Arkansas New Play Festival to kick off this weekend

Arkansas New Play Festival / Courtesy

An annual event that helps develop brand new plays poised to move on to bigger stages around the world is set to kick off in Fayetteville this weekend.

Of course, we’re talking about the annual Arkansas New Play Festival, kicking off June 14 and running through June 23 at TheatreSquared and other venues around the region.

The event, organized each year by TheatreSquared, will feature staged readings of several new plays this year, including; Eugene Onegin by Sarah Gancher, Have to Believe We Are Magic by Sara Guerrero, Edi Ya & Diamond’s Grove by a.k. payne, and Malcolm X and Redd Foxx Washing Dishes at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack in Harlem by Jonathan Norton.

In addition, this year’s festival will include performances by the 2024 Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase, Sherlock Holmes: The Timbers Family File by LatinX Theatre Project, and the ANPF Apprentice Showcase of Songs for Drunk Cowboys Who May Also Be Women: An Anti-Musical (For Fools Only) by Sarah Loucks.

From the description of the festival:

Now in its 16th year, the Arkansas New Play Festival has helped incubate the development of more than 75 new plays. Join us for a series of trail-blazing new plays.  In addition to watching/attending the performances, you’re also invited to hear from the playwrights about their process and share your own thoughts with the creative team—and help shape new works from the ground up. Through the Festival, TheatreSquared seeks to give voice to playwrights whose timely and relevant stories resonate with the moment we live in—in Arkansas, in mid-America, and as a nation.

The readings this year will take place at TheatreSquared, located at 477 W. Spring St. in Fayetteville, as well as Ovations Plus (formerly Trike Theatre) at 902 SW 2nd St. in Bentonville, and the Medium (214 S. Main St.) in Springdale.

New Play Passes, which include tickets to all performances associated with the festival, are $50. Single passes are also available for $15

More info about the plays being workshopped at this year’s event is below.

For more info, or to purchase passes, visit

Eugene Onegin
by Sarah Gancher
directed by Ken Cerniglia

Saturday, June 15 at 5pm (at Ovations Plus)
Saturday, June 22 at 5:30pm (at TheatreSquared)

Description: Eugene Onegin by Sarah Gancher (creator of the Obie Award-winning Russian Troll Farm) is a modern bluegrass musical that is half pickin’ party and half barbeque. Pushkin’s novel-in-verse and Tchaikovsky’s opera have been reset and given new life in 1940s rural Arkansas, when a girl who dreams of writing songs falls for a magnetic but jaded touring musician.

Have to Believe We Are Magic
by Sara Guerrero
directed by Fran De Leon

Friday, June 14 at 7pm (at The Medium)
Sunday, June 23 at 2pm (at TheatreSquared)

Description: What is magic? Are we magic? And if so, how do we hold it? This part-biographical-part-magic love letter to a Pocha-Chicana-Latina coming-of-age time is filled with roller-skating, family, friendships, sex, love, abortion, and self-discovery. How does one keep and find their magic? All unfolds under the shadow of “The Magic Kingdom” (or “The Tragic Kingdom”) in central Orange County, California, in the summer of 1994.

Edi Ya & Diamond’s Grove
by a.k. payne
directed by Josiah Davis

Saturday, June 15 at 2pm (at Ovations Plus)
Saturday, June 22 at 2:30pm (at TheatreSquared)

Description: Set at the edge of an old U.S. mill town, Edi Ya & Diamond’s Grove tells a story about two Black young people working in an amusement park dripping with ghosts. Haunted by stories of the places their grandparents could not enter and memories of long summers spent riding coasters and losing childhood, Edi Ya and Diamond try to make sense of grief in this place of lost dreams. Commissioned by City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh, PA.

Malcolm X and Redd Foxx Washing Dishes at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack in Harlem
by Jonathan Norton
directed by Dexter Singleton

Sunday, June 16 at 2pm (at The Medium)
Sunday, June 23 at 5pm (at TheatreSquared)

Description: 1943. Two young Harlemites—Little and Foxy—form a friendship over leftover fried chicken and dirty dishwater. But a long, hot summer of heartbreak, betrayal, and racial uprisings moves them closer to the men they will become and farther from each other. Commissioned by TheatreSquared.

Sherlock Holmes: The Timbers Family File
by LatinX Theatre Project

Friday, June 21 at 7pm (at TheatreSquared)

Description: LatinX Theatre Project’s newest play, Sherlock Holmes: The Timbers Family File reimagines Sherlock Holmes as a Latine/x detective living and operating within their community. Our story follows a younger version of Sherlock Holmes as they make a name for themselves as the city’s newest detective by uncovering a string of robberies that has the entire neighborhood shook and police cracking down on the homies. With the help of the community and their unlikely companion, Watson, Sherlock is determined to figure out who is behind it all, and how to stop them.