Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights (AFPP)

January 21-24, 2021 at Barter’s Smith Theatre

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.

Barter’s Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights is made possible by the generous support of Bert Bach and Henry and Flora Joy

Contact Us

Nicholas Piper

Director of New Play Development

We want to congratulate and thank all the playwrights for a very successful 2020 AFPP

Nedra Pezold Roberts (They Must Be Women Now)
Catherine Bush (Charlottesville)
Bret Murphy (In the Middle of Nowhere)
Taylor Hatch (Project X)
Emily Emerson (The Field)
Hannah Hartmann (Nightjar)
Augusto Amador (The Quiet Zone)

Our Process:

7 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! 

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Plays must be unpublished and must not have had a full professional production.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

Please send play and a brief synopsis to:


College Playwrights Festival (CPF)

January 17-19, 2020 at Barter’s Smith Theatre

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.

Contact Us

Barrett Guyton
Festival Director

2020 CPF Lineup and Events

Barter will offer free theatre workshops to any college student who wishes to attend. Meet other college students studying the arts, mingle with the Barter company, and learn something new! Workshops will all take place at Barter’s Trigg St. Building (201 Trigg St. Abingdon, VA, 24210). All readings will take place at Barter’s Smith Theatre.

The Smith Theatre Lounge will be open for lunch January 19 at 11:30am. Come join us before the readings!

January 17 at 10am-12pm

The Business of Playwriting Workshop

Catherine Bush, Barter Theatre’s Playwright in Residence, will be offer a workshop on the business side of playwriting. What should my website look like? Where should I submit my work? How do I get my plays read? Come benefit from the years of Catherine’s experience in the playwriting business. To register for this workshop, please email

January 18 at 10am-12pm

Directing Workshop

Dr. John Hardy, Associate Artist at Barter Theatre, will lead a workshop for college students that will focus on directing a play—preparation, rehearsals, working with actors, new plays and playwrights. Whether you’re an actor, director, playwright, or designer this workshop will be an invaluable resource to any theatre artist looking to pursue a career in the arts. Come learn from one of the most esteemed theatre artists in our region!  Free to all college students!

January 19 at 1pm

Bell by Sarah Hinerman (Fairmont State University, WV)

Peter is no longer a boy anymore. In spirit of Peter’s adulthood, his father, Hook, decides that it is the perfect time to pass on the family business–his dingy little bait shop. Little did they both know, that this deed would change their lives forever… And forever is an awfully long time.

January 19 at 2pm

A Broken Watch by Emily Pope (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Finn, a modern day bookstore owner, has been chasing Evie for most of his life. When he finally has a window of opportunity to earn Evie’s affection, his roommate Leo and their friend Lucy attempt to help him get what he’s always wanted, with surprisingly unintended consequences.

January 19 at 3pm

Revolutionary by Lee Kromer (Davidson College, NC)

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of HappinessLiberté, Égalité, Fraternité. These ideals are the basis of the modern freedom ideology, so if Yasmin fought for them, she must be the good guy, right? Right? Maybe not. Worse, the dream she believed in no longer believes in her. This play, inspired by the story of Leila Khaled, asks a simple question with a not-so-simple answer: what makes someone a terrorist versus a revolutionary?

How does it 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

What are the guidelines for the plays?

Each playwright must be sponsored by a teacher from their school. This simply means that the teacher has read the play and thinks it is ready to submit. A teacher may sponsor as many students as they wish.
Each play must include a completed submission form, cover page, and character list. Each play should be between 30-50 minutes and a maximum of six (6) actors per play will be cast (if doubling can occur, please notate in character description page).
No adaptations and no musicals. Playwrights can write about any topic they choose, but it must be an original piece.
Submissions will be accepted from undergraduate playwrights who attend colleges and universities in the states of Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi.

When is the Festival?

The College Playwrights Festival will be from January 16-19, 2020. Public readings will take place, 3 per day, on January 18-19, 2020 at Barter’s Smith Theatre.
The play chosen as First Place in the CPF will also be read during the Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights on Saturday, January 25, 2020.
Participants will be housed from Wednesday, January 15 through Sunday, January 19, 2020 and will receive a meal stipend.

How do I submit?

All play submissions must include the submission form below and be emailed to:
Submissions must be received by November 1, 2020. Please note: this is not a postmark date, but a received date; late submissions will not be accepted. Winners will be notified by mid-December.

Young Playwrights Festival (YPF)

The Festival

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.

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.

Contact Us

Barrett Guyton, YPF Coordinator

Thank You to Our Sponsors

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