Playhouse on the Square, in partnership with Sue and Frank Guarino, are proud to announce the staged readings for this year’s competition finalists.  Streamed live via Zoom, the six readings will take place on the Playhouse on the Square main stage, December 6-8 & December 13-15 at 7:00 pm.  Each night’s reading will be hosted by Director of NewWorks, Jordan Nichols.  An open forum, moderated by Nichols, will begin following each night’s reading.

The NewWorks@TheWorks Playwriting Competition provides an outlet for new playwrights to showcase their work and have a chance to see their play produced on a professional level. A panel of local directors, actors, and designers will review all submitted scripts and select six to receive staged readings. After the six readings have been presented, Playhouse on the Square will select two that will receive full productions.  The playwright(s) of each play will be flown to Memphis to take part in the rehearsals and the development of the new work. Along with these fully mounted productions, the two winning works will each be awarded a prize of $750. They will receive world premieres in an upcoming season on Playhouse on the Square’s third performance space, TheatreWorks at the Square.

The 2020-2021 finalists and performance nights are as follows:

7 Minutes to Live 

By Richard Lyons Conlon
Director: Jared Johnson

Sunday, December 13th – 7PM


No metaphor. No joke. Child of privilege Henry Crawford has exactly seven minutes to live and he’s dying to tell us the whole sad, twisted tale of how he ended up handcuffed to a dumpster in his underwear — with broken nose and bloodied shirt. He tells us how his girlfriend Vanessa and her brother Luke and his neighbor Eddy expose his prejudices and insecurities during a bewildering evening of physical, mental, sexual, and literary intimidation — setting into motion the forces which now leave Henry with mere minutes to live.


By Mary Donnet Johnson
Director: Ashley Clinton

Monday, December 14th – 7PM


There’s a patriarch whose power is waning fast, a questionable friend, an estranged son and a clinging daughter.  There’s a possibly autistic boy, a definitely helpless mother, a social worker with secrets and a pregnant wife who meets with unspeakable loss. Like an ancient Greek tragedy shot through with modern-day laughs, the play takes place in a single room with dramatic events raging nonstop outside.  It’s an emotional processing arena and a kind of crucible that holds the potential for understanding, forgiveness, self-actualization, and joy.  And just a few miles away there’s Shanktown, inspiring everything from hate to hope.


By Angela J. Davis
Director: Lar’Juanette Williams

Tuesday, December 15th – 7PM


Twenty five years after the Rawanda Genocide, this play celebrates the heroism of Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Rwanda’s one-day female president, who, during one of the darkest moments in history, accomplishes a miracle: the survival of her five young children, as well as her spirit, evidenced by Rwanda today having the largest number of women in government.

The following three plays were read live December 6-8

Everyone and Their Mother  

By Emily Draffen
Director: Jaclyn Suffel 

Sunday, December 6th – 7PM


 An old woman’s decision to “live her truth” throws her adult children’s lives into chaos. George (a struggling actor) and Jackie (an exhausted mother) must learn to help themselves while their mother, for the first time in her life, does precisely as she wants. Everyone and Their Mother is a comedy dealing with the expectations we project onto family.

The Violin Maker 

By Christopher Smith
Director: Meghan Lisi

Monday, December 7th – 7PM


For 300 years, the Mosel family has handcrafted violins of the highest quality. Now Karl Mosel, the last and only son, struggles after his father’s death to decide whether to continue the family legacy or let it go. His elderly grandfather, Wilhelm, convinces Karl to work with him over the summer and attempt to make a violin as homage to his father. Karl is soon joined in the shop by Angela Brunelle, a surprise summer intern. As they repair violins and learn the craft under Wilhelm’s guidance, they also find ways to mend their damaged lives.

If Pekin is a Duck, Why am I in Chicago? 

By Ann Eskridge
Director: Tony Horne

Tuesday, December 8th – 7PM


A black gangster in 1918 Chicago makes a bet that he can find two men who can write and compose music better than the music that is currently popular.  He kidnaps a lyricist and a composer in order to get them to write a song which eventually will give him the money and reputation necessary to buy the first black musical theatre in the country and restore it to its former glory.  But although the composer is willing, the lyricist is not because those times remind him of his failing talent and unrequited love.

NewWorks@TheWorks readings will be live on the Playhouse on the Square main stage and streamed via the Zoom platform. A $5 donation will be required to reserve a ticket to the Zoomed performances.