Next Generation Works

“Playworks was a life-changing thing for me. It’s pretty rare to have your writing validated that way and to have it happen on such a big scale at that age. It really changed my whole idea of who I was and what I was capable of. The most lasting mark Playworks left on me is the way I teach writing and the way I am passionate about teaching writing, because I remember how it felt to be young and have my voice taken seriously.”

– Jess Lacher, Thespian Playworks finalist and writing teacher


Next Generation Works is a suite of programs designed to promote original writing by and for high school student members of the International Thespian Society.

These programs include:

-Thespian Playworks for student playwrights (launched in 1994), sponsored by Samuel French;

-Thespian Musicalworks for student musical writers (launched in 2013), sponsored by TRW;

-Thespian Filmworks for student screenwriters (launched in 2018), sponsored by New York Academy of Dramatic Arts;

-Thespian Criticworks for student arts journalists (launched in 2018);

-a commissioned professional musical (piloting in 2019); sponsored by Concord Theatricals; and

-a commissioned professional play, sponsored by Dramatists Play Service.

These programs allow students to work with theatre professionals in creating, presenting, responding to, and connecting with new works, which embodies Educational Theatre Association’s mission of honoring student achievement and enriching their educational experience by:

-encouraging and celebrating the finest and most diverse student work;

-providing opportunities for students to develop skills and achieve professionalism;

-and encouraging schools to give distinguished productions of new student work.

The call for entries goes out each fall, with deadlines in mid-winter. Last year, EdTA received over 300 submissions from students all over the U.S. as well as Canada and as far away as the United Arab Emirates. Each work is reviewed at least twice by the publications staff and other theatre professionals. Finalists are invited to attend the International Thespian Festival, where the student writers work with professional directors, dramaturgs, musical directors, and volunteer actors to present their short works before a live audience. Based on their workshop experience, the students revise their script to showcase at ITF. Many participants have gone on to careers in theatre, writing, and related fields – including two-time Thespian Playworks participant Max Posner, whose newest play premieres Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in September 2017. Whatever the future of the writers or their scripts, these programs are an exhilarating experience in a creative discipline seldom taught in high schools.

Read about our Next Generation Works alumni in the news:

Brothers Doug Rand and Jonathan Rand, both Thespian Playworks participants, founded Playscripts, Inc., a New York City-based publisher of over 1,600 new plays and musicals.

Max Posner, two-time Thespian Playworks participant writer, made his Off-Broadway debut in 2015 with his play Judy.

Billy Recce’s musical Balloon Boy was produced at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado and was also selected for the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Are you a Thespian interested in participating in the Next Generation Works program? Learn more about how to apply!

Thank you to our sponsors!

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