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Appalachian Festival of

Plays and Playwrights

For Playwrights

This annual festival celebrates the richness of the Appalachian tradition by showcasing the stories of the region, both past and present, and the inspiration it provides the writers who live here.

For Patrons

AFPP readings are free and open to the public. Audiences participate in the development process by attending readings, participating in panel discussions, and sharing feedback.

For Our Community and Beyond

Since 1933, Barter Theatre has been developing new works and nurturing area talent. The AFPP has gained national attention by developing a process that has resulted in new plays being produced not only on Barter’s stages, but in regional theatres across the country.

The Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights is made possible by the generous support of Bert Bach, and Henry and Flora Joy.


Snakeroot by Levi Shrader

Orphaned by the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, Sissy scrapes together a living digging up medicinal roots while her dysfunctional brother searches for the elusive Mothman. When an agent from the National Park Service arrives with information about a rare plant, Sissy sees a path toward building a better home for her family, as long as she can elude the secret passions threatening to upend her last-ditch effort. Faith, family, and the supernatural order of reality are all tested amidst one woman’s struggle to construct a new life.



Girl on a Hill by Cris Eli Blak*

Deana Wakefield is an African American woman living out of a motel with her musician-boyfriend, struggling with a substance use disorder. Her life takes an unexpected turn when a journalist from The New York Times shows up at her door after he uncovers who she really is: a former child math prodigy. This is a play about race, discrimination, addiction, friendship, shame, generational trauma, and how no matter what we are, or who we are, we have a story to tell and a life that’s worth living.

*2024 Black Stories/Black Voices Selection



The Bad Guy by Jen Diamond

When Finn and Deirdre inherit Finn’s childhood home they move in, hoping to repair their marriage and get a fresh start on life. But the woods are far deeper and darker than Finn remembers, and his half-sister has become a stranger. This modern, folk-horror adaptation of The Bacchae is about all the ways we are capable of transforming ourselves and those we love.



Mountain Mamas by Daryl Lisa Fazio

Patsy Armstrong is a coal miner. Just like her daddy, Earl. And just like her mother, Wanda, who was one of the first women ever hired underground in a union mine and, at 60 years old, is still there. As of this week, Patsy’s back in her mother and daddy’s house, after a mining accident that left her with no ability to move or communicate. Her bright 18-year old daughter, Livvy, now lives there too. In a home that’s full of humor and generosity and rowdiness and grit. But a home—not to mention a whole dang planet—that’s under more pressure than maybe it’s ever been. When the family gets news about the settlement from Patsy’s accident, Livvy jumps into the fray. And Patsy, now forced to listen and observe more than she ever did as a healthy person, is plagued by nightmares and revelations she’s able to share only with us. It doesn’t take long for her to realize she has to learn a new way of being if she’s gonna save her entire world.



Sons That Wear Dresses and Mothers That Love Sweet Potatoes by Gage Tarlton

When Malcolm returns home to Durham, NC for Thanksgiving, he soon discovers his mother, Lillian, is moving out of their bookshop home, where he and his sister, Chandra, grew up. New apartments are being built in its place. Across the street, twenty-somethings Toby and Shay run on treadmills at Planet Fitness. They’re not real friends – just gym friends. When their worlds collide at the local gay club, they’re taken on a journey that alters their relationship to their community, to each other, and to themselves. A play about gentrification, the price of love, and learning to move forward.



Go Tell It On the Mountain by Catherine Bush

This new play with music gives witness to the lives of ordinary Appalachians as they celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year.” From the young girl in Tennessee obsessed with being a ballerina in The Nutcracker to the Kentucky father whose sons are fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War, these people and songs remind us what Christmas in the mountains is really all about.



The Process

Six new Appalachian plays are chosen from the submissions to be given public readings by Barter’s company.

The playwrights are brought in at the beginning of the festival week to be a part of the rehearsal process.  Each play is given about 8 hours of rehearsal time with the focus being on clarity of story.

After each reading, there is a moderated discussion between a panel made up of three regional theatre professionals  and, most importantly, the audience, for their feedback.  That way, the playwright receives feedback from three separate groups:  artists, panelists, and audience.

Playwrights have found this to be a very useful step in developing their plays, as well as a wonderful opportunity to meet other artists, make new friends, and enjoy the beauty of Southwest Virginia!

Play Submission Guidelines

AFPP 2025 Submission Deadline: May 1st, 2024

Plays must be written by an Appalachian playwright (currently living in a state that contains the Appalachian Mountain Range— which, for our purposes, run from New York to Alabama.)


The plays must be set in the Appalachian region.
Plays must be unpublished and must not have had a full professional production.
Plays must be full length.
Plays must be submitted electronically.

Please send play and a brief synopsis to:

AFPP 2023 on PBS NewsHour

AFPP 2023 Winners & Gallery

The Coffin Maker by Phil Keeling / Trouble (at the Vista View Mobile Home Estates) by Audrey Cefaly / Grandma Gatewood Took A Walk by Catherine Bush / The Transported Man by Russell Nichols / A Thing of Beauty by D.W. Gregory / Hooten Holler by Ketch Secor

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