Four new plays.
Four live readings.
One winner.

ON STAGE | New Play-Reading Festival

Join us for round one of the 2024 New Play-Reading Festival, April 26-28.

Meet the Finalists

Bug & Junior: An Unfairytale

by Ann Eskridge | Michigan

Friday, April 26th at 7:30PM

Recommended Age: FAMILY FRIENDLY (Ages 8 and up)

"Pay What You Can" Donation Accepted At Door (Cash or Credit)

Bug and Junior call themselves twin blood brothers even though they don’t look alike. Junior says one day he wants to be an original because anyone named junior is just a copy. And Bug got his name because he would eat bugs on food as a dare to get enough to eat. Bug and Junior are in foster care and they’ve decided to run away in order to find riches so that they won’t be a strain to their financially strapped foster care mother. When they do, they run into three characters: a Hermit, a Witch, and the Witch’s Chimera. Loosely based on Hansel and Gretel, Bug and Junior is about siblings, sibling rivalry and sibling love.

Ann Eskridge

Meet the Author | Ann Eskridge

Ann E. Eskridge is a 2021 Kresge Fellow in playwriting, a 2013 Black Metropolitan Research Consortium Fellow and a Fulbright Hays Group Project Abroad participant in Brazil.  She has written on subjects like the Underground Railroad, all-black towns in Oklahoma, New Orleans’ free people of color,  the Gullah community on the Sea Islands, and Chicago’s black Tin Pan Alley.  


by Matthew Hanf | California

Saturday, April 27th at 4:00PM

Recommended Age: FAMILY FRIENDLY (Ages 9 and up)

"Pay What You Can" Donation Accepted At Door (Cash or Credit)

Jane’s family is struggling.  Mom is taking care of the grandpa; dad is caught up in work and her siblings are all battling their own issues.  Her grandfather is suffering from dementia and thinks he’s Zeus.  Before he has to leave for the home, he tells Jane (the only one who really talks to him anymore) that she is a hero, that she is Hercules and he gives her tasks to accomplish.  Plane Jane, never saw herself as anymore than just that. But with the help of her friend, Jessica, they realize that the tasks are each steps in bringing their family back together and realizing that she might be Jane—but she is also HERcules.

Matthew Hanf

Meet the Author | Matthew Hanf

Matt Hanf is a nationally and internationally produced playwright who spends his day teaching English to high school students which is not too hard because most of them already speak it.  He lives in the glorious metropolis of Elk Grove, CA, a small suburb of Walmart.  His success is due to a supportive and amazing wife; inspiring children and the knowledge that the success of this particular play is due to the artistry and skill of a great director and talented actors.  Words are whispers until artists give them voice.

Her Beautiful Sound

by Cris Eli Blak | New York

Saturday, April 27th at 7:00PM

Recommended Age: FAMILY FRIENDLY (Ages 10 and up)

"Pay What You Can" Donation Accepted At Door (Cash or Credit)

After her father, an aspiring rapper, passes away, a teenage girl moves with her mother to her grandmother’s house, where she hears the stories of her ancestors and finds healing and a way to deal with her grief through spoken word poetry.

Cris Blak

Meet the Author | Cris Eli Blak

Cris Eli Blak is an emerging proud Black playwright whose work has been performed around the world. He is the inaugural winner of the Black Broadway Men Playwriting Initiative, the 2024 Charles M. Getchell New Play Award, the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s inaugural winner of the Muse of Fire BIPOC Playwriting Festival, and the recipient of the Emerging Playwrights Fellowship from The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre. He is currently an artist-in-residence with Abingdon Theatre Company and has had his work published by Smith & Kraus, Inc., YOUTHPlays, Applause Books, New World Theatre, Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, and in the Black Theatre Review.

Little Things

by Bonnie Gleicher & Brandon Michael Lowden | New York

Sunday, April 28th at 2:00PM

Recommended Age: FAMILY FRIENDLY (Ages 7 and up)

"Pay What You Can" Donation Accepted At Door (Cash or Credit)

Little Things is an original musical about a group of misfit fifth-graders who find out recess is getting canceled and fight to get it back! As the students and newcomer Eleanor band together against the power-hungry Principal, they confront their own hopes, fears, and inner strength.

Bonnie Gleicher

Meet the Author | Bonnie Gleicher

Bonnie is a songwriter, orchestrator, and playwright whose music is heard off-Broadway, on TV, and on YouTube. Her theatre career began as a kid performing on Broadway in Jane Eyre and Annie, and has come full circle, writing musicals and pop for audiences of all ages. Her songs have been sung by Taylor Louderman, Liz Callaway, Bonnie Milligan, Lilli and Chuck Cooper and more. In addition to Little Things, she is the creator of the upcoming musical OY BAND, the writer of Gavroche, and the composer/lyricist of off-Broadway’s Addy & Uno. Little Things is dedicated to the newest “Eleanor” in her life – her two-year-old niece Eleanor.


Meet the Author | Brandon Michael

Brandon Michael Lowden is a bookwriter, composer, and lyricist. Raised in Pittsburgh, he now lives in NYC where he works a second job in public transit technology and spends his free time birding. His degrees in electrical engineering and musical theater writing serve equally well in both careers. Web:; social: @BookMusicLyrics. BML says: “Thanks for checking out my art. I made it for you!”


The Growing Stage New Play-Reading Festival

Recent Press

Our New Play-Reading Festival features four brand new plays for young audiences, chosen from the over 100 submitted works biennially. Each piece is carefully read by a select committee comprised of directors, performing and teaching artists, educators and young people. The four finalists are provided two readings during the season, read by professional and community artists in a casual setting. Following each reading a discussion of the work with our professional team and the playwright. Lastly, one of the four plays will be selected to become a fully mounted production the following season.

Growing Stage New Play-Reading Festival
Growing Stage New Play-Reading Festival

Past Winners:

With Two Wings (2012)

Secret Life Of Hubie Hartzel (2013)

And Then Came Tango (2014)

The Book of D (2015)

Box of Stories (2016)

Boy Sees Flying Saucer (2017)

John Henry (2018)

Bunnyboy (2019)

Boogie (2020)

Georgia Mae James(2021)

Maddie And Eleanor (2022)

How to Apply

Stay tuned for submission information for our spring 2025 festival!


To apply for our festival, please email: and provide the following details in the body of an email:

  • Play title
  • Brief synopsis
  • Approximate running time
  • Cast breakdown
  • Intended audience. (i.e. Elementary, Middle School, High School, Family)
  • Script aligns with The Growing Stage mission. (View Mission)
  • Development History (i.e. previous reading, production, etc.)

Note: Please do not submit your full script with initial inquiry.

Submission Deadline: Stay tuned!


If your initial submission is accepted for our festival, a full script will be requested. When submitting your full script, please follow these guidelines:

Playwright’s name must not be visible anywhere on the script. Please include your name, address, phone, and play title in your email submission cover letter.

Playwrights shall allow the release of their names, addresses, and play titles to The Growing Stage.

If you have any questions about the submission guidelines or festival, please contact Danny Campos, Festival Director at

Submission Guidelines:

  • Plays should be intended for young audiences through high school age.
  • Minimum performance length of approximately 45 minutes.
  • Musicals are eligible.  Accepted submissions must include a sample recording of the music and lyrics.  Please do not send a written score.
  • BIPOC plays and playwrights are encouraged.
  • Adaptations must include proof that permission has been granted from the author to adapt their work.
  • All scripts must be unpublished and not committed to publication.
  • No supporting materials accepted.
  • Two scripts maximum submission.
Growing Stage New Play-Reading Festival
“I knew my children would have a great experience. Watching my daughter dance in her chair and listening to my son ask questions throughout the show, reinforced my belief that this is a hidden gem in New Jersey.”
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Ticketing System

  • Main Stage Performances are normally Saturdays at 4:00PM and Sunday at 2:00PM. Friday performances are on a limited basis at 7:30pm.
  • Studio Series Performances: Thursday/Friday at 7:30PM, Saturday at 4:00PM and Sunday at 2:00PM.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Local Flavor Coupons and Groupons cannot be redeemed online.  You must call the Box Office to reserve and redeem. Box Office is open daily Monday thru Friday from 10:30am to 3:00pm. Please call at least 24 hours prior to redeem.
  • Seating begins 30 minutes prior to each performance. If you select Will Call as your ticket delivery method, your tickets will be available for pick up starting an hour prior to the performance.
  • Seating is general admission except for season ticket holders and groups of 10 or more.
  • Sales are final and no refunds will be given unless the performance is cancelled. If you are unable to attend, please contact the Box Office and we will do our best to accommodate you at a different performance based on availability.
  • Concessions will be available for sale before the performance and during intermission. Outside food and drink is not allowed.
  • Parking is available in the bank parking lot next to the theatre (when the bank is closed), the park lot behind the bank lot, and on the surrounding streets. If needed, overflow parking is available at the Methodist Church down the street.
  • If you have any questions, please contact the Box Office at 973-347-4946 or and we will be happy to assist you.

    Group Sales (10 or more) are available by calling the Box Office at (973) 347-4946.

Please fill out this form to receive more information or call 973-347-4946

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