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Live Arts Theater is gearing up for a second round of WATERWORKS, a three-week festival of new theatrical works from playwrights local and global. WATERWORKS runs May 17 through June 2, 2024, at Live Arts Theater, 123 E. Water Street, in Charlottesville. Tickets are $10-$15 for readings and performances and are available at, by phone at 434-977-4177 x123, or at the door. Ticket packages are also available. WATERWORKS is presented by The Madwoman Project and sponsored by Open Hands in memory of Live Arts Co-Founder Michael Parent.

Live Arts hosts two special events during WATERWORKS: an Opening Night Reception on May 17, and a Wrap Party on closing night, June 2, in celebration of all volunteers from the 2023/24 Season. During performance dates, audiences are welcome to enjoy concessions at Live Arts’ Becker Bar. 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.

“We were very pleased to receive more than 600 submissions in our second year! More than half of these works came in our “Debut” and “Emerging” categories representing writers over 50 and under 25 years of age, respectively,” said Live Arts Director of New Works Adrienne Oliver. 

“Our reader teams volunteered hundreds of hours to the tremendous range for scripts—from the absurd to the melancholic, contemplative to riotous. It was a wonderful year for new work, and enthusiasm for the selected scripts is high. This year’s program represents the array of concerns, styles, and theatricality in submissions and features artists both local and from across the states. New works present opportunities to build new relationships, consider multiple perspectives, and take dramatic risks. We’re thrilled to hold space for such dynamic potential,” Oliver said.

Please see the complete listing of shows at


New Works are Live Arts-produced readings and make up the bulk of the festival. These plays represent a spectrum of playwright experience, including many nationally recognized scripts, all helmed by local directors. WATERWORKS features 19 new works, 16 directors, and over 50 performers! Additionally, the festival once again includes collaborations with the Live Arts Playwrights’ Lab’s production of Locally Sourced, featuring seven short plays, and with the Charlottesville Playwrights Collective, presenting a reading of one full-length play. Locally Sourced is sponsored by five champions of new work: Pamela Friedman and Ronald Bailey, Geri and Bruce Schirmer, and Virginia National Bank.   


The Spotlight Series features three staged reading productions of developed scripts in Live Arts’ Gibson Theater. Each Spotlight show performs one week of the festival.

AH WING AND THE AUTOMATON EAGLE by Brandon Zang plays May 17, May 18 (with playwright and director Q&A), and May 19, and is directed by Daniel Kunkel. AH WING, a 2023 WATERWORKS Artist Award Winner, is a steampunk alternate history retelling of the 1877 San Francisco Chinatown riot. The story centers on Ah Wing, a 14-year-old genius artificer who is trying to finish his late father’s final project: an automaton bald eagle. The play captures an era where the American promise of innovation and prosperity was built on the backs of immigrants, whose names and stories have since been erased.

NEEDVILLE by Sara M. Robinson plays May 24, May 25 (with playwright Q&A), and May 26, and is directed by the playwright. Based on Robinson’s 2019 poetry book of the same title, NEEDVILLE describes life in a fictitious coal-mining town in southwest Virginia. The ensemble brings a human touch to the poetry by putting lines into dialogue spoken by miners and families. Heart-touching and a little sobering, the play exposes the stark reality of these kind and tender people’s lives. 

Ti Ames’ new musical, BLUE RIDGE MAMA, directed by Cyril Amanfo, plays May 31, June 1 (with playwright and director Q&A), and June 2. BLUE RIDGE MAMA is an original hometown musical based on the playwright’s life and ancestry. Chris, a Black, queer college student, visits their mother and grandmother in Charlottesville, Virginia during winter break. Naturally, difficult conversations about identity, anxiety, and religion arise. When a snowstorm grounds them all under the same roof, the three generations are forced to confront their turbulent relationships and Chris’s traumatic experiences growing up in the very same city where their ancestors were enslaved.


May 25 at 7pm and 9pm: CHRIS ALAN is a nationally touring standup comedian and content creator based out of Charlottesville. Chris’ style is a mix of well-crafted jokes and stories ranging from family, fatherhood, the military, and marriage, coupled with quick-witted crowd work. He’s opened for comedians Roy Wood Jr, Michael Che, Mark Normand, Neal Brennan, Hannibal Buress, Colin Quinn, Bruce Bruce, and a host of others. He also hosts a growing weekly podcast, The Chris Alan Show. “LOCALS ONLY” is a comedy showcase featuring a diverse group of some of the best up and coming standup comics in the area including: Colby Knight, Gunnar Cain, Abhishek Kulkarni, Marilyn Hajj, Mitchell Paige, Amanda Fits, KB, Khalid Johnson John Rademacher, Jemar O’Neal, Jen Xu, Taylor Knight, Bruno Jardim, Randolph Washington Jr, and Chris Alan. 


Community Deep Dives are educational opportunities for theater-makers who would like to deepen their understanding of creating, developing, and engaging with new work. Workshops are held on Saturday afternoons, May 18, May 25 and June 1. These workshops are sponsored by Hanckel-Citizens Insurance.


Parties provide opportunities for the community to commune and soak in the full festival experience. Ticket buyers are invited to attend the free opening reception. All volunteers who played a part in the 2023/24 EXPECTATIONS Season are invited to the closing Wrap Party, where Live Arts celebrates their remarkable contributions. 


At $100 (only $75 for Live Arts subscribers), the All-Festival Pass is the deal of the festival, guaranteeing unlimited access to performances and readings. Weekly Passes are available for $40 (per week). Single tickets can be purchased for $10, $12, and $15, based on the venue and availability.  

About Live Arts 

Live Arts is a volunteer-powered, nonprofit community theater in Downtown Charlottesville. Founded in 1990, Live Arts is celebrating more than 33 years of forging theater and community. The 2023/23 Expectations Season is made possible by Elizabeth LeVaca remembering Joe LeVaca, C-VILLE Weekly, WTJU 91.1FM, Ting, and PJ Networks Computer Services. Live Arts is supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the City of Charlottesville; Albemarle County; and philanthropic gifts from hundreds of theater lovers in the Charlottesville community.

For More Information 

Please contact Marketing Coordinator Madison Patterson by email at or by phone at 540-447-4563 or 434-977-4177 x103. For schedule information, visit

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