of three different one-act plays which competed and won Spotlight Youth Theatre’s 2022-2023 Playfest, their annual playwriting competition for young adult playwrights.

the 24-hour theatre project

Drawing of Artists April 7 at 6:00 PM

Performance April 8 at 6:00 PM

A Festival favorite is making a return this year in honor of the 25th Anniversary. Four playwrights are randomly paired with a director and group of actors to write, rehearse, and memorize a short play to be performed 24-hours later. Join us for the drawing to see what artists will be paired together as well as the performance for an evening of brand-new short plays!


April 15 at 3:00 PM

This new Festival event puts a spotlight on the work of designers and their role in establishing the world and aesthetic of a new work. This will be an informative panel with lighting, costume, and scenic designers who are new work veterans. This panel is also in conjunction with the reading of Onward and Upward. The artists will talk about their creative process and design ideas for a fully produced version of this musical.

The Festival of New American Theatre is sponsored by

Upcoming Dates for The 25th Annual Festival of New American Theatre

Friday 4/07/2023 7:00 PM The Evolution of Dar
Saturday 4/08/2023 3:00 PM The Evolution of Dar
Saturday 4/08/2023 6:00 PM The 24-Hour Theatre Project
Friday 4/14/2023 7:00 PM Onward and Upward
Saturday 4/15/2023 11:30 AM First Draft Series: Young Playwrights
Saturday 4/15/2023 1:00 PM Choreography Lab


To learn about our COVID-19 health and safety procedures, click here.