Calendar: Play Readings, Workshops, and Theater Events in the DMV


Play readings and workshops offer a chance to see exciting new work at various stages of development. Want to see the next big thing while it’s still being crafted? Get in on the ground level and see the creative process in action. Featuring new plays and musicals by local and national artists, here are the upcoming play readings and workshops in the DMV.


Guillotine Theatre presents Tales of Mystery and the Imagination: Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Sunday, October 29 at 7:00 PM at the Receiving Vault at Ivy Hill Cemetery, 2823 King Street, Alexandria, VA. Weather permitting, the performance will be held outdoors; in the case of inclement weather, it will be held inside the Receiving Vault. Parking is available in the cemetery grounds. To reserve tickets, which are $20 per person, email or call 703-549-7413.

Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University presents its Fall Reading Series of new plays currently being workshopped with directors and actors. This fall’s staged readings are Loving Longing Leaving by Michael Weller, Friday, October 27 at 7:00 PM, and Enough to Let the Light In by Paloma Nozicka, Saturday, October 28 at 7:00 PM. Both readings will be held at the Shepherdstown Opera House at 131 W German Street, Shepherdstown, WV. Tickets to the October Fall Reading Series are by donation, with a suggested donation of $15 per ticket. Reserve your tickets online here.

This season, the Washington National Opera opens with a world premiere–Grounded, an opera about a female drone pilot with a libretto by George Brant and music by Jeanine Tesori. To explore the multifaceted issues of the opera, WNO is hosting a panel discussion at the Military Women’s Memorial on Monday, October 23 at 5:30 PM with a real female pilot whose experience is similar to the opera heroine, Jess. The evening opens with a performance by WNO Cafritz Young Artist alumna Hannah Shea, who performs selections from the opera. The following panelists include Lt. Col. Tammy Barlette, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who has logged more than 3,000 total flight hours and over 1,500 hours of combat support time in both Iraq and Afghanistan; Maj. Scott Swanson, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot and pioneer in unmanned systems including the Predator Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAS); Ret. Col. Elspeth Cameron “Cam” Ritchie, MD, MPH, current chief of psychiatry at Medstar Washington Hospital Center and a forensic psychiatrist with expertise in military and veteran’s issues; and George Brant, Grounded librettist. The panel will be moderated by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.

Military Women’s Memorial is located on the corner of Memorial Ave, and Schley Dr, Arlington, VA 22202 in the Arlington National Cemetery. Advance reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis here. Parking is free.

The Theater and Policy Salon premieres excerpts from a new play about parallel turning points in America’s rocky journey to a more perfect democracy: the 1804 Hamilton-Burr duel and the January 6 insurrection in 2021. In her new work titled Across the River, syndicated columnist and historian Jamie Stiehm explores Aaron Burr’s odyssey after the fatal duel with Alexander Hamilton, and its fateful impact on American democracy and the expansion of Southern slavery.

The play reveals Aaron Burr beyond the Hamilton musical. Excerpts introduce Burr and Alexander Hamilton as “brothers (and orphans) from another mother” and twin Yankee avatars of enterprise, immigration, and commerce. Tragically, these Revolutionary War frenemies were destined by ego and honor to destroy each other in the 1804 duel. Hamilton’s literal death and Burr’s political demise left the early American Republic under the thumb of slavery until the Civil War.

The panel/public conversation will gather the eminent scholar of Congress Norm Ornstein, Professor Ravi Perry of Howard University and DC Vote, U.S. Capitol Historical Society (CHS)’s Steve Livengood, all moderated by CHS President/CEO Jane Campbell. We will discuss America’s flawed democracy from the Founding right up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection. The event will be held on Thursday, October 19 at 6:30 PM at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St NW, Washington, DC. Tickets are free and may be reserved on Eventbrite here.

Transformation Theatre presents a virtual reading of Madame Quixota’s Last Words, Tuesday, October 17 at 7:00 PM. Hollywood movie star Alonsa, whose artistic name is “Ella,” is trying to clean her image after a Twitter scandal implicating Johnny Depp by mistake. She is rehearsing a big-time musical Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet in “Woke version.” Greedy sponsors and producers are forcing actors to follow ridiculous, even unsafe stage directions. This play starts right after Ella fell off Juliet’s balcony into a secret corridor which magically connects to a small, off-off-off Broadway theater where every past memory becomes true. Ella meets Sancha Panza, aka Sally, a struggling actor working as a janitor. Getting out of that place becomes Ella’s adventure as Madame Quixota, accompanied by Sancha Panza. She needs to travel into her memories and stories with the love of her life, her saving knight Daryl (the equivalent of the female “Dulcinea”). Daryl disappointed her when they were lovers, before she became a movie star. She now needs his imaginary presence to remember who she was and why it is important for her to always tell the truth. Tickets to the virtual reading are pay-what-you-can (minimum $5) and available here.

Classic Theatre of Maryland announces the launch of the David W. Frank Play Reading Series, honoring the late David Frank. Though he enjoyed a long career as a teacher, director and actor in Boston, he remained a loyal son of Baltimore and a devout Orioles fan. In his starring role as a high school English and drama teacher, he staged scores of plays and musicals, from “Ten Nights in a Barroom” and “The Mouse that Roared” to “Curtains.” In the first installment of CTM’s inaugural play reading series on Monday, October 16 at 7:30 PM, two old friends reveal long-buried secrets in the shadow of the Colosseum in Roman Fever, a new adaptation of Edith Wharton’s classic story, by Maryland playwright Greg Jones Ellis. Tickets are $20 (free to CTM season subscribers!) and available here.

Best Medicine Rep presents Stories I May Not Tell, written by John Morogiello and directed by Stan Levin, Sunday, October 15 at 3:00 PM. In this unique performance, Morogiello shares three stories that have been rattling around in his head for years, but which he has not been able to turn into plays. At the Rosbrough Theatre, Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg. Use the entrance on the corner of Lost Knife Road and Odendhal Avenue. Tickets are only $10. Residents of Asbury Methodist Village and their guests attend for free.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria presents two staged readings of The Laramie Project, Friday, October 6 at 8:00 PM and Thursday, October 12 at 8:00 PM. A play by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project in response to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, in Laramie, Wyoming. Kaufman and the other company members visited Laramie on six occasions and interviewed residents, members of the police force, and Matthew’s friends, in an attempt to understand what happened, and why. They were also interested in the possibility that theater, more than any other medium, would allow people to engage with and reflect on the issues brought to public attention by Matthew’s murder, such as homophobia, hatred, intolerance, and fear. The Laramie Project takes those real interviews and weaves them into the story of events surrounding the murder and the months beyond. This staged reading at LTA, directed by Paul Di Salvo, will be performed exactly 25 years from the date Matthew was attacked and the date he died in the hospital. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased here.

The National Archives Foundation presents the new musical, Tyrants, written by Nora Brigid Monahan, with music and lyrics by Alexander Sage Oyen, directed by John Simins, and produced by Robert Bowman and Hundred Nights Hamlet, on Friday, October 6 at 7:00 PM and Saturday, October 7 at 7:00 PM. Politics becomes personal when two brothers find themselves on opposing ends of a defining moment in American history. While celebrating the news of the recent Confederate surrender and the end of the war, acclaimed actor Edwin Booth receives word of the death of President Abraham Lincoln at the hands of his brother, John Wilkes. As rioters threaten to destroy Edwin’s home, he is forced to relive the events of his past and examine his own role in the younger sibling’s dark path.  Using one of our country’s most infamous stories, Tyrants explores our responsibility toward self, family, and country.

Tyrants will be presented in the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. The performances are free and open to the public, and tickets are offered on a first come, first served basis. Advanced registration is required here.

Guillotine Theatre and Georgetown Neighborhood Library present BANNED BALDWIN, a Banned Books Week Read-Out featuring selections from books by James Baldwin that were or are banned and challenged. DC-area actors will read selections from Giovanni’s Room, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Another Country, and unpublished works collected under the title I Am Not Your Negro.

BANNED BALDWIN is presented as part of Georgetown Neighborhood Library’s James Baldwin Centennial Celebration, “James Baldwin, 100 Years of Life.” The event is free and open to the public and will be held Sunday, October 1, at 2:00 PM at Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St NW.