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WATERWORKS: Call for New Works

WATERWORKS: 2023 Submissions Guidelines 

Live Arts is now accepting submissions for WATERWORKS, a festival to be held May 12 through June 3, 2023, in Charlottesville, Virginia. WATERWORKS is a month-long celebration of new theatrical works and voices at Live Arts and beyond! This new works festival continues Live Arts’ long history of showcasing local and emerging playwrights. 

Live Arts is a volunteer-powered organization. Selected works will be staffed and staged by non-union volunteers engaged by Live Arts staff. 

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We are committed to cultivating new theater pieces, supporting playwrights in the development of their work, and diversifying the stories told on our stages. As a new endeavor within a predominantly white theater, we seek to construct diverse teams and programming representative of the abundant talent and craftsmanship across our dynamic community.

Submissions are free.

Maximum submission limit of three (3) works per writer, or writing team, in total. 

“Full-length works” means all works with a foreseeable runtime of 60-120 minutes, including stage business. “Micro-plays” means works 10 minutes or less. 

Wherever noted, “key artistic roles” means applicants have secured the actors/performers, director/producer, and stage manager, as applicable, prior to submission. 

By submitting work to a specific call, applicants affirm they are the sole or co-creator and meet the particular criteria. Please review all calls to determine the best place for your work. 


We will employ an anonymous submission process to eliminate unintentional bias on the part of our team of qualified readers. All scripts will be considered by multiple readers prioritizing artistic distinction to determine finalists. We will honor the aesthetic and cultural importance of BIPOC artists. We will prioritize artistic distinction in our selection processes. 

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Final programming will be selected and curated by the New Works Director Adrienne Oliver, together with a core artistic team at Live Arts, co-producer organization staff, and other local artists representing the cultural wealth and expertise of the community.


Works that explore culture, humanity, and justice-minded themes.

Works that celebrate theatricality, expression, and connectivity.

Works prominently centering womxn and other marginalized voices.

Age-embracing works, with opportunities for senior and/or junior artists.

Innovative and thought-provoking material.

Works exploring language, dialogue, communication, ideas, and energy.

Works by historically erased artists and writers.

The WATERWORKS artistic and production staff are unwaveringly committed to disrupting patterns and practices that perpetuate harm, oppression, and erasure for all people of color and other marginalized people. Recognizing intentions and impact are not synonymous, we own the failures of our institutions to effectively protect and champion underrepresented artists. We seek accountability in our cultural competency and remain transparent in our efforts as we earn the community’s trust.

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Works submitted in this category must be original and cannot have been published. Works may be any length, including full-length. The deadline to submit is midnight, January 2, 2023.

Emerging Artists: For writers and writing teams between 16 to 25 years old.

Artists in this category may be students, but do not have to be for consideration. Works submitted in this category may have been produced at a school-based presentation, at a concert reading, or in a workshop. 


Please complete this form by 11:59 PM on Monday, January 2, 2023. Selected Emerging Artists works will receive notification of status by February 1, 2023.

Debut Works: For writers and writing teams over 50 years old. 

Works submitted in this category may have been produced at a school-based presentation, at a concert reading, or in a workshop. 


Please complete this form by 11:59 PM on Monday, January 2, 2023. Selected Debut Works will receive notification of status by February 1, 2023.

Unstaged Works: No age restrictions for writers or writing teams.

Works submitted in this category may not have been produced in any format, including concert readings or school-based presentations. 


Please complete this form by 11:59 PM on Monday, January 2, 2023. Selected Unstaged Works will receive notification of status by February 1, 2023.


Use the appropriate form provided on the Live Arts website ( to submit all work and relevant details. 

Please submit as a single .doc, .docx, or .pdf format where the file name contains the show’s title and submission category [e.g., Play_Name_Emerging_Artists]. Do not include personal details including names in the submission title.

Standard play script format is preferred, but not required. All submissions must have legibly typed 12-point font and clearly marked character names connected to their dialogue. 

Please number all pages.

The script’s cover page should contain the work’s title only; please remove any identifying information including names, addresses, or other details from submission.

The second page of the script should contain a brief synopsis of the play (less than 250 words) and a complete cast list that includes relevant character information.

Need formatting assistance? Contact for support.


New Works finalists will receive notification of status by February 1, 2023. Work may be withdrawn by submitting written request. Please email with subject line WITHDRAW [Title] to by March 1, 2023.

All accepted works will receive details regarding rehearsal coordination, programming schedule information, and production package offers following their acceptance.

By submitting work, participants agree to allow Live Arts a potential production of their play during WATERWORKS, with performances occurring between May 12 and June 3, 2023. This may include workshopping/editing the play as needed with a director, and permission for Live Arts to create photography/video of the production for marketing, grant submission, and education purposes. While agreeing to those permissions, all writers retain ownership/copyright of their work to re-stage, publish, or license to others in the future.


Live Arts is a welcoming home for all stories and storytellers. Our engagement in local communities runs deep, and we happily attract participants and audiences from across Central Virginia. We’re known for exceptionally high-caliber productions that reflect the remarkable talent of our volunteer actors and production teams. 

For more than three decades, Live Arts has dedicated itself to the mission of “forging theater and community” in Charlottesville, Virginia. We acknowledge that we occupy Monacan and Manahoac nations’ ancestral home and live on stolen land. We recognize them as the original stewards of this land and pay our respect to their elders—past, present, and emerging. 

We further acknowledge that we have benefited from and created systems that have reinforced institutional inequities to the detriment of many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We recognize and defer to the scholarship and wisdom of BIPOC artists, educators, and leaders, locally and beyond—past, present, and emerging. 

Learn about our organizational priorities in our Strategic Plan

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