PSA: SUBMISSIONS OPEN | For Red Bull Theater’s Short New Play Festival

We are looking for work with a classical inspiration. Six brand new short plays will be selected from this open-submission process to be presented alongside new plays from commissioned writers, Madeleine George (Hurricane Diane, The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence) and Robert O’Hara (Bootycandy, Insurrection: Holding History). Red Bull Theater’s 14th Annual Short New Play Festival is scheduled for Monday, June 24, 2024. This year’s theme? RENEWAL


“Happy New Year! Each year for our Short New Play Festival, we look for fresh and exhilarating work with classical inspiration. This year’s theme is RENEWAL. But that’s just a jumping off point. We hope that playwrights from around the world will respond to our mission to revitalize the classics. Writers are encouraged to riff on a classical character, borrow a classical setting, or be inspired to create a brand new style of dramatic verse. Finding inspiration from classics beyond the traditional Western canon is welcome. Through this festival, we hope to cultivate dialogues with classical theater in a multitude of creative and surprising ways. It’s a new year – time to write something new?”
Jesse Berger | Founder & Artistic Director

Using the theme RENEWAL, write a short play that: makes use of heightened language, and/or is in conversation with a classical theme, style, or story from any cultural tradition; is no more than 10 minutes in length; is self-contained with a beginning, middle and end; is an original, unpublished, and never previously produced new work.
Get the complete guidelines.

Selected playwrights will receive a staged reading of their submission as part of the festival on Monday, June 24, 2024, performed by an ensemble company of some of New York City’s finest actors, with a commissioning fee and travel reimbursement to attend the festival, rehearsal, and performance in New York City.


PSA: Red Bull Theater Calls For Submissions For Their 2022 Short New Play Festival!

I am just passing along the announcement and here’s the link to the submissions webpage:

OVERVIEW: Red Bull Theater’s Short New Play Festival returns on Monday, July 11, 2022. Six brand new short plays will be selected from an open-submission process and presented in live in-person staged readings alongside two new short plays by commissioned writers, STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS (Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Our Lady of 121st Street) and LARISSA FASTHORSE (The Thanksgiving Play, What Would Crazy Horse Do?).

INSPIRATION: We are looking for work with classical inspiration. The word ALCHEMY is just a jumping-off point for creative thematic juices. Review our Mission and take a look through our history of Readings and Productions to see the kind of work we have done. Respond to a play we’ve produced or choose a classic of your own to adapt. You might riff on a classical character, borrow a classical milieu, or be inspired to create a brand new style of dramatic verse. Finding inspiration from classics beyond the traditional Western canon is welcome. We hope you will be in dialogue with classical theater in a multitude of creative and surprising ways. 

SUBMISSION FEE: There is a $10 submission fee.


SELECTED PLAYWRIGHTS: will receive a staged reading of their submission as part of the festival on Monday, July 11, 2022, performed by an ensemble company of some of New York City’s finest actors.

will receive a commissioning fee of $400 and will receive a travel reimbursement of up to $400 to attend the festival rehearsal and performance on Monday, July 11 in New York City.

will be consulted on choices for the shared ensemble cast, will have final script approval, and will have the opportunity to have their play published and licensed by Stage Rights as part of our Red Bull Shorts series.

There are some other pieces of information and guidelines that playwrights will want to know and a bit of ‘fine print’…which can be found on the Red Bull website.


Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist Streaming At Red Bull Theater!

This has only about a week left to go…streaming information is here!

screen capture by Ed Heinzelman

Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist is set in a time of plagues…Jacobean plagues…and the root story is cons conning the cons while the elite chill in the country. Now, I have not read Jonson’s original, but I think that I am safe in saying that Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation strays from Jonson because it is so damn pertinent to our current pandemic! And I doubt that Jonson’s audience would have gathered in all of the current plays nuances either. But I can’t say enough about Hatcher’s adaptation. It speaks to our times despite the out of date premise and the absurd situations depicted. This is a marvel of a play.

But certainly, this is a farce. And a laugh out loud farce. And one of the best that I’ve seen in quite a while.

Our story…a wealthy aristocrat had run off to the country to avoid the plague and left a serving man in the city to look after his home there. Said serving man has gotten involved with a charlatan and his female accomplice…they have been using the mansion as a base to fleece a number of wealthy gentry through any number of different devices. And…

“chaos is at hand!”

And I am guessing director Jesse Berger should get credit for casting The Alchemist…and the cast is marvelous…after watching this I can’t imagine who else could have played these roles more effectively. I have two favorites…we’ll get to that.

And Mr. Berger also has to get a standing ovation for his direction of this play. The complex timing, the movement of actors around the set, the fluid entries and exits, the swift and complicated costume changes all go on without a hitch…and he had the actors well prepared for what is a difficult text to speak and keep straight! The action is non-stop.

courtesy of the Red Bull Theater

We start with our nefarious threesome who have taken up shop in the mansion…Subtle, played by Reg Rogers, is by turns the alchemist, a seer, and a teacher…Face, played by Manoel Feliciano, who is the gentlemen who is left to care for the house plus a number of characters embodied to help Subtle with their scams…and Dol, played by Jennifer Sanchez, who is the female distraction or assistant or temptress in their schemes. And although they’ve all sworn to get along and co-operate and share their ill got gains…at any number of points they display a certain willingness to cheat the others out of theirs!

And it is these three who are most pressed upon to keep separate the various characters and roles they play as part of their schemes, straight along with their costuming and accents. Challenging in the least…but these three pull it off with gusto. Subtle to Face as they play through (much to the delight of this audience) “you wanted another part!”

Courtesy of the Red Bull Theater

And on to my favorites: Jacob Ming-Trent plays Mammon, “thou rotund sinner”. An apparently rich but greedy man of the neighborhood…and probably the character that lost the most in the various swindles…although often the source of his own undoing…and who actually gets the LAST word if not actually the last lines in the play. But Mr. Ming-Trent plays him with swagger and finesse and a bold love of life…and a certain pursuit of happiness that is a lot of fun to watch. And even though he is accompanied by his skeptical friend, Surly, here played by Louis Mastillo, Mammon never loses hope…until the bitter end. And Surly is my other favorite…ever skeptical…and just as devious as any other character. He often talks directly to the audience…informing them of the obvious or explaining his own actions…with the bravado of an extra in a mob movie, Brooklyn accent and all!

Courtesy of the Red Bull Theater

And we have a constant parade of others who seek advice, boons, requests, lessons, or an alchemist’s stone. Dapper, played by Carson Elrod, who is horribly unlucky at gambling and wishes that Subtle provide him with a familiar or spirit to bring him good luck at the gaming tables. You can probably guess where this ends up. But it gets pretty convoluted and hilarious before play’s end. Dugger, played by Nathan Christopher, a lovelorn tobacconist, who wants Subtle to advise a wealthy widow to select him as her next husband. The widow Pliant, played by Theresa Avia Lim, has more up her sleeve and apparently skirts than is apparent at first glance. Did I forget to tell you this was also something of a bawdy tale? My bad…it certainly is! Ananais, an Antibaptist who seeks a have a stone of his own to turn base metals into gold. He resists handing over payment without results which also leads to unexpected turmoil and comedy…and maybe a bit of bawd as well. Ananais is played by Stephen Derosa. And finally Kastril, Pliant’s brother who seeks help from Subtle to find a knight to marry his sister and lessons in argument! Allen Tedder provides us with a very outrageous Kastril.

Me thinks this version ends in a different; much different vein than Ben Jonson originally intended…but this one is sublime. So there you have it ” and a Shetland pony.”

As I said above, this streams online until February 14, 2022 and here is the link! It is a pay what you can presentation so please be as generous as you are able. I don’t think this play will disappoint you!

screen capture by Ed Heinzelman