Submissions are now open for Red Bull Theater's SHORT NEW PLAY FESTIVAL 2023

The Red Bull Theater is now accepting submissions for its ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF NEW SHORTS. Six new 10-minute plays with heightened language and classic themes inspired by this year’s theme: “Forbidden Love” will be selected through an open submission process. These selections will premiere alongside commissions from Craig Lucas (Reckless. Prelude to a Kiss, Longtime Companion) and Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire). The deadline for submission is Monday, April 3 at noon.

The Short New Play festival is scheduled to take place on Monday, June 26. Location to be specified. The former will be led by Nadia Guevara and Ibi Owolabi, Drama League Stage Directing Fellows.

“Each year, we seek out fresh and uplifting classically inspired works. This year’s theme is ‘Forbidden Love.’ But that’s just a starting point. We hope playwrights around the world will respond to our mission to revitalize the classics. Writers are encouraged to riff on a classic character, borrow a classic setting, or be inspired to create an all-new style of dramatic verse. Finding inspiration in classics beyond canon Traditional Western is welcome, and through this festival we hope to cultivate dialogues with classical theater in a multitude of creative and surprising ways,” says Artistic Director Jesse Berger.

Over the thirteen-year history of the Short New Play Festival, Red Bull Theater has cultivated over 4,000 new short plays on classic themes and heightened language, presenting 95 of them in a Festival performance. one-night stand with some of New York’s finest actors and directors. . Commissioned playwrights have included Larissa FastHorse, Marcus Gardley, John Guare, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Jeremy O. Harris, David Ives, Ellen McLaughlin, Dael Orlandersmith, Theresa Rebeck, José Rivera, Anne Washburn, Doug Wright, and winning entries by writers such as Anchuli Felicia King, Patricia Ione Lloyd, Lynn Rosen and Jen Silverman. Stage Rights has published a 5-volume collection of plays from the first 10 years of Red Bull Theatre’s annual Short New Play festival as Red Bull Shorts.


The Red Bull Theater is on the lookout for classically inspired works. The words “Forbidden Love” are just a starting point for creative theme juices. Review our mission and take a look at our play and production history to see the kind of work we’ve done. Respond to a piece we produced or choose a classic to adapt. You can riff on a classic character, borrow a classic setting, or be inspired to create a whole new style of dramatic verse. Drawing inspiration from the classics beyond the traditional Western canon is welcome. We hope you will engage with classical theater in a multitude of creative and surprising ways.

​Using the theme “Forbidden Love”, write a short piece that: uses heightened language and/or is in conversation with a classic theme, style or story from any cultural tradition; lasts no more than 10 minutes; is self-contained with a beginning, middle and end; is a new original work, unpublished and never produced before.

The pieces will be selected according to: the excellence of the work; relevance to the Red Bull Theater mission; incorporation of the “Forbidden Love” theme; use of the standard conversation/intensified language guideline above.

There is a $10 submission fee. Bid fees partially offset open bid processing costs, commissioning fees, and other expenses.

Selected playwrights will receive a staged reading of their submission, performed by an ensemble company of some of New York’s top actors as part of this year’s festival, scheduled for Monday, June 26. Selected playwrights will also receive a $400 commissioning fee; travel reimbursement of up to $400 to attend the festival rehearsal and performance; will be consulted on the choices of the distribution of the shared set; will have final script approval.


Craig Lucas wrote Blue Window, Change Agent, The Dying Gaul, God’s Heart, I Was Most Alive With You, The Lying Lesson, Missing Persons, Reckless, Prayer for My Enemy, Ode to Joy, Prelude to a Kiss, The Singing Forest, Little Tragedy, Stranger; the books of the musicals Amélie, An American in Paris, La Lumière sur la Piazza, Marry Me A Little, Three Postcards; scripts for Blue Window, Longtime Companion, Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless, The Dying Gaul, Secret Lives of Dentists; the opera librettos of Orpheus in Love and Two Boys; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella ballet libretto. Craig’s Days of Wine and Roses, with a score by Adam Guettel, will bow to the Atlantic Theater Company this summer. He conducted the world premieres of The Light in the Piazza, I Was Most Alive With You, Ode to Joy, Change Agent and This Thing of Darkness (co-written with David Schulner) as well as Harry Kondoleon’s plays Saved or Destroyed and Play Yourself. and the films The Dying Gaul and Birds of America. He has received the American Academy of Arts & Letters Literature Award, Drama Desk, Obie, LA Drama Critics, Laura Pels/PEN Mid-career, LAMBDA Literary, Hull-Warriner, Sundance Audience, Flora Roberts, Madge Evans-Sidney Kingsley and the Steinberg/ACTA Best Play and Hermitage Greenfield Prize among many other awards and accolades.

Heather Raffo is the solo performer and author of the Off Broadway hit, 9 Parts of Desire, which details the lives of nine Iraqi women. For her creation and performance of 9 Parts and her national and international tour, Heather has won numerous awards, including a Lucille Lortel Award and the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn and Marian Seldes-Garson Kanin Playwriting Awards, as well as Helen Hayes , Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League Nominations, for Outstanding Performance. Heather first performed 9 Parts of Desire in August 2003 at the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh. It then moved to the Bush Theater in London’s Off-West End, where critics hailed it as one of London’s top five plays in late 2003. Its Off Broadway premiere was at the Manhattan Ensemble Theatre, where the show ran for nine months and was a critics’ pick (from The New York Times, Time Out and Village Voice) for more than twenty-four consecutive weeks. In 2009, Heather premiered a concert version of the piece for the Kennedy Center with famed Iraqi maqam musician, Amir ElSaffar. 9 Parts of Desire was performed across the United States and was one of the top five most produced plays of the 2007-2008 American theater season. It has had international productions/translations in Brazil, Greece, Sweden, Turkey, Malta, France, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Scotland, England and Canada. Publications are by Northwestern University Press and Dramatists Play Service as well as a number of anthologies. Currently, Heather is developing a libretto for an opera commissioned by the Annenberg Foundation and City Opera Vancouver. The opera details the life of a US Marine who served in Fallujah in 2004 and chronicles the haunting experiences of identity and belonging for veterans and their families as well as Iraqis.


The Red Bull Theater brings rarely seen classic plays to vibrant new life for contemporary audiences, combining respect for tradition with a modern sensibility. Named for the rowdy Jacobean playhouse that performed plays illegally in England during the years of Puritan rule, the Red Bull Theater is New York’s home for vibrant performances of great plays that stand the test. time. With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as its cornerstone, the company also produces new works that dialogue with the classics. A home for artists, scholars and students, the Red Bull Theater delights and engages the intellect and imagination of the public, and strives to make its work accessible, diverse and welcoming to all. We value and practice inclusivity, equity and diversity in all our activities, and we are committed to fighting racism. Red Bull Theater believes in the power of great classic stories and sharp-tongued plays to deepen our understanding of the human condition, in the special ability of live theater to create unique and collective experiences, and in the timeless ability of classical theater to illuminate the events of our time. Variety agreed, hailing Red Bull’s work as: “Proof that classic theater can still be surprising after hundreds of years.”

Since its beginnings in 2003 with a production of Shakespeare’s Pericles starring Daniel Breaker, the Red Bull Theater has served adventurous theatergoers with Off-Broadway productions, Revelation Readings and the annual Short New Play Festival. The company also offers outreach programs, including Shakespeare in the Schools, which bring professional actors and teacher artists into public school classrooms; Bull Sessions, free post-play discussions with top academics; and crash courses in classical theater led by seasoned theater professionals. During the pandemic, Red Bull has created several new and ongoing programs to serve audiences and artists with our mission: RemarkaBULL Podversations, Online Readings, Seminars, and more.

The Red Bull Theater has presented 21 Off-Broadway productions and nearly 200 Revelation Readings of rarely seen classics, serving a community of over 5,000 artists and delivering quality artistic programming to an audience of over 65,000. The company’s unique programming has received critical acclaim and garnered Lortel, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Off-Broadway Alliance and OBIE nominations and awards.

For more information on the Short New Play Festival or any of Red Bull Theater’s programs, visit

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