Barter Theatre Playwriting Festivals

Barter Theatre believes in nurturing new playwrights and developing new works. Explore opportunities to foster new works at Barter Theatre.

Nicholas Piper | Director of New Play Development

Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights (AFPP)

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.

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 along with Henry and Flora Joy.

Our Process

  • Seven plays are chosen from the submissions to be given public readings by Barter’s company.
  • The playwrights are given travel, housing, and a stipend for the week.
  • The plays are cast out of Barter’s Resident Acting Company.  Each play will be given 6-8 hours of rehearsal time.  The directors are instructed to direct for clarity not effect.  Our goal for the reading is that script/story/relationships are illuminated.  These readings are about getting your story out there. 
  • After each reading, a panel made up of three regional theatre professionals will give a few thoughts on the piece with the AFPP director moderating the discussion.  After that, we engage with the audience for their comments so that playwrights can get 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 nice little vacation/writer’s retreat with a chance to meet other playwrights, make new friends, and enjoy the beauty of Southwest Virginia! 

AFPP Submission Guidelines

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Plays must be unpublished and must not have had a full professional production.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.
Submission deadline: May 1, 2021 

Please send play and a brief synopsis to:

2021 AFPP Plays

We want to congratulate and thank all the playwrights for a very successful 2021 AFPP

Daryl Lisa Fazio (Mountain Mamas)
Brandy N. Carie (Tomorrow Game)
Quinton Cockrell (City Limits)
Madison Fiedler (If God Came A Callin)

AFPP Black In Appalachia Initiative

In an effort to give voice to the more diverse stories of our region, Barter is committed to presenting at least one play written by a Black Appalachian playwright at each annual Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights. We intend this to be a first step in ensuring that ALL Appalachians will be represented on our stages.

AFPP Black In Appalachia Initiative Submission Guidelines

Playwright must be Black.  

Plays must be written by an Appalachian playwright or the plays must be set in the Appalachian Region.  See here for list of qualifying states/counties as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission:

Plays must be full length. 

Plays must be unpublished and not have had a professional production.

Plays must be submitted electronically.

Please submit plays to:

Submission deadline for Barter's Black In Appalachia Initiative: October 1st, 2021

College Playwriting Festival (CFP)

Barter Theatre’s College Playwrights Festival is a one-act playwriting festival dedicated to celebrating college undergraduate playwrights by giving them an opportunity to develop their work in a professional environment. Participants spend time with professionals here at Barter Theatre and the final event is open and free to the public.

Barter’s College Playwriting Festival is made possible by the generous support of Bert Bach and Henry and Flora Joy.

Due to the current pandemic, we have had to considerably scale back our programming for the 2021 College Playwriting Festival.  Unfortunately we will not be accepting submissions for readings this season. We will, however, be offering virtual playwriting workshops and talkbacks with professional playwrights to any college student who might be interested. The workshops will take place in January…stay tuned for dates and times… 
Thank you for your interest in our festival, and we hope to see you at the workshops!

Barrett Guyton
Festival Director

How CFP work?

Each participating college submits plays from their students to the festival. A panel of Barter Theatre professionals reads each play, chooses the top six plays, and the selected plays have public readings during the Festival.

The top six playwrights will have:

  • One-on-one mentorship with a Barter professional before the festival to work on their play
  • The opportunity to be present at all rehearsals of their play during the Festival
  • Talkbacks with playwrights of the Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights, Barter professionals, and mentors

Young Playwrights Festival (YPF)

The Young Playwrights Festival is an annual event that cultivates and celebrates the talent of high school students. The purpose of this Festival is to encourage the development of students’ writing skills and creativity, with the added benefit of discovering talented playwrights in our region.

Barrett Guyton, YPF Coordinator

View YPF 2020

The Process

Teachers must attend at least one workshop in which Barter professionals give them the tools for teaching playwriting to their students.

After receiving classroom instruction on playwriting, students develop plays and submit them to a select group of Barter professionals for feedback and critique. The plays are not to exceed 10 minutes in length.

The three winning plays are lightly staged at Barter Theatre by professional actors, and the five honorable mention plays are given a reading.

Schools are invited to a morning performance of the plays, where students have the chance to see their peers’ work. A nighttime performance, awards ceremony and reception is open to the public.

Writers of the top three plays receive cash prizes and a mentoring session with a Barter professional, which allows the students to have valuable one-on-one time with experts in the field of theatre and playwriting. The first-place student’s teacher receives two tickets to any performance at Barter Theatre.


Winners work with Barter professionals to enhance and or lengthen their plays. Awards are presented each year to the winning students and schools.

Thank You to Our YPF Sponsors

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Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 867
Abingdon, VA 24212