Give Now

WATERWORKS Festival Makes a Splash in Cville

May 3, 2023 –  Live Arts Theater launches WATERWORKS, a four-weekend long festival of new theatrical works from playwrights local and global, curated by New Works Director Adrienne Oliver. WATERWORKS runs May 11 (free preview) through June 3, 2023, at Live Arts Theater, 123 E. Water Street, in Charlottesville. Tickets are $10-$15 for readings and performances, available at, by phone at 434-977-4177 x123, or at the door. Ticket packages are also available through the Box Office. WATERWORKS is presented by the Madwoman Project, sponsored by Pamela Friedman and Ronald Bailey, and supported by the Bank of America Foundation and Virginia National Bank. 

Live Arts will present a number of special events during WATERWORKS: A Free Festival Preview Night on May 11; Opening Night Reception on May 12; Cheers for Charity fundraiser at Starr Hill Brewery on May 21; and MOONDANCE, a closing night party on June 3. During WATERWORKS performance dates (Thursday-Saturdays), audiences can enjoy the Live Arts Becker Bar and concessions.

Joining the growing list of fabulous Charlottesville festivals, WATERWORKS celebrates new theatrical works in development presented across multiple venues in a repertory-style kaleidoscope of one-acts and full-length performances, readings and events designed to stoke conversation and curiosity.


The WATERWORKS Spotlight Series features staged reading productions of developed scripts in the Gibson Theater. These featured works represent our community’s intimate connections to concepts of legacy and monumentality; these plays explore grief, reconciliation, delight, labor, and the enduring beauty of the noble human project, building a just, loving world.  

There are four SPOTLIGHT shows, each performing one week of the festival:

SILAS, THE UNINVITED by Derek J. Snow plays May 11 (free preview), May 12 (opening), and May 13* (*scenes with playwright Q&A), directed by Clinton Johnston, and features local actors Auntais Faulkner, Abena Foreman Trice, Bryce Kirkland, and Jude Hansen. After Silas is lynched in the 1930s, his spirit encounters a ghostly stranger who offers him the chance at a new life in the same skin, if—after visiting 1960, 1990, and 2020—he finds a time more just. SILAS, THE UNINVITED was inspired by the playwright’s powerful submission to The Breath Project Festival, The Ballad of the Dying Body. An established playwright from Cincinnati, Derek is one of The Breath Project’s five New Play Commission Initiative recipients.

LOOKING GLASS ELEGY by Robert A. Wray, directed by Kerry Moran and featuring solo performer Mark McLane, plays May 18 and twice on May 20 (matinee and evening shows). LOOKING GLASS ELEGY is a one-man show that unfolds around the memories of George, a film location scout who journeys back and forth in time with the hopes of making sense of existence. The play unfolds as an odyssey of the psyche exploring the inescapable presence of the past.

UNSUNG STORIES is a collection of three different evenings, May 25, 26, and 27: 

May 25: Poetry Live!: Showcasing local poets hosted by James Cole, explores “unsung stories” and the power of words 

May 26: Selections from Ti Ames’ new musical, BLUE RIDGE MAMA, featuring Ti Ames and Leslie Scott-Jones. BLUE RIDGE MAMA is an original hometown musical based on the playwright’s life and ancestry, following a Black, queer, non-binary college student who reluctantly returns home to Charlottesville, VA during winter break to visit their mother and grandmother. 

May 27: WATERWORKS 2024 Showcase: Three unique and provocative new works selected from 2023 WATERWORKS submissions to be developed at round 2, the 2024 WATERWORKS festival:

Selected scenes from AH WING AND THE AUTOMATON EAGLE by Brandon Zang and panel discussion with co-producer LingXi Chinese Theatre. AH WING, a 2023 WATERWORKS Artist Award Winner, is a steampunk alternate history retelling of the 1877 San Francisco Chinatown riot. 

Selections from BLUE RIDGE MAMA, a new musical by Ti Ames

A glimpse into THE COLOUR WOMAN by Petron Brown, moderated by New Works Director Adrienne Oliver. THE COLOUR WOMAN, 2023 WATERWORKS Artist Award Winner, juggles with the intersecting themes of colorism, immigration, and Caribbean folklore. 

#CHARLOTTESVILLE by Priyanka Shetty, directed by Ti Ames, plays June 1, 2 and 3. Constructed verbatim from interviews with local survivors and others directly impacted, this work witnesses deeply personal narratives of the violent attacks of August 11/12 and the deep-seated racial inequities that have long existed in Charlottesville, contributing to one of the most horrific manifestations of racial violence in America.


New Works and New Reads are Live Arts-produced readings selected from more than 500 submissions. These plays were selected from 62 finalists and represent a spectrum of playwright experience. We are thrilled that more than 60% are nationally recognized scripts helmed by local directors. Each production is 100% volunteer-powered. WATERWORKS features 15 new works and new reads, including a Teenish Theater Workshop production and co-productions with the Live Arts Playwrights’ Lab (LOCALLY SOURCED) and the Charlottesville Playwrights Collective (HITHER, GA).  Please see the Index of Shows for a complete listing.



Creative Direction by Amanda Finn

Lizzy was named one of Time Out LA’s Comedians to Watch in 2018, appearing on Lights Out with David Spade, Comedy Central’s Corporate, The Deadliest Chef, HBO’s Crashing, Kirby Jenner on Quibi, and AMC AllBlk’s Send Help; and also hosting her own podcast, Lizzy Cooperman’s In Your Hands.


In this hometown show, the Charlottesville-raised comedian returns to deliver her first local stand-up performance! Jade Catta-Preta is a Brazilian-born comic and actress working in Los Angeles, New York, and Brazil. Prior to the pandemic, Jade hosted the iconic E! Network show “The Soup,” and is now the host of Hulu’s brand new hit dating show, “Hotties.”


WATERWORKS Community Intensives are one or two-day, affordable educational opportunities for actors who would like to deepen their understanding of creating, developing, and engaging with new work, guided by teaching artists Priyanka Shetty, Daniel Kunkel, Chris Jeter, Andrew Bryce, Ronda Hewitt, and David Minton. Registration is open through the Live Arts Box Office ( for all six Community Intensives, and financial aid is available. All Live Arts volunteers are eligible for 15% off Community Intensive registration fees. 


Live Arts is a volunteer-powered, nonprofit community theater in Downtown Charlottesville and a 501(c)(3) organization. Founded in 1990, Live Arts is celebrating 32 years of forging theater and community. The 2022/23 Transformations Season is made possible by season sponsors Elizabeth and Joe LeVaca, media sponsors C-VILLE Weekly and WTJU 91.1FM, pay-what-you-can sponsor Ting, education sponsor The Local, IT partner PJ Networks Computer Services, and Project Access sponsor Virginia National Bank, and philanthropic gifts by hundreds of theater lovers in our community.

Live Arts is supported by grants from Albemarle County, City of Charlottesville, the BamaWorks Fund of Dave Matthews Band at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the DN Batten Foundation, Bank of America Foundation, Dominion Energy Foundation, and Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Upcoming Events

Sign up for Our Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Live Arts is supported in part by